Claude Rains

Rains Casa

Birth Name: William Claude Rains

Birthdate: November 10, 1889

Date of Death: May 30, 1967

Number of Films Claude Rains made with Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Actor

The son of British theater actor Frederick Rains, Claude Rains was raised around the stage, working various jobs backstage and onstage as he received a well-rounded education in the dramatic arts.

Rising quickly through the theater ranks to become known as one of England’s preeminent stage actors, Rains also taught acting at England’s Royal Academy of Arts where such greats as John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier spent time as his students.

After even more success on Broadway in New York, Rains finally headed west to Hollywood where he received the lead role in his first American film, The Invisible Man for Universal Pictures. After a few years, Rains would move on to Warner Brothers where he would star alongside of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca for which he received one of his four Oscar nominations.

Rains only made two films with Bogart, but ever since that first viewing of Casablanca, I’ve been a big fan of his work. Is there anyone on earth who didn’t laugh out loud the very first time they witnessed this exchange between Rains and Bogart:

Bogart as Rick Blaine: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Rains as Capt. Louis Renault: I’m shocked, SHOCKED – to find out that gambling is going on in here!

Croupier: (HANDING RAINS A LARGE STACK OF CASH) Your winnings, sir.

Renault: Oh, thank you very much. (TO THE ENTIRE NIGHTCLUB) Everybody out at once!

The Filmography

Casablanca – 1942

Rains Casa 2

Rains gives an amazing performance as Captain Louis Renault, the ruling authority in Casablanca who also happens to be friends with Bogart . . . as long as the bribes keep coming and the the Germans don’t apply too much pressure. What a testament to Rains’ talent that he can commit completely despicable deeds one moment and then have us laughing with joy the next. In a film with a lot of great humor, Rains takes a hefty chunk of it, stealing nearly every scene that he’s in, including the one mentioned above. I can’t be the only one who wants to see just a few minutes of Renault and Blaine’s post-Casablanca adventure together! Can you imagine these two guys fighting, drinking, joking, cajoling, and swindling their way through German troops as they work for the French resistance? And, of course, Rains and Bogart close out the film with perhaps the most memorable movie-ending in the history of cinema! You can read my original write up on the film here.

Passage to Marseille – 1944

Rains Passage to Marseille

Reunited with Bogart, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet just two years after Casablanca, Rains plays Captain Freycinet, commander of an Allied air base that’s about to launch a bombing raid out of England. It’s a much more sympathetic and heroic role for Rains this time around, with a lot less snarky one liners to steal the show. Rains ends up on a steam tramp with escaped prisoners Bogart and Lorre as they try to stay out of German hands while heading off Greenstreet’s opportunist French officer. Rains especially nails his role during the funeral in the final moments of the movie where I think that he gives my favorite scene from any of his films. You can read my original write up on the film here.

*The Usual Suspects is an ongoing feature at ‘The Bogie Film Blog’ where we highlight some of Bogart’s most interesting collaborators. You can read the rest of the posts in the feature here.*

Lux Radio Theater – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – 1949

Untitled

My Review

—Huston and Bogart are Awesome—

Producer: William Keighley

Honorary Bogie Radio Fix:

5 radio out of 5 Bogies!

The Lowdown

Two down-on-their-luck men pool their resources with an old prospector to search for gold in Mexico. You can read my original write up on the film here.

What I Thought

Lux Radio Theater pulled off a really well done adaption of the film this time around, as Walter Huston and Bogart both reprise their original roles. Of all the radio versions of films that I’ve covered for the blog so far, this one’s got to come close to most listens on my iPod, perhaps only rivaled by Bogart and Greer Garson’s adaption of The African Queen.

Essential to this greatly shortened adaption (coming in at less than an hour) is the choice to have Walter Huston’s character, Howard, narrate the story rather than some stock radio announcer. It gives the listener a much stronger character insight into Huston while serving as more than just plot advancement for the portions of the film that had to be removed.

There are a handful of actors portraying Mexican children, bandits, and natives that probably over-stereotype the accents a bit, but I suppose it’s forgivable considering the era in which it was produced. I only wish that we could have a resource for the complete cast lists of these adaptions as I would love to give credit to some of the other actors besides Bogart and Huston. The actor who took over the role for Tim Holt does a great job here, but I wasn’t able to find his name anywhere.

