Thanks for stopping by BCB After Dark: the swingin’ secret club for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. We’ve got a great evening planned. It will be even better with you here. Come on in out of the cold. No cover charge tonight. There are still a few good tables available. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
Last evening I asked you who should get the Opening Day start for the Cubs against the Brewers on March 30. Well, the vote wasn’t close. Marcus Stroman was your choice with 73 percent of the vote. If Stroman does make the start on Opening Day, it will be the third time he’s gotten that honor as he did it twice before with the Blue Jays—in 2016 and 2019.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the baseball question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.
For our jazz selection tonight, we’ve got the Motown classic “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong. This one is by guitarist Bill Frisell from his 2005 album East/West. Frisell is on guitar and electronics, Kenney Wolleson is on drums and Viktor Krauss is on bass. Stick with this one—it starts out slow and bluesy and then gets really adventurous at the end.
I thought we might have a mismatch in the BCB Winter Noir Classic this week and I was right. The Maltese Falcon (1941) stomped on Gun Crazy (1950) with 92 percent of the vote. I can’t really argue with that. I love Gun Crazy, but The Maltese Falcon makes all those lists of the greatest American films for a reason. The American Film Institute had it at number 23 back in 1998.
Tonight we’ve got another classic noir starring Humphrey Bogart playing a private detective in The Big Sleep (1946). I hope that the fact that it’s taking on another acknowledged classic in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) will make for a closer vote. It’s a matchup of two Warner Brothers movies from the same year.
The Big Sleep. Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Martha Vickers.
Bogart and Bacall. That’s the most important thing you need to know about The Big Sleep. After the two had a big hit (and started a torrid love affair) during To Have and Have Not in 1944, Hawks and Warner Brothers rushed them into another film, although they ended up shelving it for two years. The biggest reason for the delay was that Warners wanted to get their backlog of war movies into the theaters before the war ended, but they also re-shot and added some more scenes so that there would be more interaction between Bogart and Bacall. The public wanted to see more of them, anyway. (The original cut was rediscovered and restored in 1997. As Roger Ebert wrote on the occasion of the restoration, it was one of the few times that studio interference improved a picture. The original’s not bad, but the rewrite was better.)
The plot of the Raymond Chandler novel the movie is based on is famously incoherent. For example, when Hawks asked Chandler who killed the chauffeur in the book, Chandler replied “Hell if I know.” The movie makes it even more confusing by keeping the pornography ring at the center of the conspiracy in the book, but since the Production Code banned any mention of pornography or even any hint of nudity, it makes even less sense. Men are scandalously taking pictures of a fully-clothed Martha Vickers!
After Hawks found out that Chandler didn’t care about the plot, he decided not to care about the plot either. Instead, he focused on the setting, the characters and the dialog. What he produced is spellbinding. Bogart’s Philip Marlowe certainly has a lot in common with his Sam Spade, but Marlowe is quicker with the wit and more likely to see himself above, rather than a part of, the crime and corruption of Los Angeles. And of course, there’s a sexual chemistry with Bacall’s Vivian that Bogart never had with Mary Astor.
The dialog between Bogart and Bacall crackles. Some of that was imported from Chandler’s novel—the rest is the result of the wonderful screenplay by William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett. (Star Wars fans will recognize Brackett as the writer who wrote the first draft of the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back, which she finished just a week before she died. She was responsible for much of what made that film the most-beloved of the Star Wars franchise.) The script was written to try to get as much sexual innuendo past the Production Board as possible, and Marlowe and Vivian are constantly flirting with each other. As a private detective, Philip Marlowe was more likely to hit the bad guy with a withering quip than a right uppercut, but the film hardly lacks drama because of it.
Beyond the on-screen relationship between Bogart and Bacall’s characters (which is terrific), Vickers also steals every scene she’s in with her portrait of Bacall’s nutty and scandalous younger sister. And while it takes something to outshine Bogart, Dorothy Malone does a star-turn in the one scene she’s in as the beautiful (and unnamed) bookstore proprietor.
Here’s the trailer for The Big Sleep. Notice how they directly compare the film to The Maltese Falcon in the trailer. It also emphasizes the romance between Bogart and Bacall, which was on the front pages of all the gossip magazines at the time.
Here’s what I wrote last time on The Postman Always Rings Twice.
