Friday, March 9, 2012

Similarities, similarities

The first is watching Howard Hawks's 1944 To Have and Have Not starring Humphey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The film is uncannily similar to Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) in several ways. Instead of Bogart in the role of a nightclub owner he's a commercial fisherman. But in both cases he plays the reluctant hero to the French Resistance during the Vichy Regime of Nazi-occupied France. The romance with "Slim" (Bacall's character) parallels Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa . The Martinique police captain Renard (Dan Seymour) is analogous to Moroccan capt. Louis Renault (Claude Rains). And there's even a piano player. Hoagy Carmichael performs as Cricket compared to Dooley Wilson as Sam in the earlier film.

Meanwhile, I couldn't stop thinking I was watching Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in the 1968 film by Noel Black, Pretty Poison. When McGuinty was first elected premier people kept calling him Norman Bates, a reference to Anthony Perkins's iconic character in Hitchcock's Psycho (1960). But the resemblance is almost unsettling (and that's no comment on the mentality of the current Liberal government!). In Pretty Poison Perkins plays Dennis Pitt, a mentally disturbed - given Perkins's typecasting, what else? - young man trying to re-establish his life. Until, that is, he meets a sociopath by the name of Sue Anne Stepenek (Tuesday Weld) who leads the poor guy astray. But for the life of me I kept thinking I was watching the Ontario premier, and not Perkins. That's because Perkins and McGuinty have the same slim height and dark hair, the furrowed eyebrows, the beady eyes, and the studied, halting manners of speech. OMG, generations apart but somehow separated at birth?!

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