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Black and White World: Picture Snatcher | The Bleat.

A great little film – but it has Cagney; how could it be anything less? Come for the pre-code innuendo; stay for the voice-of-Pooh ruminations on the mysterious fate of the newspaper. Go HERE

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38 Responses to Black and White World: Picture Snatcher

  1. Bob Gercak says:

    “Vass you dere, Sharlie?” was the catchphrase of Jack Pearl as Baron Munchausen.

    Per Wikipedia: “As the Baron, Pearl would tell far-fetched stories with a comic German accent. When the straight man (originally Ben Bard, but later Cliff Hall) expressed skepticism, the Baron replied with his familiar tagline and punchline: “Vass you dere, Sharlie?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Pearl

    Great movie, and great commentary, as usual.

  2. Petronius says:

    Wash You dere, Charlie, was, I believe the catchphrase from an early radio comedy based on the Baron Von Munchausen stories. When straight man Charlie would express the unlikelyhood of the Baron’s stories, that phrase in Katzenjammer Cherman would close the show.

  3. roger h (bgbear) says:

    I remember a scene where a fireman is holed up in his apartment after killing his wife and he torched their bed (she used it to motivate the murder if you know what I mean). Cagney snatches a picture of her from the wall of the apartment for the paper.

    I always assumed this was probably based on a real life event as well.

    Bellamy always plays such a great dupe, “His Gal Friday” is one of his best as the guy who loses the dame.

  4. Patrick McClure says:

    OK, at the risk of being banned, if the charactar’s bread and butter was cathing couples in compromising positions, wouldn’t he be more of a Sn@t(h Picturer?

  5. Patrick McClure says:

    Darn inappropriate word breaks. The (h should be attached to the end of the Sn@t.

  6. Lileks says:

    You are all brilliant. Bob in particular. ;) Also Petronius. (Just catching up on my comment reading.)

  7. Mike in Cleveland says:

    Jack Pearl – Baron Munchausen
    Stock character
    High paced tempo
    Bravura performer
    Use of Standardized accent
    Straight man / stooge
    Use of the catch phrase “vas you der (there) Charlie?”

  8. Baby M says:

    “Am I gonna stink pretty!”

    My parents, who grew up in the 1930s, used to use that phrase a lot. When I finished a bath, Mom would tell me “you stink pretty.” When mom put on perfume, Dad would say it to her. It must’ve been a popular expression at around the time this film was made.

  9. Larry says:

    Baby M: “you stink pretty” could have been a personal catch phrase. My Dad would always say “too late Nay-thon” when someone attempted something after the fact. I always assumed it was just something he made up.

    After he died, one night I was watching the John Ford western, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.” John Wayne as cavalry officer, Captain Nathan Brittles, asks an Indian chief not to make war and the Indian chief tells him “too late Nay-thon. Too late.” I was totally taken by surprise and it was as if my Dad were back watching the movie with me.

  10. Tory Mitchell says:

    If you rearrange the letters in “Cagney” you get (presumably among other things) “agency.” An anagram, I believe it’s called. Just sayin’

  11. GardenStater says:

    “After a decade or two of mannered actors mouthing theatrical dialogue, Cagney must have just bounced off the screen.”

    Boy, that’s the truth–what energy he had! It’s almost a wonder he was cast at all–he was so different from what preceded him! (And much of what followed.)

  12. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – always thought a picture snatcher meant something else. saw on this talk show an old time reporter talking about how if they need a picture of someone who died in a newsworthy fashion they’d send a reporter to one of the next of kin for a picture to run in the paper. If he get one by asking he’d let himself in while they were at the funeral and grab a picture off the shelf – or whereever he could find one.

  13. ScottG says:

    Cagney: great. Today’s dishrag male leads: weak.

  14. jenifersf says:

    In that one part he sounds like he is doing a little Peter Lorre.

  15. Nancy says:

    Cagney was amazing in this. His eyes sparkled with what went unsaid. You can really tell the difference in movies before “the code”.

  16. kmelly says:

    I’ve been in love with Cagney since the age of 12…ok, I was a strange child. I am still mesmerized by his speaking cadence, flashing eyes and pure acting energy. I am particularly enamored with the Warner Bros. films of the 1930s. I love the pacing in those movies. All the scenes move the story forward and one can practically set a watch by those flicks. The first time I saw Picture Snatcher I was working as a graphic artist in a paper owned by the Gannett chain. After seeing the scenes with the hand coding and the hot lead type, I felt very fortunate. To be honest, I would prefer working at that paper compared to the one I was employed at that time…when men wore hats and they could smoke at their desks.

