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Saturday, August 02, 2014

A Fish Bogart Threw Back ...


Greenstreet and Lorre Tag Team On Raft in Background To Danger (1943)

George Raft dons the trench coat ordinarily worn by Humphrey Bogart to go to war with Greenstreet/Lorre. Word was that Bogart turned down Background To Danger, though he'd probably have preferred doing this to Conflict, one he vehemently rejected but was forced to act. The formula having been so set with The Maltese Falcon and Across The Pacific, Raft seems almost like a Bogart impersonator, a less welcome pinch-hitter. He had nixed parts that would elevate HB, and so dealt himself into permanent back seat behind Bogie. Raft gets a rap for being rote, but Background To Danger is one of his better ones. This actor really needed Warner machinery to prop him up. Pleasures of BTD center on heavies (Greenstreet, his Gestapo henchmen), or ones perceived as such for a first half (Lorre), but their dialogue is diluted for not having Bogart to bounce off of. It needed two to play Danger's match. Raft lacked simpatico with Lorre, who just for fun blew smoke in George's eyes during a take and got lapels twisted by his co-star for reward. GR was having none of foolishness Bogart might have indulged, ergo chemistry lost between he and Pete. Still, Background To Danger is fun, and moves like quicksilver over eighty fleet minutes, Warner tempo maintained by Raoul Walsh at helm, another from his winning wartime streak. Action is set in neutral Turkey, us shown maps and served narration to get what heck all of fuss is about, a tougher lesson seventy years out with daily events of WWII as far past. Back then, of course, news was a constant bombard out of Euro caldrons, folks knowing the region like back yards what with so many US boys in combat there.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dave K said...

Yeah, I also checked this one out as soon as it popped up on Warners Instant. No Bogie, but like you say, not bad at all!

9:51 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

Well, Raft looks good in that trenchcoat, at least, and Walsh made sure that the film moved quickly.

Speaking of that chemistry between Bogart and Lorre, Peter regarded Bogie as one of his best friends.

10:24 AM  

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