The Bogart Factor

With a much shorter running time, I thought it was a lot of fun to discover a slightly tweaked character for Bogart’s Fredd C. Dobbs here. With a shortened script comes more compact lines, and this leads us to see Dobbs as a much more unstable character far earlier into the story than what we saw in the film. It completely changes the character dynamics between Dobbs and Huston’s old prospector (which I’ll dive into a bit deeper below) and it makes a wonderful complimentary piece to the original film.

I’ve said it for every Bogart radio performance so far and I’ll say it again, he knew how to bring 100% to these audio versions of his films and it’s a joy to hear him recreate the roles!

The Cast

Walter Huston reprises his role as Howard, the crusty old prospector that’s been parodied countless times over the years since he gave his amazing performance for this film. Just like Huston steals the silver screen version, this entire adaption is his playground to rule as well. He sounds like he’s having a ton of fun as he holds nothing back narrating the story and interacting with Bogart and the other actors. The final scene in which he and the other actor realize that the gold is gone and they begin to laugh has a wonderful moment in which they stop for just a fraction of a second, we think it’s over, and then they begin to howl again. It was a great choice to make and Huston seems to be playing for a slightly crazier version of the film’s original character.

I also noted in my film write up that Bogart and Huston seem to be playing the devil and angel on Tim Holt’s respective shoulders as they show him both sides of humanity’s potential for greed and madness. Here though, Huston’s portrayal comes off as much more unstable, leading us to believe that the third young prospector, Curtain, is not only the most sane man in the mountains, but also a less important character overall.

I would love to be able to credit the men who played both Curtain and Cody, and perhaps some Old Time Radio lover out there can lead me to complete cast list!

Classic Bogie Moment

It must have been a real thrill to see Bogart live on stage recreating his most famous roles. One fun little surprise from this adaption was the actual crowd laughter that followed this line:

Bogart: Fred C. Dobbs ain’t a guy that likes being taken advantage of. We got no real choice at all. Bump him off!

They’re clearly not laughing because Bogart’s playing it for laughs. It’s just such a wonderfully shocking reading of the line that gives us a full perspective of how far Bogart’s willing to go in order to keep his full interests in the gold. No one could threaten a life as well as Bogie!

The Bottom Line

Probably the best radio adaption of a Bogart film that I’ve heard so far.

Lauren Bacall

Bogie and Bacall Big Sleep

Birth Name: Betty Joan Perske

Date of Birth: September 16, 1924

Date of Death: August 12, 2014

Number of films that Lauren Bacall made with Humphrey Bogart:  6

The Actress

I wasn’t planning on adding Bacall to ‘The Usual Suspects’ portion of the blog for quite a while. Much like when I saved Casablanca for my final Bogart film review, Bacall was going to be the cherry on top of a year spent recapping some of Bogart’s other greatest collaborators. I was going to save the best for last. But alas, with Bacall’s passing this past week, I couldn’t help but spend some time reliving a handful of my favorite films with my all-time favorite actress.

When I heard the news that Bacall had died, I had a strange feeling of regret rather than remorse. Usually when one of my favorite Hollywood icons passes, it leaves me in a funk for several weeks. (Jimmy Stewart passed not too long after my grandfather. Don’t even ask how wonderful I was to be around for a few months after that . . .) Here though, I felt different. I felt an immediate sense of great disappointment rather than grieving.

I think that in the back of my mind I had always assumed that I would eventually get to see Ms. Bacall in person. Maybe even get the chance to talk to her or get an autograph. Perhaps it would be at a TCM or Bogart film festival – I’m not sure, I hadn’t actually planned it out in my head, but of all the actors that I’ve written about since starting this blog, Lauren Bacall was still alive. She was still with us. She was a physical link to Classic Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart, and cinema history. She was a living, breathing presence that graced the same ground that I did.

I have no doubt that the grieving will hit me sooner than later. Just the act of creating this post gave me pause a few times as I popped Bogie/Bacall DVDs. A quick and simple screencap from To Have and Have Not ended up lasting over an hour as I just started watching the film rather than watching for a good moment to steal.

So no Bacall bio from me this week. Maybe someday. If you need to, check out her IMDB page here, or read her wonderful autobiography. Head over to Wikipedia for her page or watch one of the numerous Bogart DVD extras that record her amazing rise to fame at nineteen and the subsequent love affair with Hollywood’s greatest star. I just don’t think that I’m ready to dive back in and write-up a more concise record of her life and career yet.

