Thursday, October 27, 2011

14-karat Sap

Calling High Sierra a "noir" is like calling Casablanca a war movie. And even mentioning those two films in the same breath is an insult to Casablanca. And I don't even really like Casablanca all that much. I was hoping for at least some Ocean's 11 cleverness in the scheme for Humphrey Bogart's  "one last job" to knock over a hotel. No. It was the most uneventful heist ever. The waiter didn't even put down his tray of water.

The movie's real interest is in the love life of "Mad Dog" Earle. Did I mention that Mad Dog basically just sort of strolls around during the heist? It's the most inappropriate nickname ever. Anyway, he falls for this farmer's (grand)daughter named Velma who's a "cripple." Once he comes up with the dough to fix her foot, using a crooked snake oil salesman as a contact, she very nicely turns down his marriage proposal, offering the sound reasoning that she doesn't love him. Makes sense--they've known each other for like fifteen minutes. But you see, Mad Dog likes the dependent women, so he moves on to Marie, an emotional cripple.

Marie is a walking, talking, sniveling avatar for co-dependency. The parallels the film draws between her and Pard the dog would be funny if they weren't so blatant and insulting. Example? They both whine and basically lick Mad Dog's hands after he dies. She follows him around, begs for his affection, caters to his every need like, well, like Pard, except Pard has an excuse because he's, you know, a DOG. And this makes Mad Dog fall in love with her, naturally, but only after he finds out Velma has reconnected with her boyfriend from back home.

And I get that it's troubling that Velma's dude only shows up after her foot gets fixed, but is it really such a disaster that she's in love with a guy who likes to drink and dance versus the THIEF AND DOUBLE MURDERER?

Oh, and there's lots of racism, too.
Anyway, I liked the dog.

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