Thursday, March 31, 2011

Craw and Order

For Hamilton Burger and Tragg
the streak they were on was a drag
When losing each case
they tasted disgrace
On crow they were starting to gag

William Talman and Ray Collins as D.A. Hamiltton Burger and police Lt. Arthur Tragg, in TV's Perry Mason.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

R.I.P. Farley Granger

The handsome young actor named Granger
on a train had a chat with a stranger
This Joe, oh-so strange,
proposed an exchange--
though Farley did not see the danger

Farewell to Farley Granger. Above: Granger and Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951).

Ham Burger on Wry

Each loss to his nemesis Mason
the D.A.'s destruction did hasten
By legal hail Mary
each case versus Perry
was flushed in the circular basin

William Talman as that perennial loser, District Attorney Hamilton Burger, on TV's Perry Mason.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Glowing in Style

You'll pardon this surly old hack
as he pats himself hard on the back
His Limerwrecks scored
a Stylish Award
Why couldn't it land him a plaque?

Limerwrecks has been given a Stylish Blogger Award. We received this honor from Jacqueline T. Lynch of Another Old Movie Blog. Well, Jacqueline was the first to award us thusly. "Stylish", apparently, does not refer to wardrobe, as my budget and I are strictly thriftstore. The award was correctly given to our entire "contributing staff." A sort of "chain" award, the rules state that to accept the award we must list seven random facts about ourselves, and, in turn, pass it along to seven other deserving bloggers. And so...

Seven random facts about the Surly Hack:

1. Likes Twizzlers at the movies.
2. Worries that watching I Dream of Jeannie as a lad warped his expectations of relationships.
3. Never forwards chain letters, and yet is taking part in this exercise.
4. Watching Jacques Tourneur's films have made him even more superstitious than he already was.
5. He's quite terrible at grammar.
6. Started writing limericks after reading a comic book script by his friend Steve Sullivan.
7. Wrote his first limericks for a Simpsons Treehouse of Horror comic book.

The Surly Hack, continuing to refer to himself in the third person, chooses the Self-Styled Siren, his first and still favorite film blogger on Hollywood's golden age; he also honors Ferdy on Films, one the nicest and brightest people he's ever met--in or out of the blogosphere; and lastly, not leastly, Surly raises a glass of bubbly to the equally talented and personable Suzi Doll, author, teacher and blogger at TCM's Movie Morlocks.

Norm Knott cites the bloggers at The Third City for hard-boiled, par-boiled and soft-boiled prose done The Chicago Way; he pitches BardBall for the poetry of baseball captured poetically, but Surly thinks he loves it as a place to bash the Cubs.

David Cairns gets on the Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire, calling it "a lovely, weird, funny blog about trash cinema, euro-horror and exotic schlock. Sweet."; he gives a nod to Craig Keller of Masters of Cinema for running one of the smartest film blogs there is, Cinemasparagus.

Siren Strong

The blog of the Siren, self-styled
consists of her writings compiled
On films of the past
her knowledge is vast
And by her, this film buff's beguiled

Farran Smith Nehme, aka the Self-Styled Siren, is my favorite film blogger, bar none. Mainly because she's a terrific writer on films that interest me, but also because she was my first--er, um..that is, her blog was the first one I fell in love with. The Siren is also the co-chair of the annual blogathon for film preservation, For the Love of Film.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Aye-Aye, Ferdy

In praise of the blogger named Ferdy
Her writing is pithy, not wordy
This blogathon star
is saving film noir
by keeping our eye on the birdie

Marilyn Ferdinand (seen here with partner-in-blog Roderick Heath), aka Ferdy of the blog Ferdy on Films, is the beautiful brains behind the For the Love of Film blogathon, an annual fundraiser for film preservation. The "birdie" is a reference to the Maltese Falcon statuette, aka the black bird, which was used in the icon above as a donation link to the Film Noir Foundation during this year's successful 'thon. Due to the lack of large donors, we didn't raise as much money as last year, but there were many more individuals giving to the cause. Thanks to all who so generously contributed! And if you haven't done so, there's still time. Just click on the black bird!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Plum Tuckered Out of the Past

Defenseless, they're under the spell
of this menacing mademoiselle
But trying to keep her
they meet the grim reaper
and end up together in hell

Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). No, we'll never tire of Out of the Past, but for the present we're moving on.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chin Musical

In dimples this duo is dueling
Where drool from some damsel is pooling
Each well-chiseled chin
juts out but tucks in
The shaving alone must be grueling

Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). This was inspired by the top photo and post at Orange Crate Art. And it reminds me of a scene in Strangers When We Met: Kim Novak playfully muses that it must be difficult for Douglas to shave his dimple, and Kirk tells her he uses a tiny pair of scissors. Here's an earlier limerick referring to the famous Douglas chin.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Suddenly, This Spring

My favorite was "Butterfield 8"
In fur coat and slip, she looked great
Those violet eyes
made temperatures rise
The last of her kind, no debate

Elizabeth Taylor, actress, humanitarian and screen beauty has passed away, leaving behind a fine passel of great films and performances.

Out of the Passion

The two of them make quite a pair
Their future's a grave that they'll share
He looks in her eyes
and knows that she lies
But "Baby," says Jeff, "I don't care."

