Mr. Brown

big-combo-still2Mr. Brown

You ever watch a movie, read a book and realize you’re being set up to hate a character…except that you don’t, because to you, he’s the best thing going? It happened to me today. My first time viewing of the gorgeous film noir The Big Combo (1955) and Richard Conte’s wonderful “bad, bad man,” Mr. Brown. Oh, Mr. Brown! The ultimate cool customer, even his smirk is menacing. But exactly why do I like this scheming, murderous, double-crossing bastard? Maybe because he’s all in–whatever he wants, he goes for; he thinks ahead, planning for all contingencies; moves slow, in control; he’s proud and arrogant and doesn’t care a damn for your opinion of him, and he’s got the balls to say so. His business is impersonal and that’s why it works, but his downfall is that the women he loves, he actually loves, and love just don’t always work out so well. Oh, to be a bad, bad man…

Diamond, the only trouble with you is, you’d like to be me. You’d like to have my organization, my influence, my fix. You can’t, it’s impossible. You think it’s money. It’s not. It’s personality. You haven’t got it. You’re a cop. Slow. Steady. Intelligent. With a bad temper and a gun under your arm. With a big yen for a girl you can’t have. First is first and second is nobody.

I’ve seen it twice today–now it’s your turn. You can find a nice, crisp print here. You’re first in my book, Mr. Brown. I’ve got an instinct about these things…

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