Rest in peace, Slim. If only we were so lucky as to have seen you walk into that great gin joint in the sky and be reunited with Mr. Bogart. Your legacy will live forever, but your presence will be sorely missed.

The Filmography

To Have and Have Not – 1944

Bacall To have and have not 2

From my original post on the film here:

“I . . . I don’t even know where to begin. I fell so deeply in love with this woman because of this film. Marie is reportedly based largely on Hawks’ own glamorous wife, which, if true, good for him. This being Bacall’s first movie, I am continually astounded at how she is able to play such a depth of maturity at such a young age. I’ve seen Bogart fall in love with a lot of women on screen, but this is the one time I truly believed it. It’s more than the lines and the blocking. We are watching this woman and this man court one another right before our eyes.”

Bacall plays Marie Browning, a young grifter in Fort de France, Martinique who falls for Bogart’s tour fishing captain, Harry Morgan. Again, from the orignal post:

“The first moment when Lauren Bacall sits on Humphrey Bogart’s lap in To Have and Have Not, something inside me stirs in such a deep and private way that I’m uncomfortable watching the film with other people in the room.

“Broke and stranded in Martinique, Marie takes to conning men – teasing them to the point of stupidity, before making off with their wallets. She says that she’s slowly building her funds so that she can make it back home, but we don’t believe her because Morgan doesn’t believe her. He reads her even better than she can read him or any other man. Marie is running from a past of pain and abuse, and the fact that Morgan picks up on it so quickly unnerves her deeply.

“Morgan and Marie are two people who both exude extreme confidence while privately loathing what they’ve let themselves become. So close are they attuned to each other’s inner truth, that they immediately start to distance themselves in a bit of role-play – as if using each other’s real names might be too intimate. Morgan only refers to her ‘Slim.’ Marie refers to him as ‘Steve.’ (Which, according to IMDB might, be a reference to the word “stevedore” which means “dockworker.”) They circle one another endlessly, gently keeping their distance – until Hawks has them touch. And then? Boom. White hot sparks.

“Bacall was nineteen when she starred in this! NINETEEN! What were you doing when you were nineteen? I was . . . well, I won’t bother telling you where my sympathies lay back then.”

This was the film where I fell hard for Lauren Bacall and she became my number one classic film screen crush. I could have this one on a loop in the background for eternity and never get tired of it. You can also read the write-up I did on the radio adaption of the film starring both Bacall and Bogart here.

The Big Sleep – 1946

Bacall Big sleep

A film that I got to enjoy posting on twice, The Big Sleep is available in two versions. From my original posts here (1946’s Hollywood release) and here (the unreleased pre-edited 1945 version):

“The widely accepted and well chronicled story is that Lauren Bacall’s agent, Charles Feldman, started to get nervous about his new young wunderkind after horrible reviews were written for her performance in the film Confidential AgentAgent was Bacall’s follow-up film after becoming an overnight sensation alongside of Bogart in To Have and Have Not, and Feldman was apparently freaking out at the idea of Bacall disappearing into Hollywood obscurity after being labeled as a one-hit wonder.

“With this film already delayed, Feldman wrote to Jack Warner, pleading to reshoot some scenes and add more of the fiery romantic flavor that Bogart and Bacall shared in To Have and Have Not. Warner agreed, Director Howard Hawks eventually relented to rework some shots, the stars reassembled a year after production, and seven reels of the film were altered with reordered scenes and a little over 20 minutes of new or alternate material.

“Bogart and Bacall’s romance is beefed up considerably. I felt that in the pre-release version, Bacall comes off as a bit more threatening to Bogart. Reshoots were done on a few scenes to make her a little more affectionate, and their innuendo-heavy ‘horse racing’ scene was added to help build up the sexual tension. In the original version though, I thought that Bacall came off as much less trustworthy and there seemed to be considerably more tension as to whether or not she was really on Bogart’s side.”

As the older sister Vivian Rutledge, Bacall is fantastic in both films. Whether you love or hate the overly complicated plot, this one’s a must see if you’re a Bacall fan, a Bogart fan, a classic film fan, or a cinema fan of any sort!

Two Guys from Milwaukee – 1946

It’s just a brief cameo here by the couple playing themselves. I’ve got a write-up on the film coming in about a month, so, as I said, I was planning on holding off on this ‘Usual Suspects’ post for a bit. But since it’s just a cameo, I figured that I could update it when the post on the film is finished . . .