The Postman Always Rings Twice. Directed by Tay Garnett. Starring Lana Turner and John Garfield with Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames and Audrey Totter in supporting roles. Turner stars as Cora, one of the ultimate femme fatales in classic noirs. Garfield is Frank, a drifter who ends up working at a diner in a rural area outside of Los Angeles operated by Cora and her much-older husband Nick (Kellaway). Cora’s marriage to Nick is loveless—not that Nick knows that—and she quickly seduces Frank and makes plans to run off with him. Fearing they’d be broke if she divorced Nick, Cora convinces Frank to murder Nick instead so she’d inherit the diner. Which kind of sucks for Frank because he kind of likes Nick. (To be fair to Cora, Nick decides he’s going to sell the diner and move the two of them to a Canadian town located on the Arctic Ocean without asking her first. If that’s not reason for murder, I don’t know what is. But Cora planned to kill Nick even before that.) For a while, it looks like the two of them got away with it. But the postman always rings twice, right?
To add to what I wrote last time, The Postman Always Rings Twice has as much sex in any film of the 1940s. Which means, yeah, not much by modern standards, but there’s little doubt of what’s going on off-camera. Lana Turner was one of the most famous of the Hollywood sex symbols. Garfield had the same kind of everyman appeal that Bogart had, but his acting style was most more akin to Marlon Brando and the others coming out of the Method acting schools. In fact, Garfield was considered to be a big influence on Brando, Montgomery Clift and other method actors who would come to dominate the 1950s.
Also, The Postman Always Rings Twice was one of the first movies I wrote about when I started this feature.
Here’s the trailer for The Postman Always Rings Twice.
The Big Sleep or The Postman Always Rings Twice?
This poll is closed
The Big Sleep
The Postman Always Rings Twice
You have until Monday evening to vote. On Monday, we’ll have another tough matchup as The Third Man (1949), directed by Carol Reed, takes on The Night of the Hunter (1955), directed by Charles Laughton. The Night of the Hunter beat the Orson Welles-directed Touch of Evil in the first round. Can it beat The Third Man that only stars Orson Welles?
Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.
The Cubs off-season is mostly all over but the shouting. And by shouting, we mean “signing minor league free agents with an invitation to Spring Training.” Today the Cubs added catcher Luis Torrens, most recently of the Mariners. that way.
There is one exception to that. The Cubs could still add a left-handed reliever for the pen. The market for free agent relievers has been very slow this winter, which Ken Rosenthal reports that teams are blaming on the Phillies agreeing to give Matt Strahm a two-year, $15 million contract early in the offseason. (The Athletic sub. req.).Other teams seem to feel that the Phillies overpaid on Strahm and now every free agent left-handed reliever who thinks they are as good or better than Strahm wants that kind of a deal or more. At least according to the people who are talking to Ken Rosenthal.
Sahadev Sharma also reported in The Athletic that the Cubs are still interested in adding either left-hander Andrew Chafin or Matt Moore. (The Athletic sub. req.) I don’t think I need to say much about Chafin to you, who pitched for the Cubs for parts of the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Last season, Chafin, 32, pitched for the Tigers and was 2-3 with a 2.83 ERA and three saves. He struck out 67 in 57⅓ innings and walked 19. Those are better numbers over more innings than Strahm put up in Boston.
Moore is someone who’s been connected in rumors to the Cubs for so long that you half expected the Cubs would trade Brian Roberts for him. (Longtime site readers will get that joke.) Moore, 33, has spent most of his career in the starting rotation, but he moved to the bullpen full-time in Texas last year and it was a successful transition. Moore went 5-2 with a 1.95 ERA and five saves over 74 innings for the Rangers. His 38 walks were a little high, but not too bad. His strikeout numbers were excellent with 83. Again, Moore probably thinks he’s better than Strahm and deserves to get paid accordingly.
Rosenthal also lists a third possibility in 35-year-old Zack Britton. Once upon a time, Britton was arguably the best closer in the majors when he pitched for the Orioles. (Or didn’t pitch for the Orioles—am I right, Buck Showalter?) Last year, Britton only threw two-thirds of an inning (over three appearances) for the Yankees as he’s returned from Tommy John surgery. Rosenthal doesn’t mention the Cubs being specifically being interested in Britton, but he lists the three left-handers and says the Cubs are a team in the market for one.
Britton is probably someone who won’t be looking to beat the deal Strahm got.
So tonight is going to be another one of those “should/will” two-part questions. The first part is “Which left-handed reliever should the Cubs sign?” and the second part is “Which left-handed reliever will the Cubs sign?” And yes, “None of the Above” will be an answer. Rosenthal lists nine different teams as still in the market for a left-handed reliever.
Which left-handed reliever should the Cubs sign?
This poll is closed
None of the above
And . .
Which left-handed reliever will the Cubs sign?
This poll is closed
None of the above
Thank you so very much for stopping by on this cold evening. Please bundle up out there and stay warm. Get home safely. Tip your waitstaff. Tell a friend. And join us again next week for more BCB After Dark.