Kathie (Jane Greer) and Jeff (Robert Mitchum) can't escape each other in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sold Out of the Past

To Kathie, Jeff Bailey's succumbing
At his future, his nose he is thumbing
And so he devises
their early demises,
'cause that way he knows when it's coming

Jeff (Robert Mitchum) and Kathie (Jane Greer) beat it Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Feverish

In spring, when a fella gets antsy,
the young man turns lightly his fancy
And boy starts to dream
of peaches and cream--
That is, if he isn't a Nancy

Sorry about that. From the poem Locksley Hall, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, not the Edison Electric short from 1952: In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

Fate Accompli

The finish is coming--and fast
It's fate, and it's going to last
Look over your shoulder
There's no growing older
Your future was set in the past

Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum peer into the darkness in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Little Miss Moffat

The men are attracted like flies
by bedrooms they see in her eyes
They're sadly mistaken,
and when they awaken,
it isn't Miss Moffat who dies

Like a seductive spider, Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) spins her web in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Image source: hal0000

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Net Worthless

Jeff Bailey is caught in a net
If he knew he'd be starting to sweat
Her lips were the bait
One kiss sealed his fate
Though not that he's wise to it yet

Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) and Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Past Away

The moll of a gambler named Whit,
this doll took his money and split
He sent a detective,
who lost his perspective,
The lot of them shared an obit

Fabulous femme fatale Jane Greer plays both Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas (Whit Sterling) in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Image: Greer, just after being slapped by Douglas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All Bets are Off-Putting

He's risking it all on a bet
on back-stabbing, two-faced brunette
And spinning the wheel
could mean his last meal
when the game is called Russian Roulette

Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer ) and Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) let it ride at the roulette table: Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Jeff: That's not the way to win. Kathie: Is there a way to win? Jeff: There's a way to lose more slowly. Image source: Hollywood Pictures and

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Over and Out of the Past

Staying clear of the well-beaten track,
they ran--but they couldn't unpack
Wherever they went,
it wouldn't relent--
the past kept on pulling them back

Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Paul Valentine in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947).
A tag-line for the film read: "A man - Trying to run away from his past... A woman - Trying to escape her future."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Route of the Past

He wandered down Mexico way
and stopped in a quiet cafe
Though sent there to get her
he fell when he met her
while knowing that someday he'll pay

Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) finds Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer) irresistible in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947). Kathie lies to Jeff, then asks if he believes her. Jeff replies, "Baby, I don't care."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Past Out

She sauntered in out of the sun
and haunted her table for one
The lady in white
belonged to the night
Undaunted by smoke from a gun

Jane Greer, unforgettable as femme fatale Kathie Moffat in Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1948). Read our earlier limericks on Greer and Out of the Past, here. Image source, top: Krell Laboratories; Below: Having fun smoking in bed while promoting Past--from Film Noir Photos.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Game, Set and Matchless

The scheme salesman Walter Neff hatches
has come with a couple of catches:
A blonde femme fatale
and a boss on their trail
Poor Walter will run out of matches

Edward G. Robinson and Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944).

Friday, March 11, 2011

Shark Fin-ish

Like sharks when there's blood in the water
they circle then close for the slaughter
Her redhead he bleaches
so Rita then teaches
him wickedness living has taught her

Orson Welles as Michael O'Hara and Rita Hayworth as Elsa Bannister in The Lady from Shanghai. Read Doug Bonner's analysis of Shanghai as a reflection of Welles' and Hayworth's relationship at Post Modern Joan.
References: O'Hara compares the other characters to sharks; Director (and then estranged husband) Welles had Hayworth cut and bleach her famous hair; Elsa tells Michael " You know nothing about wickedness."
Our Lady from Shanghai limericks have devoured themselves. Tomorrow we write off Double Indemnity, then we see if we can run out of Out of the Past.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Imperfect Couple

One moment they're kissing--then plotting
Their insides are missing--or rotting
They land in a jam
from murderous scam
and soon their own blood they are blotting.

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray make a toxic combo in Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Critical Muss

Some critics find Lady confusing
Their place in the plot they keep losing
They turn when it's twisting,
its pleasures resisting,
and think that the writer was boozing

Everett Sloane and Orson Welles in Welles' black comedy noir, The Lady From Shanghai (1948). Welles is often been criticized for sacrificing storytelling for the sake of style, but I find his films engaging because they are so byzantine. They play like mysteries about something far deeper than simply whodunnit. The Stranger is one of his most straightforward films, and one of his least interesting. In Shanghai, Welles' churning, crazy-quilt visual style is mirrored in the twisting, convoluted narrative, a narrative tied to the maneuvering of its duplicitous and unreliable characters. Shanghai looks and and feels like a vertiginous world tottering on the brink of...what? The apocalypse? Welles original vision will likely never be fully known. The studio cut it by as much as an hour--and the excised footage is lost.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Strafing Dish

Her taste is a little bit garish
but dating this dish is nightmarish
The suckers she crosses
all suffer big losses
To love her you may have to perish

Barbara Stanwyck tarts up Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944). The French title kills me, but this doesn't kill our limericks on Double Indemnity.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Send in the Marine

The creepy aquarium scene
Just what do those sea creatures mean?
Symbolic? Poetic?
For certain kinetic
They move and envelop the screen

Welles, Hayworth visit the aquarium in The Lady From Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1948).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Venetian Bind

In darkness this duo's defined
by light through the slats of a blind
The pair was condemned,
by shadows were hemmed,
the moment insurance was signed

In blackness the couple's confined
Like bars in a cell they are lined
They're not playing straight,
each eying their mate,
awaiting a fate that's unkind

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, entwined in the dark of Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944). The film was shot by John F. Seitz, with art direction by Hans Dreier and Hal Pereira.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Out of Cruise Control

A lawyer and lady set sail
He's crippled, she's shady fatale
A sailor's the small fry
and made-to-be fall guy
and if he knew better he'd bail

The characters drift on a yacht
in search of a plausible plot
Of murder, accused
the seaman's confused
'cause really, he doesn't know squat

Glenn Anders, Everett Sloane, Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles as seaman Michael O'Hara in Welles' corrosive black comedy noir, The Lady From Shanghai (1948). "I told you," says Hayworth to Welles, " know nothing about wickedness."