Archive for the ‘TV and Film History’ Category

Silent Idol Spaghetti Sauce

Friday, June 8th, 2012

I recently won a drawing–something that seldom happens to me! The prize was a book I had been coveting for some time, Rudolph Valentino: The Silent Idol by Donna Hill.

Valentino was born in 1895, the same year in which the Lumière brothers first showed films to the public. He is one of the few silent-film stars who is still remembered and recognized by much of the American public. A handsome Italian who wasn’t sure what his destiny would be but was sure he HAD a destiny, he came to the United States at the age of 18 and began his career as a dancer.

His dancing skills would help establish his stardom in his breakthrough film, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). The dance scene in Four Horsemen started a national craze for the tango and is still breathtaking to watch. Valentino made several hugely successful films before dying of a perforated ulcer in 1926.

Donna Hill became a lifelong film fan when she was ten years old. She saw her first Valentino film, Blood and Sand, on her local PBS station shortly after that. She bought her first Valentino photograph in the mid-1970s when she was a teenager. She now owns hundreds of photographs of the star; she tells me that she hasn’t counted but thinks the collection numbers between 700 and 1000.

Her book, which came out in 2010, uses her collection to illustrate the life of Valentino. (Its subtitle is “His Life in Photographs.”) Other books have been written about the actor; in fact, Donna lists most of them on her Valentino website, called Falcon Lair after Valentino’s beloved house in Beverly Hills.

This one is unique in that it literally gives the reader a look at this much photographed icon, at work and at home.

Courtesy of Donna Hill

Donna Hill is my favorite kind of film scholar. She writes about film because she loves it. She will spend months following a tip that might give her just a little more information about long-lost artists and pieces of celluloid. She is currently at work on a biography of Dorothy Gish, the less well known (but in the eyes of many equally talented) sister of silent-film star Lillian Gish.

Donna has taken the nom d’internet “RudyFan.” She doesn’t let her adoration stand in the way of a little straight shooting when she talks about her idol, however. She says in the book:

Was Valentino a great actor? The answer is, under the right circumstances and with the right director, he could be. More often than not he was hampered by poor scenarios, lackluster direction, and cheap production values. But cinematic legacy is not necessarily a function of thespian craftsmanship. Rudolph Valentino was—indubitably—a star.http://tinkyweisblat.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/this-girls-notes-on-that-girl/

With Carrie Clark Ward in "The Eagle" (Courtesy of Donna Hill)

Donna’s book shows that stardom at work on the screen and in Valentino’s personal life. The photographs are stunning, and so is their subject. By the time the book gets to the actor’s untimely death at the age of 31, the reader has been drawn into Valentino’s world and mourns that death.

Naturally, as soon as I saw the book I wrote to Donna and asked for a recipe. She told me that Valentino loved seafood, having grown up in Puglia, a coastal region of Italy. “When times were lean [in his early days in Los Angeles], he went to the beach for shellfish,” she informed me. He also hunted small game to put food on the table when necessary.

His mother was French so he adored French as well as Italian food, Donna reported. And he loved preparing pasta for his friends. One special meal some of them remembered was a spicy dish of six-foot-long pasta with garlic, hot pepper, and olive oil.

Donna also sent me a version of the recipe below, which has been making the rounds of Rudy fans. She wasn’t 100 percent certain it was authentic, but its use of fish (anchovies!) as the “secret” ingredient seems right up Valentino’s alley. (They are secret because they disappear into the sauce, leaving only a hint of their haunting flavor.) Until I find six-foot-long spaghetti for the spicy sauce, this is my Rudy Recipe.

You can read more of Donna’s cinematic thoughts on her blog, Strictly Vintage Hollywood. And do consider buying her gorgeous Valentino book and/or liking it on Facebook. Meanwhile, enjoy the spaghetti sauce. Be sure to watch a Valentino movie while noshing; I suggest The Son of the Sheik (1926). I promise that you will swoon into your spaghetti……

Courtesy of Donna Hill

Rudolph Valentino’s Secret Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
1-1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (8 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (16 ounces) whole tomatoes, chopped and undrained
(Note: it’s hard to find a 16 ounces can these days; either use a slightly smaller can or measure 16 ounces out of a larger can.)
1 pound Italian sausage (I used half sweet and half hot), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 can (2 ounces) anchovies, drained
1/2 cup red wine, plus more wine if needed

Instructions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven and sauté the onion pieces and mushrooms over low heat until they soften, adding a little water if needed. Add the tomato sauce, the tomato paste, and the whole tomatoes. Continue to cook over low heat, partially covered.

