Saturday, July 3, 2021

The Slap

Robert Montgomery and Nora Gregor in But The Flesh is Weak (1932)

Here is a follow-up to my 2018 article "Slap Happy."  

The slap, which can be a quick and easy way to create comedy or drama, was prevalent in films from the start.

Film sources:

Il duello di Robinet (1910)
Gli stivali di Robinet (1911)
Jobard est demandé en mariage (1911)
La fureur de Mme. Plumette (1912)

It is when an argument is at its peak, with nowhere else to go, and the wisest words no longer matter in the least that the slap will inevitably be introduced.

John Garfield is slapped by mom (Ruth Nelson) in Humoresque (1946).
The scene achieves a rhythm.  It builds, it builds, and then - crack! - the slap occurs.  It marks a crescendo, much like the crash of cymbals in a symphony.  

It was simple for a filmmaker to turn up the drama with a slap.  More thrills were generated with slaps than gunfire in Four Boys and a Gun (1957).  One of the film's many slaps shares prominent poster space with the film's titular gun. 

Jake Hinkson wrote, "Historian Eddie Muller has reported that in the 1940s the more [Dan] Duryea slapped around women onscreen (bizarrely, it kind of became his trademark), the more fan mail he received."

Here's the flesh-and-blood Duryea in action.

Scarlet Street (1945)

Too Late for Tears (1949)

Hollywood presents several categories of slaps, including men-on-men slaps, women-on-women slaps, men-on-women slaps, and women-on-men slaps.

Girl Fight

Boy Fight

Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson in Key Largo (1948)

Battle of the Sexes

Watch out for the one clip in which Alice Kramden (aka Audrey Meadows) sends Gig Young to the moon.

Sometimes, when someone becomes hysterical, a slap is entirely necessary.

Authority Figures

The Generation Slap 

Spare the Hand, Spoil the Child


Select Film Sources: 

The Play House (1921)
The Pilgrim (1923)
Night Nurse (1931)
Blonde Crazy (1931)
The Public Enemy (1931)
Vanity Street (1932)
But the Flesh is Weak (1932)
Hello Sister (1933)
The Woman Accused (1933)
Babyface (1933)
Upperworld (1934)
Dr. Monica (1934)
Reckless (1935)
Crime School (1938)
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) 
The Mad Miss Manton (1938)
Sergeant Madden (1939)
They Made Me a Criminal (1939)
Sante Fe Trail (1940)
Maisie Was a Lady (1941)   
You'll Never Get Rich (1941)
The Little Foxes (1941)
Orchestra Wives (1942)  
Christmas Holiday (1944) 
Lifeboat (1944)
Fallen Angel (1945)
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Saratoga Trunk (1945)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
The Dark Corner (1946)
Kiss of Death (1947)
Possessed (1947)
Singapore (1947)
Raw Deal (1948)
Key Largo (1948)
Too Late for Tears (1949)
Forbidden Street (1949)
The Bribe (1949)
Occupe-toi d'Amélie (1949) 
Barricade (1950) 
The Underworld Story (1950) 
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
Caged (1950)
The People Against O'Hara (1951) 
Pool of London (1951)
Limelight (1952)  
The Narrow Margin (1952)
Kansas City Confidential (1952)
Dangerous Crossing (1953) 
Full of Life (1956)
The Burglar (1957)
Pillow Talk (1959) 
Rue Des Prairies (1959) 
Inherit the Wind (1960)
Elmer Gantry (1960)
La marcia su Roma (1963) 
The Night Walker (1964)
36 Hours (1965)
A Very Special Favor (1965) 
Ten Little Indians (1965)
Quelle strane occasioni (1976)  
I nuovi mostri (1977)
Primo amore (1978) 

Reference source

Jake Hinkson, "Noir's Goon Squad: Dan Duryea," Criminal Element (December 14, 2012).

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