    Thanks to those who explained that line and reference. Always wondered about that. Isn’t it a thrill to finally understand a reference like that? As a side note, I read in Cagney’s autobiography and recall that he either knew Yiddish or was at least comfortable enough with a few phrases. Cagney grew up in turn of the century (the last one) New York City and was raised in a multi-ethnic area.

  17. Exeter says:

    TOP O’ THE WORLD, MA!!!

    I’m sorry, I have to say that whenever I see Cagney.

  18. justjack says:

    Cagney is utterly the coolest. I’ve been watching the old Warner Brothers gangster flicks with my son, who just turned 14, and he’s totally made Cagney his own. Walks around doing Cagney bits from The Public Enemy (“I ain’t so tough”) and White Heat (“aih? you want some aih?”). Yeah sure, he likes The Dark Knight and Iron Man and Tropic Thunder as much as the next 14 year old. But he also recognizes Cagney’s special nature. It’s very cool to watch these old flicks with my son and see him react with absolutely fresh eyes to what goes on on the screen.

    Warner Brothers is far and away my favorite Golden Age studio. From Michael Curtiz epic to Ronald Reagan Brass Bancroft programmer, they every one of them crackle with energy and modern-ness.

  19. Al Federber says:

    Larry — great post.

  20. Bridey says:

    I’ve read that the Production Code was in place in 1930, but it was cheerfully ignored until the middle of the decade, and movies of the early ’30s do seem to take place in a much more recognizable world, sometimes, than movies made 10 or 20 years later. The later-squeaky-clean Loretta Young appeared in “Midnight Mary” in 1933 as a gangster’s mistress — and she’s the heroine.

    But I don’t know if the code really did much harm, artistically. The “mature themes” just had to be handled, you know, maturely, and in the good movies, they were. Everybody always knew what Rick and Ilsa were doing in Paris, even without having to watch them do it.

  21. Nancy says:

    Bridey I tend to agree. I can really appreciate a smoldering look over what passes for passion these days.

  22. GardenStater says:

    Bridey: I second the emotion. So many movies are ruined because they put stuff in that everybody knows is there, but we don’t need to see. To your point, we know what Rick and Ilsa did in Paris; and even better, we can debate whether they did more of it that night in Casablanca.

    I enjoyed “An Officer and a Gentleman” but (even though Deborah Winger was hot) thought the sex scenes shouldn’t have been included. Heck, man–show them going into the hotel room, fade out, and fade back in the next morning!

    Likewise, “Princess Bride”: Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. But I loved the film until Mandy Patinkin was holding the point of his blade to Christopher Guest’s throat. Guest says I’ll give you whatever you want, etc. And Mandy says “I want my father back,” and runs him through.

    Um, not quite: Mandy says, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch.”

    WHY? The line would have worked just fine without the “SOB” part. And then I could let my kids watch it without hearing any bad words.

    I don’t like gratuitous sex or violence or language.

    Maybe that’s just me.

  23. rivlax says:

    Am glad that for the first two years of my journalism life I worked at a paper that was put out with technology they used in the ’20s. Dozens of linotype machines run by guys with cigarettes hanging from their mouths, perforated tape from the teletypes, chases, hell boxes, pigs, galley proofs, mattes and saddles. No wonder there was romance in the hot type days.

  24. justjack says:

    “even better, we can debate whether they did more of it that night in Casablanca.”

    What, you mean when Rick leans in to kiss Ilsa, and then the camera lifts up and pans out the window to the rotating phallic light tower at the airport?

    Nah, couldn’t be. [cough]

  25. Ross says:

    Larry:
    Great story. My Dad still does that: usually when told to do something or when corrected by his wife, it’ll be Chief Dan George’s wistful, “You know, I used to have power.” In years past, though, he’d be more likely to quote a John Wayne line.
    As for the gratuitous sax & violins, these days, in addition to the lure of the salacious, there seems to be a defensive/legal element to it–make sure they know Rick & Ilsa were making The Beast With Two Backs, or some dipstick with a bully pulpit & a following who mishears a line(or never even sees it) will somehow assume they were swapping outfits, or molesting llamas, or Wotan knows what.

  26. Cuneo says:

    Enjoyed the bit with Sterling Holloway. He was so distinctive in voice and appearance. I remember him in a semi regular role as a milkman in Shirley Booth’s “Hazel,” and as the mysterious tv reapairman who fixes William “Uncle Charlie” Demerest’s tv that showed his very bad future. Not was he only the voice of Pooh, he also voiced the character of the python Kaa in “The Jungle Book,” which with Sebastian Cabot, Phil Harris, George Sanders, Louis Prima, J. Pat O’Malley, and Clint Howard (who also played the role of Leon in “The Andy Griffith Show”), had one of the greatest collection of voices ever.

