Discussion:
Background To Danger
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Cicero
2006-07-31 10:27:38 UTC
Permalink
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.

A nightmare really.
Dave in Toronto
2006-07-31 11:39:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Don't think I ever saw "Background to Danger" but I did read Eric
Ambler's novel -Have to agree with you about Raft, most of the time he
just seemed to be going through the motions. There were a few I liked
for one reason or another though in "Johnny Angel" he comes close to
acting and it's a pretty nifty mystery with a New Orleans background. I
loved the opening where an apparently deserted ship looms out of the
mist - shades of the "Mary Celeste".

"Nocturne" with Lynn Bari is one I would like to see again. Raft is a
cop investigation the death of a womanizing composer.

"Outpost in Morrocco" is fun in a campy sort of way. I like the way his
leading lady, Marie Windsor seems to change height during the movie,
sometimes she is taller him and sometimes not.

.....and of course he parodied himself nicely in "Some Like it Hot".

Dave in Toronto
No Man
2006-07-31 16:25:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave in Toronto
-Have to agree with you about Raft, most of the time he
just seemed to be going through the motions.
Which director said of him and his flipping coin signature: "He
couldn't act for spit but if you give him something to do he was all right"?

He was in my experience a breakthrough actor, though. There was a noir
scene of a title unremembered in which a lady took off her jacket
revealing a tight sweater and while she stowed her wrap Raft was looking
just where I was. I saw it in my peripheral vision because he was so
obvious about it. Most of the movies I saw featured apparently gay
actors who didn't seem to notice.
--
"No Man has blinded me!"
Polyphemus, Son of Neptune
l***@my-deja.com
2006-07-31 15:36:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Raft's very good as a trucker (Bogart plays his brother/sidekick) in
THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), also directed by Raoul Walsh. But
BACKGROUND was kind of a misfire by any reckoning. International
espionage was simply not Raft's forte. Gritty downscale urban crime
stories were better suited to Raft. He wasn't larger than life like
Cagney, so he was better suited to smaller-scale roles/milieus. He gave
good support to Cagney as a fellow inmate in EACH DAWN I DIE (1939). I
like the RKO stuff Raft did in the mid-to-late '40s like some of those
mentioned above (NOCTURNE, JOHNNY ANGEL) and RACE STREET plus some
others I forget. Small-scale, but solid crime stuff. Check out A BULLET
FOR JOEY (1955) in which he's paired with Edward G. Robinson. Not a
good movie, but a fascinating one for these two way past their big
studio LITTLE CAESAR/SCARFACE prime.

Oh and check out Raft and Paul Muni in the original SCARFACE (1932) if
you haven't seen it already.
Dave in Toronto
2006-07-31 16:37:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by l***@my-deja.com
Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Raft's very good as a trucker (Bogart plays his brother/sidekick) in
THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), also directed by Raoul Walsh. But
BACKGROUND was kind of a misfire by any reckoning. International
espionage was simply not Raft's forte. Gritty downscale urban crime
stories were better suited to Raft. He wasn't larger than life like
Cagney, so he was better suited to smaller-scale roles/milieus. He gave
good support to Cagney as a fellow inmate in EACH DAWN I DIE (1939). I
like the RKO stuff Raft did in the mid-to-late '40s like some of those
mentioned above (NOCTURNE, JOHNNY ANGEL) and RACE STREET plus some
others I forget. Small-scale, but solid crime stuff. Check out A BULLET
FOR JOEY (1955) in which he's paired with Edward G. Robinson. Not a
good movie, but a fascinating one for these two way past their big
studio LITTLE CAESAR/SCARFACE prime.
Oh and check out Raft and Paul Muni in the original SCARFACE (1932) if
you haven't seen it already.
I'd forgotten "Each Dawn I Die". Yes, he was pretty good in that.
Another couple that come to mind are "Whistle Stop" which I remember as
not being very good but a few shots of Ava Gardner in a
semi-transparent negligee made it worth while. There was also "Nob
Hill" where he perfectly cast as a nightclub owner with aspirations to
become one of San Francisco's elite.

One I would dearly like to see "Limehouse Blues" where he plays a half
chinese character.

