Monday, June 25, 2012

The Two Bogeys

Okay, to be fair, there's probably more than two, but no doubt about it, Humphrey Bogart was an actor's actor.  I mean, look at that!  #7 in the IMDb!  Fred Astaire's #1... okay, maybe it's just alphabetical, the way they've set up their database.  Is it ODBC?  SQL?  Sorry about the nerd-speak, but as you can tell, it's unemployed nerd nerd-speak.  But if you had to break up Bogey into two broad categories... and believe me, in the internet age, everything has to be broken into two broad categories... there's the Casablanca Bogey (hero) and there's the Treasure of the Sierra Madre Bogey (bad guy).  In 1945's Conflict, it's the latter.
So here's the setup.  Bogey seems to have it all: a big house, a great career, and lots of friends.  Probably rich, too.  We see him getting ready to go to a fancy schmancy party.  But then, we peel back a few of the layers, and we see that he's unhappy.  His wife's unhappy, too, but she seems to be part of the problem, to put it mildly.  Bogey lays all his cards on the table: he's attracted to his wife's younger sister, even though she's sporting quite a lot of baby fat, especially in her facial region.  Well, youth trumps that, sometimes.  Bogey's wife lays her cards on the table: she's not getting a divorce, and she's not going anywhere.  Off to Sydney Greenstreet's party they go. 
That's the first problem with the movie right there.  Sydney Greenstreet's the good guy.  Bogey can do both good and bad guys, but Greenstreet's got to be the bad guy who wants that falcon for himself or the last ticket out of Casablanca for himself.  Just got to.  But even though the movie's kind of weak, I'd just hate to spoil the plot for you.  Why should I suffer alone?  Needless to say, Bogey gets his wish, and gets to make a pass at the younger sister.  Unfortunately for Bogey, he finds that that bowl of milk's curdled... okay, bad metaphor.  To put it bluntly, it's not right to make a pass at your wife's younger sister.  Didn't he see that Seinfeld episode?  Or that Simpsons episode?  Okay, Mr. Burns can get away with it... but that's it!  It's WRONG to make a pass at your wife's younger sister, particularly while the wife is missing.  Bogey's character was smart about the wrong things.  Besides, it'd be worse if the younger sister was into it... right?  He didn't see that Seinfeld episode either!  Two or three of them, if I remember correctly...
So, to summarize, the movie's kinda lame, and not just because it doesn't exactly live up to its title.  Perhaps The Creepy Older Gentleman would've been more apt, but that would give away crucial plot points.  Or maybe Careful What You Wish For.  But because it's a '40s era noir pic, and because Greenstreet is a man of science... in this case, brain science... he delivers some crucial scientific principles about his discipline.  I forget what they are at the moment, but they have something to do with a man who thinks he's planned the perfect crime.  Also, there are shades of Joe vs. The Volcano as Bogey keeps seeing the same ominous teepee shape everywhere after he's committed his little crime.  Spoiler alert: Greenstreet's there at the end of the movie when Bogey returns to the scene of the crime just to make sure the body's still there, and Greenstreet's there when they're walking Bogey away in handcuffs.  Some might say that this is the end of a beautiful friendship; I say it's the beginning of a beautiful prison correspondence!

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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