In a separate skillet sauté the sausage pieces, adding the second tablespoon of oil if they start to stick. Add the garlic pieces as the sausage cooks. When the sausage has browned, scoop the pieces of sausage and garlic up and pop them into the Dutch oven. Stir in the oregano and rosemary as well.

Deglaze the skillet with the red wine, and add the wine and any pieces of sausage that are in it to the Dutch oven. Stir in half of the anchovies.

Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, partially covered, and taste. Add more anchovies as needed. (I just threw them all in.) Cook for 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and/or add a little more wine if the sauce starts to get too thick.

Serve with spaghetti and grated cheese. Serves 4.

 

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Domestic Hitchcock: Shadow of a Doubt

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Please donate!

This post takes part in the third annual film-preservation blogathon For the Love of Film, hosted by Ferdy on Films, the Self-Styled Siren, and This Island Rod.

This year’s blogathon is devoted to the work of Alfred Hitchcock. Funds raised will help the National Film Preservation Foundation stream an early film on which Hitchcock worked, The White Shadow, on the internet for several months—and record a new score for this silent film. Please click on the photo above to donate to this worthy cause. Films are perishable, and they need our help!

Now, on to MY Hitchcock contribution……

Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, and Patricia Collinge in "Shadow of a Doubt"

As a food writer I often find it difficult to write about films, particularly films like those of Hitchcock, in which action and suspense are key. The characters have little time for cooking and eating. So for this essay I turn to Hitchcock’s most domestic motion picture—some might say his ONLY domestic motion picture—Shadow of a Doubt.

Released in 1943, Shadow of a Doubt has long been one of my favorite Hitchcock films in large part because it is domestic. The house in which most of the action is set is almost a character in the story. Viewers get to know its hallways, doorways, and rooms. And many plot points are worked out at the dinner table.

Since Shadow is a Hitchcock film the domesticity it explores is dark. It is domesticity nonetheless, however, and the picture features sympathetic and complex female characters.

Indeed, the film is primarily experienced through one of those characters, Young Charlie (Teresa Wright). A recent high-school graduate who still lives with her family in an old-fashioned home in Santa Rosa, California, Charlie is restless.

She finds family life tedious and is particularly concerned with that life’s effect on her mother Emma, who seems to spend her days going from one dispiriting household task to another. Charlie senses that she and her mother are trapped. “All I’m waiting for now is a miracle,” she tells her kindly but weak father Joe (Henry Travers).

The miracle comes almost immediately in the form of a prospective visit from her mother’s brother Charlie (the handsome, velvet-voiced Joseph Cotten), after whom young Charlie was named. The namesake feels a special kinship with her uncle, a far-off glamorous figure who sends wonderful presents but rarely shows his face in Santa Rosa.

The family gathers around Uncle Charlie at the dinner table.

Charlie believes she has a psychic bond with Uncle Charlie, a bond Hitchcock famously emphasized from the start of the picture by introducing both Charlies in the same position—lying on a bed looking despondent.

Charlie is even happier when she sees the effect the news of her uncle’s imminent arrival has on her mother Emma (Patricia Collinge). Emma’s voice lifts and her face lights up as she speaks of her long-ago childhood with Uncle Charlie, the spoiled baby of her family.

Uncle Charlie’s arrival is all that Young Charlie and Emma have hoped for. He brings laughter to the house and showers his relatives with gifts. Almost immediately, however, Charlie begins to wonder about her uncle. He has isolated moments of scary violence. He is trying to hide something. And the gorgeous emerald ring he gives her is inscribed with the initials of a dead woman.

Young Charlie begins to feel uncomfortable with Uncle Charlie. Papa Joe looks on at right.

Hitchcock brought in Thornton Wilder to work on the screenplay for Shadow. The film was shot on location in Santa Rosa, an attractive, medium-sized town, and the director believed that the playwright of Our Town could add a certain authenticity to this story of America’s heartland.

He did—as did the brilliant cast. Shadow of a Doubt both celebrates and critiques small-town life—and middle-class American life in general.

Like Uncle Charlie, the town of Santa Rosa is beautiful yet contains dark corners.

Like Uncle Charlie, Young Charlie and her mother Emma love the idea of home but long for something more stimulating and ultimately more dangerous.