Dave in Toronto
Jim Beaver
2006-07-31 17:21:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave in Toronto
Post by l***@my-deja.com
Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Raft's very good as a trucker (Bogart plays his brother/sidekick) in
THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), also directed by Raoul Walsh. But
BACKGROUND was kind of a misfire by any reckoning. International
espionage was simply not Raft's forte. Gritty downscale urban crime
stories were better suited to Raft. He wasn't larger than life like
Cagney, so he was better suited to smaller-scale roles/milieus. He gave
good support to Cagney as a fellow inmate in EACH DAWN I DIE (1939). I
like the RKO stuff Raft did in the mid-to-late '40s like some of those
mentioned above (NOCTURNE, JOHNNY ANGEL) and RACE STREET plus some
others I forget. Small-scale, but solid crime stuff. Check out A BULLET
FOR JOEY (1955) in which he's paired with Edward G. Robinson. Not a
good movie, but a fascinating one for these two way past their big
studio LITTLE CAESAR/SCARFACE prime.
Oh and check out Raft and Paul Muni in the original SCARFACE (1932) if
you haven't seen it already.
I'd forgotten "Each Dawn I Die". Yes, he was pretty good in that.
Another couple that come to mind are "Whistle Stop" which I remember as
not being very good but a few shots of Ava Gardner in a
semi-transparent negligee made it worth while. There was also "Nob
Hill" where he perfectly cast as a nightclub owner with aspirations to
become one of San Francisco's elite.
One I would dearly like to see "Limehouse Blues" where he plays a half
chinese character.
The best Raft performance of all, I think, (and I believe him to be an
extremely limited actor, though I nonetheless enjoy watching his movies) is
in the Paramount picture SOULS AT SEA. He and Gary Cooper are sailors on a
19th century sailing ship, and Raft has a final scene that is touching and
memorable. I'd love to see that one again.

I wrote an article on Raft years ago for Films in Review, and I began it
with a favorite quote from George Burns: "George Raft and Gary Cooper once
played a scene together in front of a cigar store and it looked like the
wooden Indian was overacting."

Jim Beaver
Dave in Toronto
2006-07-31 21:21:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Beaver
Post by Dave in Toronto
Post by l***@my-deja.com
Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Raft's very good as a trucker (Bogart plays his brother/sidekick) in
THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), also directed by Raoul Walsh. But
BACKGROUND was kind of a misfire by any reckoning. International
espionage was simply not Raft's forte. Gritty downscale urban crime
stories were better suited to Raft. He wasn't larger than life like
Cagney, so he was better suited to smaller-scale roles/milieus. He gave
good support to Cagney as a fellow inmate in EACH DAWN I DIE (1939). I
like the RKO stuff Raft did in the mid-to-late '40s like some of those
mentioned above (NOCTURNE, JOHNNY ANGEL) and RACE STREET plus some
others I forget. Small-scale, but solid crime stuff. Check out A BULLET
FOR JOEY (1955) in which he's paired with Edward G. Robinson. Not a
good movie, but a fascinating one for these two way past their big
studio LITTLE CAESAR/SCARFACE prime.
Oh and check out Raft and Paul Muni in the original SCARFACE (1932) if
you haven't seen it already.
I'd forgotten "Each Dawn I Die". Yes, he was pretty good in that.
Another couple that come to mind are "Whistle Stop" which I remember as
not being very good but a few shots of Ava Gardner in a
semi-transparent negligee made it worth while. There was also "Nob
Hill" where he perfectly cast as a nightclub owner with aspirations to
become one of San Francisco's elite.
One I would dearly like to see "Limehouse Blues" where he plays a half
chinese character.
The best Raft performance of all, I think, (and I believe him to be an
extremely limited actor, though I nonetheless enjoy watching his movies) is
in the Paramount picture SOULS AT SEA. He and Gary Cooper are sailors on a
19th century sailing ship, and Raft has a final scene that is touching and
memorable. I'd love to see that one again.
I wrote an article on Raft years ago for Films in Review, and I began it
with a favorite quote from George Burns: "George Raft and Gary Cooper once
played a scene together in front of a cigar store and it looked like the
wooden Indian was overacting."
Jim Beaver
What was Raft's ethnic background? His birth name is given as George
Ranft.

Raft spent some time in Britain after his retirement. I saw him on TV
being interviewed there once - He said one thing that suprised me, he
said that he had never had a drink in his life - I believe he was
considering a position with a gambling casino in London but after
returning from a trip to the States the British authorities refused him
admission saying he wasn't welcome anymore because of his Mafia
connections.

Dave in Toronto
Jim Beaver
2006-07-31 22:12:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave in Toronto
What was Raft's ethnic background? His birth name is given as George
Ranft.
German. Ranft is not an uncommon German name. Wikipedia gives his father
as German, his mother as Italian-American, but this seems in error. His
mother's maiden name was Glockner, and she was born in Germany, according to
the 1900 and 1910 census. However, the census records create a new mystery:
Raft's birthdate. His death record and virtually all studio and other
records seem to indicate that he was born September 26, 1895. However, he
is not listed with his family (or anywhere else) in the 1900 census, the
1910 census gives a birth year of approximately 1902, and his 1918 draft
registration card gives a birthdate of July 1, 1900. Mystery aplenty here.

