Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the hippest happening for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. So glad you stopped by to join us tonight. It wouldn’t be the same without you. There’s no cover charge tonight. There is still a good table available in the second row. The show will start shortly. 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 week I asked you how many games would David Bote play for the Cubs in 2023. Only nine percent of you said “zero,” so most of you do think Bote will be on the Cubs roster this season. The winner of the vote, however, was “31 to 60 games,” which pulled in 41 percent of your votes. So that indicates to me that those voters think Bote will be bouncing back and forth between Iowa and Chicago. In second place was “Less than 30” with 34 percent, which, to me, would represent Bote getting released after a short return to the club. Or spending the whole season in the minors until September, I guess.
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.
On Friday we lost songwriter Burt Bacharach at the age of 94. It’s beyond my meagre talents to describe the importance of Bacharach and his lyricist Hal David to the American music scene. They were really the final great songwriters of the “Great American Songbook” period and they were very influential in the transition to the pop music styles of the sixties and seventies. Bacharach and David’s work with Dionne Warwick simply defied characterization. It wasn’t rock, it wasn’t soul, it wasn’t jazz and it was only “pop” in that it was popular. But their music had a foot in all of those genres without ever being defined by them. The three of them were truly sui generis.
Bacharach had his heyday in the sixties and seventies, but he continued to write music after that, usually with his third wife Carole Bayer Sager serving as the lyricist. And after a period of being “uncool,” new generations have discovered Bacharach over the past few decades, thanks in part to fans in the music world such as Elvis Costello championing his music. Personally, the first Bacharach and David song that I was really familiar with was Naked Eyes new wave cover of “Always Something There to Remind Me” in the early-eighties—which demonstrates their influence in many genres. (Technically, as a kid in elementary school, we sang “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” in music class. So I guess that would have been first.)
So this week is Burt Bacharach week at BCB After Dark, as many jazz artists have covered Bacharach tunes. And one of the most difficult songs he ever wrote was the theme song to the Broadway musical “Promises, Promises.” In the two-minute-forty-five-second song, there are something like twenty time signature changes. Jerry Orbach, who had to sing the song on Broadway, complained about it to Bacharach. Warwick, who had the hit version, breezed through it. Because of course she did.
But here’s the Jazz Crusaders in 1969 giving their take on the then contemporary hit “Promises, Promises.”
And just in case you need any convincing of the greatness of Dionne Warwick, here she is singing “Promises, Promises” on the Ed Sullivan Show—without the instrumental break that normally gives her a chance go catch her breath.
You voted in the BCB Winter Noir Classic quarter final and the Cinderella run of Kiss Me Deadly came to an end as Double Indemnity knocked it out of the competition with 76 percent of the vote. I do hope the competition caused some of you to check out Kiss Me Deadly for the competition as you can watch it for free on the internet. Of course, even though the vote is over, you can still watch it for your own enjoyment. I hadn’t seen it before this tournament started and now I’m glad that I have. I still wouldn’t vote for it over Double Indemnity, however.
Tonight’s matchup is a true toss-up in my mind. It may come down to which stars you like better as both films are really good. It also might come down to what kind of ending you like in your noir. It’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) taking on The Night of the Hunter (1955). Both advanced to the third round in very close votes—Postman beating The Big Sleep and Hunter beating The Third Man by one vote each. (I notice that Third Man got three votes after I closed voting which would have flipped the decision. Too late now.)
Here’s what I wrote about The Night of the Hunter previously.
The Night of the Hunter (1955). Directed by Charles Laughton. Starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish. A fable of good versus evil as well as the true meaning of Christianity, Mitchum stars as the “Reverend” Harry Powell, a con man and serial killer for whom the Gospel is just another tool to scam people out of their money. After a former cellmate of his, Ben Harper, (Peter Graves) is executed for a bank robbery, Powell marries and then murders Harper’s widow (Winters) in order to steal the money that Harper had stolen in the first place. But Harper gave the money to his young children, who then flee from the Reverend through Depression-era West Virginia. Powell chases the children with the intent of murdering them and stealing the money, but they are first found by the saintly Rachel Cooper (Gish), an old woman who takes in orphans.
