This weekend marks the start of the American Cinematheque's 17th annual Film Noir festival. Over two weeks, they're showing 26 movies, bringing in 100-year old Patricia Morison to talk about acting in "Fallen Sparrow," and showing noir films from Britain and Argentina you probably haven't seen.
Saturday, it's a Bogart double-feature, with "Dark Passage," starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and then "This Last Lonely Place," produced by the Bogart estate's Santana Films.
Stephen Bogart, the son of Bogart and Bacall, joined Off-Ramp host John Rabe to talk noir, making movies, and the estate's latest effort: Bogart's Gin, which will be premiered at the festival's wrap party.
What are the hallmarks of a noir film? What does it have to have? How does it have to make you feel?
“Well I think it’s gotta be quick. It’s not a very slow thing. A lot of staccato language. A lot of Fred McMurray Barbara Stanwyck kind of stuff... my father. And it’s gotta have the bad guys and the good guys and the bad girls and the good girls. But it’s gotta be fun too... They’re over-the-top, but in a good way.”
I think you’ve also have had to have some tragedy in your life to really get a noir film.
“Well, which one of us hasn’t? If you live long enough -- I’m 66 -- and if you live long enough, something’s gonna happen that’s not good... You talk about the CG and all the animation and all the stuff that’s being done nowadays, but noir films come down to really good stories. And quick stories. And it can be a day, it can be a week, it can be, you know, search for the Maltese Falcon.”
“Dark Passage” has everything. Not just your parents but a script that comes from a David Goodis story... But I do think the relationship between the two of them [Bogart and Bacall] helped sell this idea. In all their movies. There’s that wonderful warmth.
“Absolutely. And it started with ‘To Have and Have Not’ of course. You know, the story goes -- and it’s true -- they fell in love in ‘To Have and Have Not.’ My mother was a big Cary Grant fan. So she was gonna star with my father and she wasn’t too excited about that. It’s like ‘Eh, you know, I’m not really attracted to this guy.’ But that changed in a second.”
Why did you decide to start making movies?
“Robbert is my partner [Robbert J.F. De Klerk]. You met him outside. We decided to resurrect Santana Productions, which was my father’s film production company... named for his boat, Santana. We just thought it would be a great thing to resurrect it and make movies that you could make for under a million bucks... So we’re contracted to make five movies... And they’re gonna be noir, they’re gonna be kind of the way he was from that time. And the first one is ‘This Last Lonely Place.’
The Bogart Estate has done a really good job of keeping itself current. You’re on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram... And you’re selling gin.
“Selling gin. So, Bogart’s Gin, we got together with John Paul DeJoria, who started Patrón as well as Paul Mitchell hair products... It’s made by the same gin maker who makes the gin for the Queen of England.”