At the end of the film Young Charlie’s future appears almost as bleak as it does at the beginning. She has survived attempts on her life. Yet she appears doomed to marry the stolid MacDonald Carey and recreate her mother’s humdrum housewifery.

As for Uncle Charlie, he feels forced by fate/fear/insanity to try to kill Young Charlie, whom he really does love.

Perhaps the saddest of the three is Emma. Young Charlie’s mother is devastated when she learns near the end of the picture that her brother plans to leave Santa Rosa, although she is fortunately unaware that he is leaving because he will be arrested or killed if he stays.

“But I can’t bear it if you go, Charles,” she says in near despair. She adds to her guests but most of all to herself, “We were so close growing up, and then Charles went away, and I got married, and you know how it is. You sort of forget you’re you. You’re your husband’s wife……”

Her tearful speech underlines the film’s unsettling portrait of domesticity. Domestic life, Hitchcock and Thornton Wilder tell us, is full of longings, regrets, and even danger. (Young Charlie barely survives two attempts on her life that use the house and its contents as weapons.)

And yet, as Young Charlie learns, Americans in the 1940s, particularly American women, don’t have a lot of other options.

The little cow sprinkles are meant to evoke black-and-white film--and to hide my icing errors!

Emma’s Butterscotch Pound Cake with Maple Icing

Emma and Charlie prepare several meals in Shadow of a Doubt. The food to which the most detail is devoted is a cake Emma demonstrates making for two men who pretend to be conducting a survey about typical American families. They are in reality detectives hard on the trail of Uncle Charlie, whom they suspect of being a serial killer.

She informs the pair that this maple cake is a favorite of her brother Charles. Viewers don’t get to see the entire baking process, but Emma makes it clear that the instructions include creaming butter and sugar and then adding eggs.

I hope her cake would have tasted something like this dense, rich pound cake with a maple topping. It’s enough to make almost anyone—maybe even Hitchcock—feel more positive about domesticity.

Ingredients:

for the cake:

1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour

for the icing:

1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
confectioner’s sugar as needed

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

In a mixer cream the butter. Add the brown sugar, and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Beat in the baking powder and salt.

On a low speed, blend in the flour until it is incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto the rack and let it cool completely before making your icing.

Whip the butter for the icing until fluffy; then beat in the maple syrup and sugar. You will need enough sugar to make the icing spreadable but not enough to make it too sweet; start with 1 cup and then add a little at a time as needed.

Serves 8 to 10.

Emma gets ready to bake her cake.

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“Seinfeld” and the Soup Nazi

Friday, April 6th, 2012

If I had to pick one series to represent American network television in the 1990s, it would probably be Seinfeld.

I personally only watched two episodes of this comedy program during its network run. Nevertheless, I was aware from dinner-table conversations in communities with populations that ranged from the hundreds to the millions that the show revolved in quasi-autobiographical fashion around the stand-up comedy of an upper-west-side New Yorker, Jerry Seinfeld, and his onscreen friends: explosive ex-girlfriend Elaine, neurotic best friend George, and so-weird-he-might-have-been-from-Mars neighbor Kramer.

The program debuted slowly, starting with the pilot’s airing as filler in the summer of 1989. It grew in time to enchant critics and then millions of viewers before it went off the air with great brouhaha in 1998.

In Seinfeld: The Totally Unauthorized Tribute (not that there’s anything wrong with that), David Wild of Rolling Stone enthuses, “’Seinfeld’ is one of those rare redeemers of popular culture; like Sinatra, pasta or the Beatles, ‘Seinfeld’ shows that sometimes the masses get things exactly right.”

Episodes became instant classics among baby boomers, rapidly gaining the sort of status previously enjoyed only by favorite segments of I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners.

I heard immediately after they aired, for example, about the controversial subject matter of “The Contest” (an episode, for anyone who missed the discussion, in which the principal characters compete to discover who can refrain the longest from masturbation) and the biting culinary humor of “The Soup Nazi.”

Naturally, the latter, which aired in November 1995, speaks to me. Like many episodes of Seinfeld, “The Soup Nazi” contradicts the popular conception that nothing happens in this series. In fact, Seinfeld is very much of its era in that it often features multiple, intersecting plots.

In this episode, one subplot revolves around the Nazi of the title and his soup emporium. Another involves George’s attempts to persuade Jerry to desist from displays of affection with his latest girlfriend. The last features the efforts of Elaine to acquire an armoire for her apartment.