The Night of the Hunter was not a success when it was first released, and that was probably why it ended up being the only film ever directed by Laughton. But Laughton incorporated several film techniques of German expressionism which gave the film a haunting and quite unreal look. The screenplay was credited to James Agee based on a novel from Davis Grubb, but most accounts have Laughton and Mitchum completely re-writing Agee’s script themselves.
Even though the original film was a flop, the reputation of The Night of the Hunter has only grown since then. It was just this month ranked as the 25th-best film of all-time in the BFI Sight and Sound Top 100 greatest films.
And while I didn’t plan it, it is a bit of a Christmas movie as the film ends with a Christmas celebration.
This is really the performance of his career for Mitchum. As I noted earlier, Mitchum re-wrote almost all of the Rev. Powell’s dialog alongside Laughton. There weren’t many who can show real menace like Mitchum. He’s a serial killer who is going to kill two small children, which is really dark for a pre-1967 American film.
Powell is the embodiment of pure evil and a false Christianity. That gets contrasted with the pure good (but tough-as-nails) Gish playing Rachel Cooper. It’s Cooper who knows true Christianity and therefore isn’t fooled by a false prophet, unlike everyone else Powell comes across.
I’m not showing trailers anymore because I feel I’ve featured them too many times. So here is the scene from The Night of the Hunter where Robert Mitchum murders Shelley Winters. OK, actually Mitchum’s character murders Winters’ character. Mitchum did do time in the California penal system, but it was for marijuana possession, not murder.
Here’s what I wrote earlier about 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?
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.
The Postman Always Rings Twice was just on Turner Classic Movies over this weekend, so if you have TCM, you can probably watch it on demand, either online or through your TV provider.
Here’s the scene where Frank (Garfield) first meets Cora (Turner). You can tell from this one scene that Frank has absolutely no chance against Cora.
The Night of the Hunter or The Postman Always Rings Twice?
This poll is closed
The Night of the Hunter
The Postman Always Rings Twice
You have until Wednesday evening to vote. One Wednesday night/Thursday morning, we’ll have the final quarterfinal matchup between Sunset Boulevard (1950) and The Big Heat (1953).
Welcome back to everyone who skips the music and movies.
I’m not one who gets hung up on batting order, but I do believe that the most important thing for a successful offense is for the first batter of an inning to get on base. And no one leads off an inning more than the leadoff hitter. I guess that’s kind of obvious.
The Cubs, however, did not have much success out of the first spot in the batting order last year. Batters in the leadoff spot hit a combined .228/.307/.357 in 2022. The .663 OPS from the leadoff spot was the third-lowest in the Cubs lineup, behind only the 7th and 8th position. Yes, the nine spot had a higher OPS, although the OBP was lower for the final batter in the lineup.
The hitter who had the most plate appearances in the leadoff spot last year was Rafael Ortega, who is no longer with the team. In second place was Christopher Morel, who is still on the team but no longer has an obvious position to play with the signing of Cody Bellinger. The same goes for Nick Madrigal, who had the third-most plate appearances out of the leadoff spot. The only other hitter with more than 100 plate appearances in the first spot in the order was Zach McKinstry. Again, I think the Cubs hope that McKinstry doesn’t get that many at-bats that far up in the order again in 2023.
So tonight’s question is “Who will get the most plate appearances for the Cubs out of the leadoff spot in 2023?” Honestly, I don’t know. I’m going to give you some options and let you pick. But I think most of these players can do better than what the Cubs got out of the position last year—even Madrigal and Morel.
So who will be the Cubs main leadoff hitter this year?
Who will get the most PAs for the Cubs in the leadoff spot this year?
This poll is closed
Someone else (leave in comments)
Thank you again so much for stopping by. If you checked anything, let us get it for you now. I hope that we made your evening a little more pleasant. Please get home safely. Recycle any cans and bottles. Tip your waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow for more BCB After Dark.