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You have nothng to worry about

Sunday, April 16th, 2023 Alive 18,982 days

I donʼt think I could ever date a movie starlet. Movie stars are people who make their living pretending to be things they are not. How could you ever really trust someone who is a professional liar?

Not that I was ever in danger of being wooed by an actress. Still, lying seems endemic to the entire social, moral, and monetary economy of Hollywood. Take, for instance, this movie poster for the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon.

The Maltese Falcon movie poster

It features a pair of disembodied Bogart hands, each paw with a pistol, furiously filling imaginary bad guys with lead. The testosterone-tantalizing tag line reads, “A story as explosive as his blazing automatics!”

Except, that at no time in the movie does Bogart shoot any bad guys. The closest he gets to violence is backhanding a dandy half his size. His character even makes a point of it in the movie:

Cop: What kind of a gun do you carry?

Bogart: None. I donʼt like ʼem. Of course, there are some at the office.

Cop: You donʼt happen to have one here?

Bogart: Shakes head “no”

So why did the movie studio so conspicuously add non-existent gun battles to this movie? After viewing many dozens of 1940ʼs and 1950ʼs movies and their associated posters, my inexpert opinion is that it was to get men to agree to take their female companions to see the pictures.

Bogartʼs lady fans were more than ready to consume whatever tale he told on celluloid, no matter what the actual story. But getting the men to go along required a little extra push. You can also see this in the titles and artwork of other films of the era that use cheesecake imagery and vaguely-naughty titles that have little to do with the actual content of the films.

Itʼs for this reason that when presented with an old movie, itʼs important not to judge the film by its poster. The two may be only distantly related.

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