Perhaps the program’s “nothing” reputation stems from the fact that plot in Seinfeld is less important than the absurd conversations of its characters. Perhaps it stems from this situation comedy’s tendency, inherited from the stand-up comedy form of its star, to jump from one plot point to another in non-sequitur fashion, making the trajectory of the plot(s) hard to trace. In any case, the narrative soup here is quite deliciously thick.

The main plot of “The Soup Nazi” features the efforts of the program’s principal characters to place successful orders with the fierce owner of a small take-out establishment that sells ambrosial soup. Jerry tells George and Elaine, “You can’t eat this soup standing up. Your knees buckle.”

Unfortunately, he warns them, the highly temperamental chef, “secretly referred to as ‘the Soup Nazi,’” does not allow customers to deviate from his strict ordering procedure.

As most fans know, the character of the Soup Nazi was based on a real New York chef notorious for his delectable soup but less than delectable kettle-side manner.

As it does in the program, the line of potential customers regularly extends around the block from Al Yeganeh’s soup store. In fact, my sister-in-law lived two blocks from this establishment, the Soup Kitchen International, for years and never tried Yeganeh’s soup because she never had time to wait in the line!

Yeganeh apparently detested the Seinfeld tribute (if that’s the right word) to his reputation.

He told People in 1998, “The show really destroyed my personal life and my emotional and physical well-being. Because of this TV show, customers think I’m going to kill them and they panic. But the line must be kept moving!”

Typically, the “Soup Nazi” episode uses Yeganeh’s alter-ego more to shed light on the personalities of the regular cast members than to make any statement about the vagaries of New York restaurateurs.

Jerry, the only character with a successful career, masters the tense ritual of ordering from the Soup Nazi quickly and emerges victorious from the store with a bowl of crab bisque.

George is less fortunate. His bleating requests for bread to accompany his soup force the Nazi first to raise the price of George’s lunch and then to utter the dreaded words “No soup for you.”

Elaine, ever the free spirit, appears to view the establishment’s stringent rules as a challenge. She dawdles over her order so obnoxiously that the Soup Nazi banishes her from his kitchen for a full year—and I for one don’t blame him.

Interestingly, Kramer, who generally seems to operate on a different plane from the other characters, is the only person in the group to whom the Soup Nazi warms up—mostly because Kramer is just weird enough to understand the Nazi’s attitude toward the ordering process.

He views the chef’s desire for “perfection” in his customers as a natural extension of his quest for perfection in his cooking. “You suffer for your soup,” Kramer says sympathetically. Clearly, Kramer’s heart as well as his taste buds will suffer at the episode’s end, when the Soup Nazi announces that in light of Elaine’s threats to reveal his recipes to the world he plans to decamp for Argentina.

Over the course of the episode, the viewer is introduced to a number of soups on the Nazi’s menu, including turkey chili, jambalaya, gazpacho, cold cucumber, corn and crab chowder, and wild mushroom. I have chosen to make mulligatawny, the favorite flavor of Kramer, who calls the Soup Nazi “one of the great artisans of the modern era.”

Soup Nazi Mulligatawny

Make sure your spices are fresh and pungent for this soup. I recommend curry powder and cumin seeds from Kalustyan’s (or Foods of India in New York, two stores at which the Soup Nazi might well have shopped.

If you want a vegetarian mulligatawny, feel free to omit the chicken and to substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. You’ll still have a lovely, warming concoction.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, cut in small pieces
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, mashed in a mortar and pestle just enough to release flavors
1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder (or more you love curry)
1 cup lentils, washed and drained
6 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tomato, cut up
1-1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
cooked rice to taste (optional)
cream to taste (optional)
fresh, chopped coriander (optional)

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large soup pot, and sauté the onion, garlic, and carrot until the onion turns a light golden color. Stir in the cumin and curry powder and heat for a minute as a paste, adding a bit of the chicken stock if it threatens to dry out completely. Quickly stir in the lentils; then add the stock, salt, lemon juice, and tomato.

Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer covered for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken, and simmer for another half hour partly covered, stirring frequently.

Cool the mixture for at least a half hour, and then puree it in batches in a blender or food processor. Refrigerate the soup for several hours (overnight if possible) to let the flavors meld. Then heat the mixture in a large saucepan until warm, stirring constantly to keep the thick soup from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Your soup may be served plain or with cooked rice. Some people prefer to add a bit of cream to their bowls, and many like a hint of coriander sprinkled over each bowl just before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Larry Thomas, who portrayed the Soup Nazi, still sells personally signed "No Soup for You" photos on eBay.

