Humphrey Bogart as Harry Morgan, cynical fishing boat captain
Fort-de-France, Martinique, Summer 1940
Film: To Have and Have Not
Release Date: October 11, 1944
Director: Howard Hawks
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Today in 1957, the world lost one of the most iconic actors of the classic Hollywood era with the death of Humphrey Bogart at the age of 57. In the last days of his life, Bogie was surrounded by friends and loved ones like Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Frank Sinatra, and his loving wife, Lauren Bacall.
Bogie and Bacall had first met 14 years earlier when she was making her debut in To Have and Have Not, an adaptation of what director Howard Hawks considered to be the worst of Ernest Hemingway’s novels that would translate to the screen as a war romance full of wit, style, and intrigue in the tradition of Casablanca, the film that had cemented Bogart’s stardom two years earlier. Continue reading
Lee Van Cleef as Douglas Mortimer, taciturn Old West bounty hunter and former U.S. Army Colonel
El Paso, Fall 1873
Film: For a Few Dollars More
Release Date: November 18, 1965
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Carlo Simi
Where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price.
That is why the bounty hunters appeared.
…is how For a Few Dollars More introduces itself after blazing onto the screen, underlined by yet another iconic Ennio Morricone score. Clint Eastwood returns to the Sergio Leone spaghetti western scene as one of these bounty hunters, a laconic loner referred to only as “Manco”. While his dress and demeanor would imply that this was the same character he portrayed in A Fistful of Dollars the previous year, a lawsuit actually prevented Leone from using Eastwood’s “Joe” character from that film. Thus, the “Man with No Name” was born more out of legal necessity than artistic intention. Continue reading
William Holden as Pike Bishop, grizzled bandit gang leader
Coahuila, Mexico, Spring 1913
Film: The Wild Bunch
Release Date: June 18, 1969
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Costume Designer: James R. Silke
We’ve got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast.
…is what Pike Bishop wisely tells his men, an aging group of outlaws still anachronistically robbing banks and trains on horseback with a six-shooter on their hips. Pike knows the times are changing, and it doesn’t take a water-cooled machine gun or a Mexican general’s Packard to drive the point home to them.
Today would have been the 97th birthday of William Holden, who starred in classics like Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Sabrina, The Bridge on the River Kwai before taking on the role of the anachronistically self-aware Pike Bishop. Holden was one of many actors considered by Sam Peckinpah for the role; Lee Marvin had actually been cast but then turned it down to accept the higher-paying lead in Paint Your Wagon. It turned out well for Holden, who developed the character into one of the greatest movie badasses of all time… as even that sterling news source MTV agreed. Continue reading