I dreamed I was watching a DVD of an old black-and-white television series starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The series involved Bogart and Bacall travelling around various islands in their boat, solving mysteries or helping people in trouble. I'd watched a few of them and, although the series wasn't great, the leads were brilliant, as ever, and it usually had an interesting cast of character actors playing the villains. I was glad that it had survived, when so much early television hasn't.
In the episode that I was watching, Bogart and Bacall's boat had just docked at a small pier. A man standing under a clump of trees on shore waved hello. A close-up on Bogart's face showed his shock as he realised that the man was his father, who had been a regular cast member until he had died three episodes before. I thought to myself that the producers had probably regretted killing off a popular character and had worked out some way to bring him back.
They went ashore and spoke to the man, who was friendly but didn't seem to recognise them. Bogart was disturbed and stonily silent, so Bacall did all the talking. Bogart was in a cold sweat and his eyes were narrowed. He knew that this couldn't be his father. Something unnatural and evil must be happening. When the old man bent down to pick up his fishing pack, Bogart swung a shovel down at his head. Bacall blocked the blow -- she's a hardy one -- and glared at Bogart, shaking her head to tell him that they shouldn't do anything until they had found out some more. The old man, who hadn't noticed any of this, straightened up and invited them down to the town to meet the folks.
There was a fade out for an advert break, but no adverts, obviously, since this was an archive DVD.
They walked across the island to the town. Everything seemed perfectly pleasant. Everyone they passed was very nice -- a little too nice, Bogart thought. The people in town were lovely and invited them to dinner in the community centre. After dinner, they cleared the tables away and played a game that involved throwing a little rubber ball at the wall. Bogart couldn't work out the rules at first but eventually realised, with something like horror, that the game was designed so that everybody would win -- there would be no losing side. The people on this island were so nice that they had even abandoned competitive sports!
Suddenly, all the players froze as if they had turned into statues. The room was still, apart from Bogart and Bacall. and one man, a skinny guy with long hair tied back in a ponytail, who was quietly edging out of the back door. They ran after him and discovered him sitting sadly in a workshop, looking at a robotic mannequin. He explained that he had come to the island after becoming depressed at how horrible human beings could be. He had been all alone until he had invented a way of making perfectly lifelike robots, which he could programme to behave like the friendliest and most polite people he had ever met. Bogart's dad had been one of those people. If only he could stop the robots from breaking down all the time! He couldn't do any more on his own, though. He simply didn't have the resources on the island.
Bogart was extremely moved. Bacall told the inventor that, since he was such a genius and had created these fantastic robots, if he returned to America now, he would find that everyone would be much kinder to him than they had been before and that he would probably find that he would become a fantastically wealthy and happy man surrounded by lots of friendly people. Nobody would be horrible to him again.
Bogart and Bacall offered to take him to New York. As their boat pulled away from the pier, the robotic islanders waved and called out "Bon voyage!"
Notes for Freudian Interpretation
A complete episode of an unmade television series starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall -- how about that? I don't have entirely fiction-set dreams like that very often, but I'm always happy when I do. I haven't written about the best one that I had, which involved a man who gets pregnant in a research station in the Arctic after a global disaster, as I intend to work it up into a screenplay that will secure my fortune and I don't want anyone stealing the ideas.
I should point out that, although the previous dream that I wrote about also featured Lauren Bacall, that was over a month ago and I've had a few interesting dreams since then that, for one reason or another, I haven't written about. Let there be no suggestion that Lauren Bacall has a disproportionately large place in my subconscious.
She's great, though, isn't she?
In the 1950s, Bogart and Bacall were in a radio drama series called "Bold Venture", which I've been listening to on my ipod on the way to and from work. Bogart owns a hotel in Havana and a boat, the Bold Venture. At the beginning of each show, the announcer says "Adventure! Intrigue! Mystery! And romance! Starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall! Together in the sultry settings of tropical Havana and the mysterious islands of the Caribbean!" The strange thing about it is that, even though it's supposed to be a mystery show, the second scene almost always involves the villain explaining to an accomplice exactly what he or she has done, thereby removing from the mystery the vital element of mystery. Interestingly, the story in the dream follows a more conventional mystery structure. Could it be that the second-scene exposition in the radio show has annoyed me so much that my subconscious was driven to invent a "Bold Venture" story that worked as a normal mystery?
It strikes me that the tortured faces that Bogart pulled when he was confused about how his dad could have come back to life were taken from the film "In a Lonely Place", where he plays a violently unstable writer with the markedly Freudian name of Dix Steele.