But to make up for it, here’s a YouTube clip of the entire cameo.

Dark Passage – 1947

Bacall Dark Passage

Bacall plays Irene Jansen, the woman who mysteriously seems to have a personal stake in an escaped convict (Bogart) and houses him after he alters his appearance with plastic surgery while on the run. As the story goes, Jack Warner and the critics were pretty upset that Bogart spends the first hour of this film hidden behind bandages. Not only that, but there are a number of first-person shots from his eyes, so all we hear is his voice over.

As for me? I can’t complain. From my original post on the film here:

“Make no mistake about it, this is Bacall’s movie to make or break. She’s gotten a lot of flak for not being able to stand on her own without Bogart when it comes to many of her non-Bogart films, but here she shows that with the right director, she can work wonders. Much of the first hour of this film is spent in close-ups on her remarkable face as we see from Bogart’s first-person point of view, and it’s impossible to take your eyes off the screen whether she’s talking, moving, or just sitting perfectly still. This woman is stunning, and when given a chance, she knew how to combine her looks and her acting talent to truly command the big screen. If you’re a Bacall fan at all, this one’s definitely worth a look.”

Key Largo – 1948

Bacall Key Largo

Their last big screen film together, Bacall plays Nora Temple, the widow of Bogart’s recently deceased army buddy. Not the deepest of roles compared to their other four major pairings, but Bacall is strong, defiant, and just soft enough to care for the stranger who has stumbled across her doorstep. The real life chemistry between Hollywood’s greatest couple carries over well into the film, and the close ups they share together are worth the price of admission alone.

The overall film is so great, and with Lionel Barrymore and Edward G. Robinson as costars, it’s a wonderful way for Bogie and Bacall to finish their time together on the silver screen. Bacall’s relationship with her surrogate father, Barrymore, speaks volumes to her subtleties as an actress as she’s able to convey so much affection through simple touches and caring looks.

That shot above where Bacall casually brushes back her hair as she helps Bogart on the docks is such an authentically small moment that it melts my heart every single time. How is it possible that she seems even younger here than she did four years earlier in To Have and Have Not? How amazing is it that Bogart got to close out his onscreen relationships with two of his greatest costars (Bacall and Robinson) in one film?

If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and call in sick tomorrow. You can read my original post on the film here.

Producer’s Showcase – “The Petrified Forest” – 1955

pet From my original post here:

“Nearly twenty years after Humphrey Bogart made Duke Mantee his breakout role on the silver screen, he returned to the small screen to reprise the gangster one more time for the TV show, Producer’s Showcase. Stepping in for Bette Davis is Lauren Bacall as Gabby, and Henry Fonda plays Alan Squier, the role made famous by Leslie Howard.”

Well, to be honest, trying to step into a young Bette Davis’ shoes is all but impossible, but Bacall still does well here. She may not capture the spunk and vigor of Davis’ original love-struck teen, but Bacall does comes off as much more believable in the scenes where she talks about literature and recites poetry.

Again, it’s another wonderful instance of Bacall getting to share in a monumental moment with Bogart as he returns to the role that really notched his belt with its first major mark as a superstar in front of the world. Such an incredibly interesting experiment in the rebooting of a film, this one’s worth a look if only to say that you saw Bogie and Bacall together for the last time!

* ‘The Usual Suspects’ is an ongoing feature at The Bogie Film Blog where we highlight some of Bogart’s most celebrated costars, and occasionally, it makes this writer tear up a bit when he has to write a post like this one. You can read the rest of the posts in the feature here. *

 

Sydney Greenstreet

Greenstreet Casablanca

Birth Name: Sydney Hughes Greenstreet

Birthdate: December 27, 1879

Date of Death: January 18, 1954

Number of Films Sydney Greenstreet made with Humphrey Bogart: 5

The Actor

The son of a leather merchant, Sydney Greenstreet spent some time working in both the tea industry and a brewery before finally finding his calling on the stage in England as the villain in an adaption of a Sherlock Holmes play. Adept at comedy, musicals, and Shakespeare, Greenstreet worked in both Europe and America, holding out against the call from Hollywood until he finally accepted the role of Kaspar “The Fat Man” Gutman in 1941’s The Maltese Falcon at the age of 61.

