Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Doors Made Me Do It: Notes on They Drive by Night

This blog is going to be Ida Lupino-themed for the rest of the month. I love that lady with all my heart and can't wait to share what I have planned.

To whet your appetite, I decided to try something new and write down every random thought I had while watching They Drive by Night. I don't usually take notes because it distracts me from watching movies, but I've literally watched the damn thing five times in the last two weeks and didn't think note-taking would be such a bad thing the fifth time around. Over the course of making this post, I realized that Lupino's Lana Carlsen is now one of my very favorite female characters. You will find out more about that very soon, but I hope my notes give some hints as to why I think she's so great.

They Drive by Night is a very odd, wonderful movie that's both incredibly dark and noir-ish in places and bust-a-gut funny in others. I can't think of another movie that features both someone like Roscoe Karns being hilarious at every possible turn and someone like Ida Lupino who dramatically sweeps through portions like a tsunami in almost the very next scene. I love They Drive by Night dearly.

FYI, these notes are chock-full of spoilers and written as if you know what the hell is going on in the movie. So, if you haven't seen it, I don't know if this post is for you. If you have seen it, I hope you enjoy the notes and pretty screengrabs. 

What's your favorite Raoul Walsh movie?

Man, Jerry Wald was awesome. I should write an essay about him.
George Raft was such a dick.

$12.90 for a tank of gas? Whoa.
Aw, Bogie. How old was he here? *calculates* 41.

I wonder if Jake's dad talks to other truckers like that.
Forget the fruit, I'll settle for a cup of American coffee. 
Roscoe Karns is a national treasure. I could watch him play pinball all day.
People who pick their teeth in public are gross.
Ann Sheridan! Sass and class in one wartime bundle.

Waitress uniforms were so much snazzier back then.
That guy looks like Randolph Scott from behind.
Sam Jaffe look alike.
“All right, that's enough of the x-ray treatment.”
“Don't get me wrong sister, all you make me think about is how much I'd like to be with my wife.”

Go, Bogie, Go!

I wonder how much $300 in 1940 currency is in 2012 currency.
I really want to punch someone.
I wonder if Ida Lupino thought of this scene when she was making The Hitch-Hiker.

Truckers don't seem to understand the gravity of sexual harassment in the workplace.
“You're going to knock your teeth out chattering if we don't get something hot into ya.”

Move those hips, Roscoe.
That dude is going to die soon and it will be sad.
Clouzot stole a lot from this movie for Wages of Fear.
Walsh directed the shit out of the truck scenes.
Aw, he died.

Ya know, now that I think about it, the beginning of this movie is eerily similar to Only Angels Have Wings, except in that movie Rita Hayworth doesn't murder Richard Barthelmess and there's no jolly musical number to lift our spirits after the first person dies.
All landladies should be that nice.
George Raft doesn't have a clue about women. Ann Sheridan should just move in with Bogie and his wife William Moulton Marston style. Or, better yet, Bogie should leave his wife and move in with Ida and Ann.

That is great wallpaper.
What a creep.

I know Ann Sheridan was a redhead, but she has the cinematic aura of a blonde.
I need to find some combs like that. Wow, it literally took her 30 seconds to do her hair.
Ew! George Raft morning breath.
That fella should eat more watermelon.
Oh, hey, look, I'm a short guy and I need to prove my masculinity by beating up this fella who is a foot taller than I am.
It's a crime that Ida Lupino doesn't show up until 30 minutes in.
What a fantastic dress and hat.
I don't think I could be married to Alan Hale either. He would be a good boss, though.

I really want to punch someone.
Ida sticking her leg out like that explains everything about her character. It's no rich gal Colbert gam display, it's more like a poor dame trying to make good and show off. Reminds me of Joan Crawford's Crystal Allen. 
“That's just like Lana, right on the trigger every time.” And, that, my friends, is the perfect way to describe Ida Lupino.
You are not James Cagney. Stop it.

Why, Ida, why?!

Ya know, if he had told her RIGHT THEN that he was interested in another woman, this movie would be a whole lot less interesting.

I just noticed what George Raft is wearing – a long sleeved shirt underneath a collared shirt? Let alone not owning a pair of pants with a crease in them. Tsk tsk.
Bogie always seems to be at the bottom.

I want those dog statues.

Loyal is Bogie's middle name. I love the way he says “Pearl.”
I wish I could make that much money in five minutes.

Cassie doesn't seem like a name that would be popular in 1940.
What a strange split screen. Noir pillow talk.
Pull over Bogie, just pull over!
That's right up there with Angel Face for one of the best car crashes in cinema. Poor pears.
Watching Ida plot and scheme is a great joy. She purrs like a rattlesnake.
Handsome Handless Humphrey.
Bogie is finally at the top of the frame.

Why doesn't he just invite Ann Sheridan to the party?
Sexy fun time.
He would be an incredibly frustrating person to live with.
Lana Carlsen is the film noir version of Crawford's Sadie McKee. 
Don't worry Roscoe, I would probably do that even if I was sober.

But I can fix it.
Bwhahaha. I don't like to see Alan Hale die, but I love to see Ida Lupino go after what she wants.
No more coffee for you.
You are no Greek God, George.
You're too good for him, Ida. He doesn't like aggressive women.
I can't think of a classic Hollywood actress who was ever in the same outfit twice. Not that she doesn't look absolutely smashing. 
Snap went Ida's sanity.
What guy wouldn't love to hear that?

She totally would have gotten away with it if she had kept her mouth shut.
What a pretty prison dress.
Poor Ida. She set her love up in an ideal life position and he shared it with someone else. Ungrateful wretch. In reality, Ann is far more manipulative than Ida. Just wait 10 more minutes to see.
God damn, she can play unhinged really well.
“The doors made me do it!”
Yeah, let's keep everything Ida set-up and made happen without appreciating or thanking her at all and live happily ever after.

Bottom line: Don't pull others out of the gutter and expect anything in return.