Humphrey Bogart plays Sam Spade to a T - very cool and wolfish. Again, I was reminded of my old man.
In the darkness of the basement, reality faded away and the exaggerated world of the film took over. The story is deceptively simple. A beautiful blond who goes by the name Miss Wunderly arrives on Spade's doorstep, claiming that her sister has absconded with a thug named Floyd Thursby. When Spade's partner tails Thursby, both men end up dead. It turns out that Miss Wunderly's real name is Brigid O'Shaughnessy - or so she claims. At first, it isn't clear what she wants from Spade, beyond a little assurance that he can shield her from police interrogation. But as she paces around her hotel room in a slinky striped robe - wringing her hands, her face vacant as a porcelain bowl - he's on to her duplicitousness and feminine wiles. The shadows of the Venetian blinds play over her body and you just know she can't be trusted. It's as though she's dead inside, imprisoned within her own dark, desperate mood.
There was something uncomfortably familiar about her premeditated gestures and cries. And then it hit me - she reminded me of my grandmother. My grandmother, the femme fatale.
My earliest memories of Granny are of the period when her beauty was beginning to fade, but even so, she remained a lovely woman - an ex-beauty queen - and everyone assumed she looked much too young to be anyone other than my mother. This was awkward for me, but she loved it, giggling histrionically and leaning forward on the edge of her chair.
"My father was the one who enrolled me in beauty pageants," she once told me. "He taught me to walk lightly on stage. Women in Japan walk lightly like they're floating on air." She reminisced about how the year she was seventeen, her parents had sent her back to Toyama in hopes that the matchmaker would find a rich husband. Three men had proposed.
But if this was so, why had she returned to Canada shortly before the war? Her cryptic relationship to Japan veiled her in mystery and unknown origins, both drawing me in and keeping me at bay.
And now she was dying. Her skin still appeared smooth as she lay in bed, but her arms were twitching like she was possessed, and her leg would be amputated any day.
Photo from: here