It’s pretty astonishing to consider that Gutman was Greenstreets first film role, as he seems just as comfortable in front of the camera as he supposedly was on the stage. I’m incredibly jealous of all the audiences that got to see him live and in person for years before he finally gave in to Tinsel Town’s beckoning and headed west. From his numerous pairings with Peter Lorre to his five iconic roles with Bogart, I firmly believe that there hasn’t been a big-man actor with such a commanding presence onscreen since Greenstreet’s last film over 60 years ago.

Did they really base the character of The Kingpin from Daredevil comics on Greenstreet? Was George Lucas actually inspired to model Jabba the Hut after the 300+ pound actor? Hollywood myth and legend says so, and I’m inclined to believe it because Greenstreet was certainly worthy of every praise and accolade that came his way!

This entry into “The Usual Suspects” portion of the Bogie Film Blog is long overdue, and doggone it, I think I’m going to pop in Passage to Marseille tonight just to get another dose of my favorite cinematic big man.

The Filmography

The Maltese Falcon – 1941

Maltese Falcon Greenstreet

Greenstreet plays Kaspar “The Fat Man” Gutman, the treasure seeking heavy that’s following the falcon around the globe. What an incredible film debut! Greenstreet steals nearly every scene that he’s in with his amazing laugh and exuberant confidence. His constant amusement over Bogart’s confusion is wonderful, and it’s a real shame that it took so long to get this man to the big screen, “By gad!” The scene where he turns on his henchman Wilmer is so painfully funny and well done that it might be my favorite bit from all of his films. A villain who so believably loves life while committing dastardly crimes at the same time is the best kind of bad guy a film could ever hope for. Greenstreet also reprised his role numerous times for radio adaptions of the film, which you can check out here and here. You can read my original write up on the film here.

In This Our Life – 1942

Greenstreet NO

Directed by John Huston, rumor had it that Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and a few others had appeared in the film during a tavern scene as background players to add a little “in-joke” for Huston fans. Whether the scene was cut out from the film or just a hoax to begin with, none of them are visible. Is the film still worth a watch? You bet! Bette Davis is always worth spending an evening with! Just don’t get your hopes up for this superstar cameo that doesn’t deliver! You can read my original write up on the film here.

Across the Pacific – 1942

Greenstreet Bogart Astor

Greenstreet plays the cagey Dr. Lorenz, a passenger who seems to have untoward intentions as he shares an oceanic voyage with Bogart and Mary Astor. What I really loved about Greenstreet here is that his character is an incredibly wealthy world traveler, meaning Greenstreet is dressed to the nines and drenched with a slightly more authentic sophistication than he was in The Maltese Falcon. One of my all-time favorite Greenstreet-Bogart scenes occurs when Greenstreet needles Bogart’s history out of him with an endless supply of booze. Any classic Bogart film has at least one drunk Bogie scene in it. Adding Greenstreet into the mix just makes it all the better! Greenstreet reprised his role for a radio adaption, and you can read my original write up on the film here.

Casablanca – 1942

Greenstreet Casa 2

Greenstreet plays Signor Ferrari, Bogart’s main nightclub competitor in Casablanca. Whenever I consider this film from memory, Bogart and Greenstreet always seem like enemies. But every time I view it, I’m reminded that these guys might actually be pretty decent friends – maybe even playing a few games of after-hours chess over drinks when curfew kicks in. Just consider for a moment that Blaine entrusts his entire staff, including Sam, into Ferrari’s hands at the end of the film on nothing more than a handshake deal! That’s got to be a great show of faith in a man who’s supposedly trying to beat you at your own game. It’s an amazing testament to Greenstreet’s presence here that most casual fans seem to remember this as his signature role, even though his part isn’t that big! You can read my original write up on the film here.

Passage to Marseille – 1942

Passage Greenstreet

Greenstreet plays French officer Major Duval, who happens to be traveling on a boat with a number of recently escaped french convicts trying to get to England as word breaks that Germany now occupies France. The ever-so-snarky Major Duval doesn’t feel very patriotic to his homeland, and can’t get back to France quickly enough to show his support to the Nazis as he turns over the prisoners to the proper authorities. The real story in the cast here is the alliance between Bogart and Peter Lorre as they get to play outright friends as opposed to enemies or even tense allies, but Greentstreet’s presence certainly makes this one an underappreciated classic! You can read my original write up on the film here.