Jim Beaver
Cicero
2006-08-01 09:21:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by l***@my-deja.com
Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Raft's very good as a trucker (Bogart plays his brother/sidekick) in
THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), also directed by Raoul Walsh. But
BACKGROUND was kind of a misfire by any reckoning. International
espionage was simply not Raft's forte. Gritty downscale urban crime
stories were better suited to Raft. He wasn't larger than life like
Cagney, so he was better suited to smaller-scale roles/milieus. He gave
good support to Cagney as a fellow inmate in EACH DAWN I DIE (1939). I
like the RKO stuff Raft did in the mid-to-late '40s like some of those
mentioned above (NOCTURNE, JOHNNY ANGEL) and RACE STREET plus some
others I forget. Small-scale, but solid crime stuff. Check out A BULLET
FOR JOEY (1955) in which he's paired with Edward G. Robinson. Not a
good movie, but a fascinating one for these two way past their big
studio LITTLE CAESAR/SCARFACE prime.
I saw Johnny Angel many years ago, and the thing that struck me (unless I am
confusing it) is that Raft never seemed to change his clothing. Always the
same outfit.
Dave in Toronto
2006-08-01 11:07:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by Cicero
Post by l***@my-deja.com
Post by Cicero
Yet another movie trying to capitalise on Casablanca. I don't get how George
Raft can ever be considered to have been a legitimate possibility for the
roles that Bogart did- Raft never strikes me as being anything more than a
journeyman. In this film even Greenstreet is not impressive.
A nightmare really.
Raft's very good as a trucker (Bogart plays his brother/sidekick) in
THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), also directed by Raoul Walsh. But
BACKGROUND was kind of a misfire by any reckoning. International
espionage was simply not Raft's forte. Gritty downscale urban crime
stories were better suited to Raft. He wasn't larger than life like
Cagney, so he was better suited to smaller-scale roles/milieus. He gave
good support to Cagney as a fellow inmate in EACH DAWN I DIE (1939). I
like the RKO stuff Raft did in the mid-to-late '40s like some of those
mentioned above (NOCTURNE, JOHNNY ANGEL) and RACE STREET plus some
others I forget. Small-scale, but solid crime stuff. Check out A BULLET
FOR JOEY (1955) in which he's paired with Edward G. Robinson. Not a
good movie, but a fascinating one for these two way past their big
studio LITTLE CAESAR/SCARFACE prime.
I saw Johnny Angel many years ago, and the thing that struck me (unless I am
confusing it) is that Raft never seemed to change his clothing. Always the
same outfit.
Can't say I noticed that but it wouldn't surprise me - I wonder has
anyone seen a shot of Raft with his shirt off - It was rumored that he
wore a corset.

Dave in Toronto
Frank R.A.J. Maloney
2006-08-01 17:03:58 UTC
Permalink
[deletions]
Post by Dave in Toronto
Post by Cicero
I saw Johnny Angel many years ago, and the thing that struck me
(unless I am confusing it) is that Raft never seemed to change his
clothing. Always the same outfit.
Can't say I noticed that but it wouldn't surprise me - I wonder has
anyone seen a shot of Raft with his shirt off - It was rumored that he
wore a corset.
You need to watch _Night After Night_ (1932), the George Raft-Constance
Cummings movie that launched Mae West's film career. Raft spends an amazing
amount of time in various states of dishabille. Clearly, he was considered
quite the stud muffin in those days and the film went out of its way to give
his fans a gander.

But of course the *real* reason to watch this film is Mae and especially Mae
*with* Alison Skipworth. The scene where they wake up together after a night
of revelry and Mae offers Alison a job is absolutely priceless comedy.
--
Frank in Seattle
____

Frank Richard Aloysius Jude Maloney
"Millennium hand and shrimp."
mack
2006-08-01 17:13:31 UTC
Permalink
Raft was at least adequate in SPAWN OF THE NORTH 1938. I guess there were
some Raft fans, but I'd never walk across the street just to see a George
Raft film. He always seemed to be turning up in the films Bogart turned
down.
Frank R.A.J. Maloney
2006-08-01 17:22:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by mack
Raft was at least adequate in SPAWN OF THE NORTH 1938. I guess
there were some Raft fans, but I'd never walk across the street just
to see a George Raft film. He always seemed to be turning up in the
films Bogart turned down.
I had the impression that the casting process was the other way around, viz.
Bogey got roles that Raft turned down. Not a terribly smart man, George
Raft, I get the feeling.
--
Frank in Seattle
____

Frank Richard Aloysius Jude Maloney
"Millennium hand and shrimp."
Dave in Toronto
2006-08-01 18:04:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Frank R.A.J. Maloney
Post by mack
Raft was at least adequate in SPAWN OF THE NORTH 1938. I guess
there were some Raft fans, but I'd never walk across the street just
to see a George Raft film. He always seemed to be turning up in the
films Bogart turned down.
I had the impression that the casting process was the other way around, viz.
Bogey got roles that Raft turned down. Not a terribly smart man, George
Raft, I get the feeling.
--
Frank in Seattle
____
Right, according to imdb - "He turned down High Sierra (1941), The
Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942) and Double Indemnity (1944)"

