Monday, August 15, 2011

Great Dane

This weekend, David and I watched Whiplash (1948) which came out on DVD recently from the Warner Archive. While it's not a great film, it's a very enjoyable little noir that stars some of my favorite people - Dane Clark, Zachary Scott, and Eve Arden - as well as someone I'm growing to like, Alexis Smith.

As usual, it's not the overt boy-girl love story that caught my attention, but the subtler male-male relationship - in this case, between Zachary Scott and Dane Clark.

Zachary plays a paralyzed boxing promoter - a former champion - who seeks to groom another man to take his place in the ring. The homoerotic overtones are strong, as Zachary studies Dane's body obsessively, especially his legs, to see what he is made of.

Zachary smolders with jealousy not only at Dane's powerful physique and its ability to win in the ring, but also because Dane is in love with Zachary's wife. We cannot help but assume that Dane is capable of performing powerfully in that arena as well, where Zachary cannot.

Masculinity by proxy is a fascinating dynamic - Zachary needs Dane to be the man that he himself cannot be. Coveting another's body and all it can do - is just one step away from desiring it sexually...


Dane Clark, star of Whiplash

Zachary Scott (left) needs Dane Clark to be the man that he himself cannot be.


Dane Clark in the ring: man enough for two.

Closeup on Dane
Born Bernard Zanville in 1912, Dane Clark graduated from Cornell University and earned a law degree from St. John's University School of Law. During the Depression, he worked as a boxer, baseball player, construction worker, and model. From modeling he moved on to Broadway and film. His big break in the movies came in 1943, in the Bogart film Action in the North Atlantic.

11 comments:

  1. I just saw "Action in the North Atlantic" recently! My mom and I just bought the new Bogart biography "Tough Without a Gun" and have started to rewatch the Bogart films we like the most. African Queen is our favorite because we love Hepburn so much. But I could go on about his movies all day.

    -Ace

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  2. Ace, What a great way to connect with your mom. African Queen is one of the all-time greats. Besides that one, my favorite Bogart films are probably Maltese Falcon, To Have and Have Not, and The Big Sleep. I have watched each of them countless times and they never get old.

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  3. Mom and I have this wonderful book written by Kathryn Hepburn called "Making the African Queen: Or How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall, and Huston, and Almost Lost My Mind." It is a great behind-the-scenes look at that movie. I also think Sierra Madre is one of his greats, but the Maltese Falcon will always be the best.

    -Ace

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  4. Hi Ace, My partner read Kate's book and has related some of the stories to me about the making of that film - which sounds like a thorough ordeal. They suffered for their art, but what immortal art it is...

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  5. It makes you appreciate the movie all the more knowing what they went through.

    -Ace

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  6. I love Whiplash--and that entire WB stock company. I have been watching quite a bit of Mr Clark recently...

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  7. Hi FelchingPisser - You can't ever have too much of Mr. Clark.
    Thanks to the Warner Archive, so many films long unavailable are finally making it to DVD, even if they can be a bit pricey.

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  8. I cannot thank you enough for this wonderful blog. It now holds a place of prominence on my iGoogle homepage- one of the first things I see when I open my browser. Kudos! and keep up the fine work. Your labor of love is appreciated!

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  9. Fairy Godfather - and I can't thank YOU enough for your kind words and encouragement. I'm so glad you are enjoying.

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  10. my all time favorite with Scott was " the mask of Demetrius " 1944, Zachary Scotts first film. what a cast Lorre, Greenstreet, and Scott with a really great array of 1940's character actors. a masterpiece of intrigue and suspense.

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  11. Hi Anonymous, I love that film!

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