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Oscar Banquets

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Oscar night looms. Commentators are dusting off their pre-show red-carpet patter, craftsmen are fashioning gold-plated statuettes, Price Waterhouse officials are counting ballots in secret sessions, and Hollywood is preparing to dazzle its colleagues and the general public with its annual orgy of self-congratulation.

Today Wolfgang Puck and his minions are working on the food for the Governor’s Ball. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, this year’s menu will feature my favorite edible for ANY occasion—lots and lots of finger food, served buffet style. I would LOVE to taste Puck’s lobster tacos, not to mention the gold-dusted chocolate Oscars now being fashioned.

The first Academy-Awards banquet was less elaborate than the one planned for tomorrow evening. Held in Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel in May of 1929, it fed about 270 people instead of the 1500-odd nominees, presenters, and guests expected this year.

The overall ambiance, according to later recollections, was one of a small community celebration. First best-actress winner Janet Gaynor said decades after the fact, “It was just a small group getting together for a pat on the back…. Hollywood was just one big family then, and [the award] was a bouquet—thrown to me, I think, because I was new and because they thought I had certain freshness. It was nothing then like it is now.”

Janet Gaynor in "Sunrise," one of the three films for which she won the best-actress trophy in 1929.

The food was less sophisticated than that being planned for this year. Hollywood and the American public were a little simpler then. I think it sounds pretty tasty, however.

According to the official Awards Librarian at the Academy, the menu consisted of:

Assorted Nibbles (rolls, olives, etc.)
Consommé Celestine
Fillet of Sole Sauté au Beurre
Half-Broiled Chicken on Toast
(The librarian noted that she hoped this meant “broiled half-chicken” rather than underdone poultry.)
New String Beans
Long-Branch Potatoes
Lettuce and Tomatoes with French Dressing
Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream
Cakes
Demitasse

Nostalgia is always on the menu at the Academy Awards, so I am supplying a version of one of the dishes consumed in 1929. Happy viewing … and eating. Enjoy Billy Crystal’s return!

Billy Crystal and Friend. Courtesy of AMPAS. Photo credit : Bob D'Amico/ABC

Original Oscar Night Fillet of Sole

I love sole—and so, apparently, did diners in Hollywood in 1929. This is my favorite way to pan fry this fish in butter. If you want to make the fillets look more beautiful, dredge them in flour before cooking them.

I haven’t made this recipe lately so I don’t have a photo to share with you. But I do remember that it was delicious.

Ingredients:

1 small juice glass almost filled with sprigs of parsley
about 1/4 cup clarified butter
1-1/2 pounds sole fillets
salt and white pepper to taste
the juice of 1/2 large lemon

Instructions:

With kitchen scissors cut the parsley into small pieces in the glass. In a large frying pan, melt about half of the butter over medium heat. Put in a few sole fillets; they should not touch each other.

Fry the fillets gently for a minute or two on each side, until they become flaky, adding salt and pepper as you cook. As each fillet is done, place it on a platter in a 250-degree oven so that it stays warm until its relatives have finished cooking. Add butter to the pan as needed for sautéing.

When the fillets are all cooked and on the platter, throw the parsley and lemon juice into the frying pan, and stir to allow them to mingle with the pan drippings. Ladle the parsley-lemon-butter mixture onto the fish fillets, and serve.

Serves 4.

This postcard of the Roosevelt Hotel, currently for sale on ebay, was postmarked in 1929.

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For the Love of Film (Noir): On the Road to Key Largo

Friday, February 18th, 2011

 
This post contributes to the rich film-noir blogathon currently hosted by Ferdy on Films and the Self-Styled Siren. 

Funds donated by clicking on the image below will go to the Film Noir Foundation. Donors are eligible for prizes, but the real prize is getting to help restore the 1950 film The Sound of Fury—and getting to read all the great posts the blogathon is attracting!

 
When as a child I first visited Paris with my godmother I was astonished to find that many French people were aware of the relatively obscure place in which she lived, Key Largo, Florida.
 
The reason for this familiarity was not a knowledge of U.S. geography but a knowledge of American film history. 

