“Don’t try to understand. Just submit to your needs, as I do.”
He should’ve known the dame was trouble when she opened the door.
“Please come to my house at seven,” the note said. Joe Haskell had just met Mr. Blair the night before, and didn’t like him much, but he was curious about the invite, so he came. He thought he’d get an apology, or an explanation, or at the very least a drink.
Instead, he found a blonde. A blonde that would make a vampire bite his way through a garlic-soaked casket in the middle of the afternoon.
The blonde tells Joe that Mr. Blair had to go out for a few minutes, but he’ll be back soon. He believes her, like a sap.
Joe: Who are you?
Angelique: My name is Angelique. I’m supposed to be Nicholas’ secretary.
Joe: Well, aren’t you?
Angelique: No. Not really.
Joe: Well, who are you, then?
Angelique: If I tell you the truth… can I trust you?
So I guess we’re doing The Maltese Falcon today. We talked last month about how much Nicholas’ relationship with Angelique feels like Sydney Greenstreet bossing Mary Astor around, and now they’re just straight up doing a Maltese Falcon scene.
She needs his help desperately, she says. Nicholas is holding her prisoner, keeping her here against her will, and she can’t break free.
Here’s the original, for the sake of comparison.
Brigid: You’ve got to trust me, Mr. Spade. Oh, I’m so alone and afraid. I’ve got nobody to help me, if you won’t help me. Be generous, Mr. Spade. You’re brave. You’re strong. You can spare me some of that courage and strength, surely. Help me, Mr. Spade; I need help so badly. I have no right to ask you, I know I haven’t, but I do ask you. Help me?
Now, in the movie, this is the reaction she gets:
Sam: You won’t need much of anybody’s help; you’re good. It’s chiefly your eyes, I think, and that throb you get in your voice when you say things like, “Be generous, Mr. Spade.”
But that’s because The Maltese Falcon is entirely dedicated to being a showcase for Humphrey Bogart, the coolest person who ever lived. Pretty much every exchange in the film is somebody trying to put something over on Bogart, and then he gets to make fun of them, smack them in the face, take their gun away, and/or send them to prison. That’s what happens in literally every scene in the movie.
Today’s Dark Shadows has a different kind of pleasure in mind. Joe Haskell is a sap to end all saps, a top-to-bottom Boy Scout who falls for this act like he’s been training for it his whole life.
Angelique: Would you protect me?
Joe: Sure, if it comes to that.
Angelique: Am I really going to escape? Am I really going to be free?
Joe: Oh, now, look… come on, now, don’t cry.
The focus of the Maltese Falcon scene is always on Bogart — Mary Astor, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet each enter the stage to do their dark routine, and then we turn to Sam Spade for his cynical rejoinder. The fun is all about building up a particular threat, and then watching Bogart overcome it, in a surprising way that peels back another layer of the story.
But Joe is just a Nice Guy, reacting just the way any Nice Guy would, in this awkward and puzzling circumstance. We’re not watching Joe here. We’re paying attention to the dame.
And she doesn’t even need to go through all of this rigmarole. Brigid wanted Sam to take the fall for her; all Angelique needs is eight seconds alone with Joe’s jugular vein.
She’s just going through this routine for the fun of it, because she’s been watching The 4:30 Movie, and she wants to show the audience how clever she is. We’re supposed to be on her side, sharing in the weird sadistic joke, as she plays Joe for a fool and then sinks her fangs into his warm, throbbing throatflesh.
We’ll get into the awkward and uncomfortable aftermath of this — specifically, asking the question, What the hell is wrong with us that we like watching somebody get violated like this — but that’s tomorrow’s problem. For now, let’s just enjoy ourselves as the hungry hell-beast rests her head on Joe’s shoulder, and starts to feed.
Dark Shadows bloopers to watch out for:
In Friday’s episode, Willie backed up against a pillar in the drawing room of the Old House, and the pillar wobbled. He does exactly the same thing again today, in the first scene of act 4.
When Joe and Barnabas stare at the ringing telephone in Joe’s apartment, a fly buzzes around, and lands on the phone.
Behind the Scenes:
We see Joe’s apartment for the first time today; it’s a redressed version of the same set that we’ve seen as Burke’s apartment, and Tony Peterson’s. It’s even got the same room number, 24. The layout of the furniture is quite different — this was Tony’s living room, with a desk and a couch. Joe’s got his bed in this room.
During the closing credits, we can see one of the green-shaded lamps on the desk in Joe’s room, and a rarer species — a yellow-shaded lamp of the same design — on the bedside table.
Also, the multi-colored Afghan — usually seen on the couch at Maggie’s place — has migrated over to Joe’s bed today.
— Danny Horn