Conflict – 1945

Bogart and Sydney in Conflict

Greenstreet plays psychologist Dr. Mark Hamilton, family friend to Bogart’s murderous Dick Mason. How great is it to not only see Greenstreet play a good guy in a Bogart film, but to see them actually chum around a bit before things get tense? Greenstreet is so good as the warm and gregarious Dr. Hamilton that you just want to give the big guy a hug. He seems truly happy in the role, and when you view the film for the second and third times, it’s a lot of fun to see him subtly tipping his hat towards the twist ending. Definitely a must see collaboration between Bogart and Greenstreet! You can read my original write up on the film here.

-“The Usual Suspects” is an ongoing feature at the Bogie Film Blog where we dive a tad bit deeper into some of Bogart’s most recurring collaborators. You can find the rest of the posts here.-

Casablanca – 1942

Casablanca Poster

My Review

—Hollywood’s Greatest Film—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

5 Bogie

Director: Michael Curtiz

The Lowdown

An American expat (Bogart) running a nightclub in Casablanca, Morocco during World War II is surprised when his ex (Ingrid Bergman) shows up, married to the leader (Pal Henried) of Europe’s underground resistance.

What I Thought

This is it. The absolute pinnacle of Bogart films as far as I’m concerned, which is why I saved it for last. This was the cherry on the top of a year-and-a-half of Bogart film viewing.

Sure, I’ve seen Casablanca so many times that I’ve lost count, but this was the first time that I’ve sat down with a more analytical eye. Knowing that I was going to do a write-up, I asked myself, Why is this film so perfect in my mind? Why was this the film that served as my gateway into classic cinema? Why is this film remembered by many, if not most casual film fans, as Bogart’s greatest role?

I think a majority of the credit has to go to Director Michael Curtiz. From beginning to end, the city of Casablanca feels like a fully realized world. The daytime scenes are crammed from one edge of the screen to other with bustling crowds filling city streets and diversely populated nightclub scenes. The city is supposed to be overflowing with people looking to escape the war and Director Curtiz nailed it. This film is bursting at the seams with background artists, minor roles cast to perfection, supporting roles with some of Hollywood’s greatest character actors, and a handful of main characters that are handled deftly and given the time that they each need to establish their moments in the story.

Another huge chunk of credit goes to the twin Epstein brothers, Julius and Philip, who adapted the play for the big screen. There are a lot of great stories about how the Epstein’s regarded this script as just another studio assignment, how they wrote and rewrote scenes the very day that they were needed, and how they never really thought much of the finished film. (Julius was quoted as saying it not nothing more than “slick shit.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.)

The script is filled with dozens upon dozens of quotable lines. Yet at the same time, it was just incomplete and loose enough that the actors were able to fill in their own memorable moments when needed. Bogart reportedly supplied the line, “Here’s looking at you, kid,” and it was producer Hal Wallis who supposedly came up with, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” and had it dubbed in after shooting was complete.

“Are my eyes really brown?”

“Well, there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.”

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

“I came to Casablanca for the waters.”

“You know, Rick, I have many a friend in Casablanca, but somehow, just because you despise me, you are the only one I trust.”

“I remember every detail. The Germans wore gray, you wore blue.”

“Round up the usual suspects.”

“Such watch?”

These are just a few of the lines that I try very hard to work into my daily conversations and I hope that the comments section of this post is LOADED with all the quotes that I didn’t mention.

But back to Director Curtiz. What strikes me as most interesting is that this was one of seven film collaborations that he had with Bogart. Curtiz worked on a limited number of scenes for both Black Legion and Marked Woman, and directed Kid Galahad, Angels with Dirty Faces, Virginia City, Passage to Marseille, and We’re No Angels. Some of those other collaborations are good. A few I would even consider to be great. But in my mind, none come close to Casablanca’s perfection.

The Bogart Factor

After so many viewings, this was the very first time that I’ve ever really noticed how the entire span of Bogart’s career seems to be contained within nightclub owner Rick Blaine. Since this was the last film in my Bogart journey, it probably helps that I’ve now sat through all of his other work from the beginning, no matter how small a part it might have been.

Especially during the flashbacks of France, we see an energetic, ever-so-slightly goofy and naïve character much like the ones Bogart played in Up the River, Love Affair, and Men Are Such Fools. It’s just enough “aw shucks” shoulder shrugging that I was really reminded of how wide Bogart’s range could be when we transition back to the darkened bar where he’s drinking away his memories of Ilsa and Paris.

