Tag Archives: Elisha Cook Jr.

The Set of 400: #89 – My Favorite Gent From Frisco

Today! Because I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon –

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Directed by John Huston

Starring Humphrey Bogart (x2), Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre (x2), Elisha Cook Jr. (x3), Gladys George, Ward Bond (x2), Barton MacLane, Lee Patrick, Jerome Cowan

I had a kick for a few years where I would buy people replica movie props as gifts. I don’t know why, it seems like kind of a cool idea, right? Like, you know someone is into a movie and you find some random junk an Etsy store threw together and boom! Box checked on that gift occasion! Got my wife a “Don’t Fuck with Mr. Zero” t-shirt that she never wears in public from this concept! But I think my favorite item I handed out in this weird stretch was a replica Falcon to my dad one Christmas, which came wrapped sort of like in the movie, and does look pretty authentic, to the grainy 1941 film anyway. It still awkwardly sits near the fireplace at my mom’s house, totally not going with any decor scheme attempted. I’m gonna recommend slapping a Santa hat on that guy next year – maybe that’ll help.

Based on the classic Dashiell Hammett novel, The Maltese Falcon is Bogart cool at its peak. At a stretch, he made Falcon, Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and Key Largo (with a bunch of lesser fare thrown in), cementing his iconic style of unflappable toughness and half-lisp mumbling. And sure, Casablanca is better, and also features Greenstreet and Lorre in very similar roles (They appeared in nine movies together! Greenstreet only made 23 films total in nine years working!), but Falcon has gritty, San Fran crime noir backstabbing at its core, with the most sought after treasure in history hypnotizing the entire criminal underworld.

Best pals?

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The Set of 400: #178 – My Favorite Shoddy Luggage

Today! Because you’d be killing a horse, that’s not first degree murder. In fact it’s not murder at all, in fact I don’t know what it is –

The Killing (1956)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick (x2)

Starring Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook Jr. (x2), Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Marie Windsor, Joe Sawyer, Timothy Carey, Jay C. Flippen, Ted de Corsia, Kola Kwariani, James Edwards

The first great Stanley Kubrick movie, The Killing came directly on the heels of the slight, interestingly photographed Killer’s Kiss (1955) and Fear and Desire (1953), but represented such a massive uptick in quality as to render these early films obsolete in the canon. For the longest time, this was also the earliest Kubrick film you could find – the other two having fallen out circulation to an extreme degree, so The Killing is sometimes even now still referred to (or maybe just thought of) as his first film.

Such an avant garde filmmaker was Kubrick that it’s interesting to watch his good 1950’s films – this and Paths of Glory – to see how he operates in the technical limitations of the time. Lolita and Strangelove still have some of this going on, too, but it’s more pronounced here, pre-Spartacus, when Kubrick didn’t yet have free reign to make movies however he liked. The Killing is a touch hindered by the overbearing narration that, while probably keeping the run time down, doesn’t feel 100% necessary (Kubrick was apparently forced to include it by the studio). Some of the acting in the early going is a little jangly, too – Hayden and Cook do most of the heavy lifting throughout, but especially in the run up to the heist.

Hayden accurately diagnoses everyone

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The Set of 400: #294 – My Favorite Rolling Ferris Wheel

Today! Because I fought your kind in the Great War, and we kicked the living shit out of you –

1941 (1979)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd (x3), Ned Beatty (x2), Christopher Lee (x4), Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune (x2), John Candy (x4), Nancy Allen, Lorraine Gary (x2), Warren Oates, Slim Pickens, Robert Stack, Treat Williams, Murray Hamilton (x3), Elisha Cook Jr., Patti LuPone, Eddie Deezen, Perry Lang, Wendie Jo Sperber, Joe Flaherty, David L. Lander, Michael McKean (x3), Don Calfa, Susan Backlinie, Jerry Hardin, Audrey Landers, Dick Miller (x3), Mickey Rourke

For those of you unfamiliar with this movie – can you believe the above cast got together in ’79 and put on an epic war comedy? And under the direction of the king, Steven Spielberg, following his massive success with Jaws and Close Encounters? Doesn’t it make you want to run out and see what this movie could possibly be?? How have you avoided it all these years? Do it!

And for those of you already familiar with this movie, SHUT UP.

I’m not Titanic-level defensive about 1941, but that’s because most people either didn’t see it or don’t remember it enough to argue about it. And look, I know there is a lot wrong with this movie. It only sort of functions as a comedy – it’s like a less funny It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with explosions and extended choreographed fistfights – and sort of functions as a war movie. But the premise is solid enough and the cast is terrific that, even though it doesn’t totally deliver, it’s still a pretty entertaining movie. Continue reading

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