Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bogart and our business.

"The Maltese Falcon" directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Ward Bond and the great character actor Elisha Cook, Jr. (look Cook up on IMDB and you'll see what I mean) reminds me a lot of the advertising industry in the second decade of the 21st Century.

More accurately, one scene does. It's a bit of foreplay between Bogart and Cook.

In the movie Cook plays Wilmer, a young "gunsel," the henchman of Greenstreet, "the Fatman." Cook is "all hat, no cattle." All attitude, no substance.

Bogart, of course, is Sam Spade. Wise, wizened, dark and experienced. He's seen it all, done it all, and somehow, against all odds, he keeps moving forward, keeps living by his code.

In this scene, Cook trains a gun on Bogart. Bogart is not fazed and "rides" the young tough. Then, this dialogue ensues:

Cook: Keep on riding me and they're gonna be picking iron out of your liver.
Spade: The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.

Yesterday I came across a couple thousand words of blather by one of the newspeak marketing technologist engagementpreneurs from a prominent west coast agency. I read his pomposity through from top to bottom two times.

I didn't understand any of it.

Occasionally I saw a word or two I recognized but those words were surrounded by other words that I didn't have the foggiest notion of.

I was left saying to myself, "yeah, but what do you do? What do you make that consumers see? What do you create that influences minds or hearts?"

Then, I remembered Spade's great line: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter."

It explains so much of what we deal with today.

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