The Asphalt Jumble
The other day, TCM was showing The Asphalt Jungle. I'd seen it but wanted to watch it again, so I recorded it. I got around to watching it last night.
The recording had TCM's opening introduction. Apparently, they've been running a bunch of film noir that have been hosted by a fellow named Eddie Muller, who heads a film noir organization, and he referred to himself as "I'm also known as the Tsar of Noir," which struck me as a bit pompous, but he was fairly informative and clearly loved the subject so...fine, whatever.
There's a point to this, so bear with me.
In his introduction, he talked about how the movie officially stars Sterling Hayden and Jean Hagen, but it's a true ensemble cast, and Sam Jaffe got a best supporting actor nomination for the Oscars, and "Louis Calhern should have, too." He talked a bit more, being the expert that he is, the Tsar of Noir, after all, and then the movie began.
As the opening credits started, it turned out that the stars of the movie were not Sterling Hayden and Jean Hagen, as he said, but on the first card, listed by themselves, were Sterling Hayden...and Louis Calhern. And on the next card, where all the supporting actors were listed, bunched together in a vertical row, that's where Jean Hagen's name was.
That's the reason Louis Calhern didn't get a supporting actor nomination. He was listed as one of the movie's two leading stars! You couldn't miss it, it was the first card.
And Jean Hagen is not one of the two stars. In fact, she has good role, but quite a small one. Nothing to do with the main plot that drives the story, but a young woman in love with Sterling Hayden who early on stays with him for a couple days and then leaves, and then much later on he needs a place to hide out and stays with her, and then near the very end she tries to help him escape. How Mr. Muller got that she was one of the stars from watching the movie is hard to grasp. And all the more so since the opening credits make blatantly clear that the stars are Hayden and Calhern.
And if he was getting popcorn during the credits and missed them, all he had to do was look at the poster.
Honestly, I don't mind when people screw up, even experts. It happens. I screw up. But if you're going to go out of your way and tell everyone to make sure they know that you are not only an expert, but the "Tsar of Noir"...you've set a standard that you are asking everybody to judge you by and really ought to at least get the stars of the movie right, when it's written right there in front of you. And most experienced self-proclaimed Tsars should know that if the leading star of a movie doesn't get nominated for best supporting actor, it's generally not an inappropriate oversight.
Or maybe it was just an off-night, and the tsars weren't aligned properly
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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