I had feared for awhile that I’d burned myself out a little bit on writing about Humphrey Bogart. I’d finished my goal of watching all the available films of course, but I still have a back log of books, radio shows, and Bogie boozes to discuss. The blog has suffered.
This is how I know that Denny Ledger’s book is a good one. Halfway through his chapter on The Maltese Falcon, I tossed the book aside because of my overwhelming urge to re-watch the film with new eyes.
Great film criticism doesn’t just describe the overall artistic and entertainment aspects of a movie – it compels you to watch and continually revisit the film it expounds upon. Great film criticism can enlighten you as to why specific portions of a film feel so right. It can alter your perspective on how and why you watch a film. It can both endear you to a film in new ways and bring your attention to its flaws all in the same paragraph or essay.
Here’s my advice for anyone who loves Bogart, Huston, or any of the nine films they collaborated on – get Denny Ledger’s book, skip straight to the chapter on The Maltese Falcon, and reacquaint yourself with one of cinema’s greatest films.
Ledger’s bibliography alone lets you know he’s done the research. It’s the way he compiles it together though, along with wonderfully astute observations of his own, that make the book engaging to a guy like me who often feels like he’s read everything and then some about Bogart.
Who’s lit with natural light and when.
Who almost always lies and who almost always tells the truth.
Where do Spade’s loyalties lie – and it’s not with partners, women, truth, or justice.
These things have all been covered before, but Ledger arranges his book in such a way that the relationship between Bogart and Huston is constantly inter-played between historical information, Ledger’s personal insight, and some of the most in-depth research spanning pretty much any Bogart or Huston book worth reading.
Is the rest of the book worth reading? Heck ya. But why read about a book when you could read the real thing. Go get Denny Ledger’s book here and just try to tell me you didn’t stop multiple times through to watch a film he discusses. Just try it.
I dare you.
Thank you, Denny, for giving me a Bogart-boost I needed to get writing again. Now if you’ll excuse me, I got a bottle of gin to drink and review.
*Denny Ledger’s new book ‘A Reasonable Amount of Trouble…’ The Films of John Huston and Humphrey Bogart is available now on Amazon here – and it’s cheap so you ain’t got no excuse in buying it!*