As early fans of classic directors like John Huston and as countrymen of the critics who invented the term “film noir,” the French knew and loved Huston’s 1948 noir gangster movie set on, partly shot on, and named after my godmother’s home Key.

 
Key Largo always merits a visit. It grips today’s viewers yet remains a true product of its time.
 
A melodrama of postwar malaise, the film takes place in and around the Largo Hotel, a resort owned by James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) and his widowed daughter-in-law Nora (Lauren Bacall).
 
Humphrey Bogart plays Frank McCloud, a footloose former soldier who steps off a bus on Route 1 and becomes involved against his will in the hotelkeepers’ conflict with underworld kingpin Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) and his henchmen.
 
In the course of an hour and 41 minutes, the disillusioned McCloud learns to commit himself to the cause of right—and to the cause of Nora Temple. He also braves a hurricane that changes everyone’s plans.
 
The movie is a goldmine for social historians. It can be viewed as a metaphor for Americans on the brink of the Cold War, learning like McCloud to become involved in a new fight. 

The hero’s decision at the film’s finish to end his rootless existence and settle down with the Temples also mirrors our culture’s postwar emphasis on the importance of home as haven.

 
Key Largo is more than just a story for its time, however. It is a lush, well paced picture with glorious black-and-white photography by Karl Freund.
 
It is also a primer in American film acting, featuring a range of diverse yet complementary styles.
 
On one end of its spectrum are the minimalist Bogart and Bacall, whose faces and voices come across as almost expressionless. 

Only a couple of gestures and a few mutual looks indicate that Frank and Nora have fallen in love in the course of the film, but those gestures and looks are so well choreographed that they speak volumes.

 
In contrast, Robinson delivers a powerful, cigar-chomping personification of evil, filling the screen with his body and voice.
 
Claire Trevor joins him in the ham portion of the thespian spectrum with a magnificently campy performance as his character’s alcoholic, over-the-hill moll. The role earned her an Academy Award. 

When she takes center stage to reprise her old nightclub routine in a creaky voice, Trevor’s character provides the film’s most moving moment.

 
Every time I think about Key Largo the film I long to visit Key Largo the place. I dream of flying down to Miami, then traveling—like Bogey’s character—on a Greyhound bus along Route 1.
 
I don’t exactly have the time or the funds to take this trip, however, so I settle for recreating my favorite tropical spot at home.
 
Since I’ll never look like Bacall or Claire Trevor my costume is a simple lei. Nevertheless, I do work hard to make food that features the Keys’ signature food, key-lime juice. And of course I watch Key Largo.
 
If you’d like to have your own Key Largo party, don’t make do with the juice of ordinary limes; it hasn’t got the subtle, rich flavor of the key lime.
 
Many supermarkets carry Nellie & Joe’s key-lime juice. You may also order juice by mail from Floribbean; this company also sells such goodies as key-lime salsa, jelly, and savory oil.
 
Or call my favorite key-lime store, the Key Lime Tree.
 
This emporium, located (where else?) on Key Largo not far from my godmother’s home, offers a plethora of key-lime products, from beverages to fudge to fabulous soap, plus OF COURSE key-lime juice. 

Last time I checked in, its owners would even ship out a small key-lime tree to help you add some scenery to your Key Largo bash.

 
Settle yourself under the tree’s thorny branches; sip a key-lime beverage; and prepare to spend an evening with Bogart, Bacall, and company.
 
I have already featured several key-lime recipes on this blog. These include key-lime chicken; tropical fruit salsa; key lime-white chocolate chip cookies; and everybody’s favorite, key-lime pie.
 
I thought readers might like a cocktail to accompany a viewing of Key Largo, however. What could be more appropriate for this stormy film than a hurricane?
 
This tropical drink packs quite a wallop. Claire Trevor’s Gaye Dawn (a PERFECT Florida Keys name!), who drinks her way through the movie, would appreciate it, although she doesn’t at all appreciate the natural disaster from which it derives its name. 

If you cannot find passion-fruit syrup in your local grocery or liquor store, it may be found online at Amazon and other sites. Some bartenders take a shortcut and substitute 1/2 cup of Hawaiian Punch. This doesn’t strike me as appropriate for a celebration of film noir, however.

 
Key Largo Hurricane
 
Ingredients:
 
1 ounce light rum
1 ounce dark rum
1 tablespoon passion-fruit syrup
1 tablespoon key-lime juice (more or less to taste)
 
Instructions: 

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Serves 1.


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