Dave in Toronto.
Jim Beaver
2006-08-01 23:01:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Frank R.A.J. Maloney
Post by mack
Raft was at least adequate in SPAWN OF THE NORTH 1938. I guess
there were some Raft fans, but I'd never walk across the street just
to see a George Raft film. He always seemed to be turning up in the
films Bogart turned down.
I had the impression that the casting process was the other way around,
viz. Bogey got roles that Raft turned down. Not a terribly smart man,
George Raft, I get the feeling.
There's even a story that he wanted out of his Warners contract and Jack
Warner agreed, offering a settlement of $100,000 (or whatever). Raft, so
the story goes, proceeded to write Warner Bros. a check for $100,000.
Sounds fishy, but it's told, I'm sure, to be illustrative of Raft's level of
acumen.

Jim Beaver
Dave in Toronto
2006-08-02 03:26:09 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Beaver
Post by Frank R.A.J. Maloney
Post by mack
Raft was at least adequate in SPAWN OF THE NORTH 1938. I guess
there were some Raft fans, but I'd never walk across the street just
to see a George Raft film. He always seemed to be turning up in the
films Bogart turned down.
I had the impression that the casting process was the other way around,
viz. Bogey got roles that Raft turned down. Not a terribly smart man,
George Raft, I get the feeling.
There's even a story that he wanted out of his Warners contract and Jack
Warner agreed, offering a settlement of $100,000 (or whatever). Raft, so
the story goes, proceeded to write Warner Bros. a check for $100,000.
Sounds fishy, but it's told, I'm sure, to be illustrative of Raft's level of
acumen.
Jim Beaver
That's funny. (Sounds like the sort of thing I would do).

Dave in Toronto
Dave in Toronto
2006-08-02 04:27:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dave in Toronto
Post by Jim Beaver
Post by Frank R.A.J. Maloney
Post by mack
Raft was at least adequate in SPAWN OF THE NORTH 1938. I guess
there were some Raft fans, but I'd never walk across the street just
to see a George Raft film. He always seemed to be turning up in the
films Bogart turned down.
I had the impression that the casting process was the other way around,
viz. Bogey got roles that Raft turned down. Not a terribly smart man,
George Raft, I get the feeling.
There's even a story that he wanted out of his Warners contract and Jack
Warner agreed, offering a settlement of $100,000 (or whatever). Raft, so
the story goes, proceeded to write Warner Bros. a check for $100,000.
Sounds fishy, but it's told, I'm sure, to be illustrative of Raft's level of
acumen.
Jim Beaver
That's funny. (Sounds like the sort of thing I would do).
Dave in Toronto
Just remembered a story about Raymond Chandler told in Maurice
Zolotow's book "Billy Wilder in Hollywood".

After James Cain had told them that he was too busy to work on the
movie version of "Double Indemnity" Wilder and a Paramount executive,
Joe Sistrom, were looking for another writer. Sistrom had just read
"The Big Sleep" so he suggested that they contact Chandler. They had a
meeting and Chandler agreed to write the screenplay but he had decided
to play tough with these Hollywood types so he said "As for salary. I
must have at least $150 dollars a week". Sistrom looked at him and said
"Mr Chandler, we propose to pay you $750 a week."

Dave in Toronto
Howard Brazee
2006-08-02 21:49:40 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 01 Aug 2006 23:01:54 GMT, "Jim Beaver"
Post by Jim Beaver
There's even a story that he wanted out of his Warners contract and Jack
Warner agreed, offering a settlement of $100,000 (or whatever). Raft, so
the story goes, proceeded to write Warner Bros. a check for $100,000.
Sounds fishy, but it's told, I'm sure, to be illustrative of Raft's level of
acumen.
Whereas Katherine Hepburn bought off her contracts with much better
results (for her).
Frank R.A.J. Maloney
2006-08-02 22:28:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Howard Brazee
On Tue, 01 Aug 2006 23:01:54 GMT, "Jim Beaver"
Post by Jim Beaver
There's even a story that he wanted out of his Warners contract and
Jack Warner agreed, offering a settlement of $100,000 (or whatever).
Raft, so the story goes, proceeded to write Warner Bros. a check for
$100,000. Sounds fishy, but it's told, I'm sure, to be illustrative
of Raft's level of acumen.
Whereas Katherine Hepburn bought off her contracts with much better
results (for her).
And for us since we never had to see her in _Mother Carey's Chickens_, the
assignment that drove her from RKO and into becoming a free agent. The
direct result, of course, _The Philadelphia Story_.
--
Frank in Seattle
____

Frank Richard Aloysius Jude Maloney
"Millennium hand and shrimp."
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