  27. PhiskPhan says:

    “I don’t like gratuitous sex or violence or language.” says Garden Stater, and objects to the “SOB part.” But not to running him through with a sword??? That’s OK for kids to see?

    I remember reading a fabulous books called “Madhouse on Madison St.” about a great Chicago newspaper (forget which one) in the 1920s-30s that, when it had no pictures of the victim, would photograph the dead guy’s face, paint the eyes open on the photo and run that picture. Ugh.

  28. DC Oriole says:

    According to Robert Osborne (TCM) Cagney was fluent in Yiddish.

  29. Bill Peschel says:

    PhiskPhan: I guess we understand that the kid will rarely have a sword (or that we understand the motivation behind the killing), but every kid’s gotta mouth :) . Still, you’re right, you’re right, but I still can’t help thinking that way.

    I remember the newsrooms of old simply because I was a copyboy at the Charlotte Observer in the ’70s, when they transitioned from hot type to computers. I wish I could go back to the kid assembling the first instruction notebooks and whisper, “These are going to be big some day. Buy Microsoft!”

  30. Kristin says:

    Love the header on the black and white page.

  31. GardenStater says:

    PhiskPhan: I’d rather my kids see swordplay in a movie, knowing that it’s just “pretend.” I don’t want them to see *real* naked bodies thrashing about, or hear *real* foul language.

    I wouldn’t let my kids watch a slasher movie, or even a violent gangster picture, because I think those kinds of movies are inappropriate, as well. And they’re now 15 and (almost) 13.

    Get the distinction?

  32. maryjo meyer says:

    Loved this clip…all are correct about Cagney! When I went to Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, my advisor said we should all be training to be linotype operators because they paid better than newspaper reporters. In his class we had to learn the California job case positions and run a linotype machine in the lab. We also had an exam to identify 60 type faces and sizes in 30 minutes. I thought at the time that I didn’t want to sit in front of a hot pot of lead with flames flickering up at me for any amount of money. But the Tribune Tower’s stack of plates locked in and rolling out the paper was a thrilling place to be.

  33. DaveinKC says:

    “YOU DIRTY RAT! It’s curtains for you, see! ‘Cause I got a rod here! It’s a curtain rod! See!” Hey, I remember the impressionists’ lines more than the real actors’ lines! I don’t remember who had that particular routine … it was before Frank Gorshen, I know. I can’t believe no one else has uttered that (corny) line!?

    And you never know, Larry, where you’re gonna find someone who resonates to the same movie line! I had a great friend, an Osage indian friend, from Pawhuska, OK, who was an artist and a connoisseur of good movies, especially SWAYR and he used to narrow his eyes and say, “Too late Nay-tan!” in his own inimitable way! I’ve never run into anyone else who knew or spoke that line before. I feel a large kinship with your dad, and I remember my old friend, Frank Brave again! Thanks for that!

  34. justjack says:

    It was Bugs Bunny who did that impression, and IIRC, he was actually doing Edward G. Robinson, not Cagney.

  35. GardenStater says:

    Justjack: Bugs did indeed do a bit about “Curtains for you,” but he was playing a gangster named (IIRC) Muggsy, and talking to the Edward G. Robinson character, named “Rocky” (after Eddy G’s character of “Rocco,” in the Bogart/Bacall movie, “Key Largo”)

    Bugs: “It’s curtains for you, Rocky.”

    Ed G: “No, no, Muggsy.”

    Bugs: “Curtains, I tell ya. Curtains.”

    Ed G: “No, no!”

    (Bugs whips out a pair of curtains on a rod, and slaps them onto Eddy G’s shoulders)

    Ed G (looking at curtains): “Oh, they’re adorable.”

  36. GardenStater says:

    You can watch “Racketeer Rabbit” here: http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/index/?cid=88072

  37. justjack says:

    [slaps head] Of course! You’re right, GardenStater. I confused myself thinking of another one where Bugs was kidnapped by that pintsized little gangster named Rocky, and they ended up at the hideout and Bugs made like he was the police, and…

    “Hokay, Clancy, take the boys and surround the house!”

    etc.

    Warner Brothers again.

  38. Heypally says:

    Thank you for that link. THAT is my favorite Bugs short…and I had to hide my disappointment when I got the WB Bugs collection for Christmas from my wife and it was omitted.

    It was remade years later by Chuck Jones with the pint-sized Rocky.

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