Ebert on Bogart

Roger Ebert is such an incredible writer. His writing is so lucid and complete, and you can really sense his passion for film. This is one of my favorite things I have ever read on Humphrey Bogart, found in Ebert's review of 1946's THE BIG SLEEP, a favorite movie of mine, as well as an essential film noir. These two paragraphs are the best description I've read about the Bogart/Bacall chemistry and nicely define what I enjoy about watching Bogart.

"Bogart himself made personal style into an art form. What else did he have? He wasn't particularly handsome, he wore a rug, he wasn't tall ("I try to be," he tells Vickers), and he always seemed to act within a certain range. Yet no other movie actor is more likely to be remembered a century from now. And the fascinating subtext in "The Big Sleep" is that in Bacall he found his match.

"You can see it in his eyes: Sure, he's in love, but there's something else, too. He was going through a messy breakup with his wife, Mayo, when they shot the picture. He was drinking so heavily he didn't turn up some days, and Hawks had to shoot around him. He saw this coltish 20-year-old not only as his love but perhaps as his salvation. That's the undercurrent. It may not have been fun to live through, but it creates a kind of joyous, desperate tension on the screen. And since the whole idea of film noir was to live through unspeakable experiences and keep your cool, this was the right screenplay for this time in his life."

-Roger Ebert, excerpt from his review of The Big Sleep.

I also really enjoy that last line, "the whole idea of film noir was to live through unspeakable experiences and keep your cool." It is such a wonderful description of noir.

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