There in the bar, we have the much more tightly wound, much angrier, much more depressed man who shows up in many of Bogart’s gangster roles, but perhaps especially films like San Quentin, Dead End, or The Petrified Forest. Films where Bogart seems to spend most of his time reflecting on how poorly his life has turned out and how desperately he wishes to move past his resentment and remorse.

And yet, at the core of Rick Blaine is the confident, loyal, trustworthy, stand-up man who will always end up doing the right thing, even if he tries to convince you that he sticks his neck out for no one! This is the type of character that we see Bogart playing later in his career – the Sam Spade’s, Rick Leland’s, and the majority of brooding expatriates that stick their necks out for everybody that filled Bogart’s filmography for the next ten plus years.

A white tuxedo. A trench coat and fedora. Cigarettes. Booze. A shady past. A mysterious woman. A broken heart. A pistol. These are the very things that Bogart helped define as icons of Classic Hollywood cinema and they’re all on display here in Casablanca. Of all his films, this is the one that I come back to again and again when I need a full and complete Bogart fix. I’ve found many other films where his performances might be more nuanced – more well-rounded – but this is definitively and understandably the role that establishes him as Hollywood’s greatest leading man.

The Cast

Ingrid Bergman plays Ilsa Lund, Bogart’s ex and the current wife of the underground resistance leader Victor Laszlo. I can’t say enough good things about Bergman here, as this is her essential performance as far as I’m concerned. I know it doesn’t have as much depth as a few of her other high profile roles, but doggone it if I still don’t know whether or not she was really ready to leave Laszlo for Blaine at the end of the film. That nighttime scene in the bar just after Rick’s first flashback . . . drunk Bogart . . . forlorned Bergman . . . so good.

Dooley Wilson plays the piano playing singer at Rick’s Café Américain, Sam. What an incredible job Wilson does here playing the greatest wingman any guy could ever hope for. It was only after viewing the film for the umpteenth time that I realized Wilson’s fingers are in no-way-shape-or-form playing that piano believably, yet it took me forever to notice because I can’t take my eyes off of his face and my ears away from his voice. The guy was a natural, and in my dream of dreams I would go through Wilson’s entire filmography just to see if he did anything else that was as close to great as his performance in Casablanca. (Did I JUST read on imdb that he’s an uncredited piano player in Knock on Any Door?!? I will see if this is true TONIGHT!) *It is 100% true! Just after the 47 minute mark, there he is playing piano and accepting a beer!!! – 8/14/14 BFB*

Paul Henreid plays the battle weary and aged-beyond-his-years resistance leader, Victor Laszlo. According to Hollywood lore, Henreid almost didn’t take the role because he wasn’t the lead and he was afraid that it would set him back in his career. Thank goodness he accepted the part, because so much of the film’s gravitas depends heavily on us not hating Laszlo even though he’s standing in Rick Blaine’s way to Ilsa. To be fair to his initial instincts, Henreid isn’t remembered as one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men, but I don’t think that’s any fault of his supporting role in this film. He’s a great actor and very handsome, but just didn’t have that uber-unique look or acting style that let him break into the upper echelon of Hollywood’s greatest legends.

Claude Rains wonderfully plays Bogart’s friend and sometime foil, Captain Louis Renault. What a testament to Rains’ talent that he can commit completely despicable deeds one moment, and have us laughing with joy the next. Rains was an insanely talented supporting actor, and I can never get enough of his work. I can’t be the only one who wants to see just a few minutes of Renault and Blaine’s post-Casablanca adventure together! Can you imagine these two guys fighting, drinking, joking, cajoling, and swindling their way through German troops as they work for the French resistance?

Conrad Veidt plays Major Heinrich Strasser, the head Nazi in charge of catching Victor Laszlo and making sure that he spends the rest of his life in a concentration camp, or dead. It’s not a huge role for Veidt, as he’s mainly used as an imposing villain to move the plot along, but as with the rest of the roles in the film, this one’s cast very well.

Sidney Greenstreet plays Signor Ferrari, Rick Blaine’s main nightclub competitor in Casablanca. Until this viewing, I never stopped to consider how cordial Ferrari and Blaine are when they’re together. I think these guys might actually be pretty decent friends – maybe even playing a few games of after-hours chess over drinks when curfew kicks in. Just consider for a moment that Blaine entrusts his entire staff, including Sam, into Ferrari’s hands at the end of the film. That’s got to be a great show of faith in a man who’s supposedly trying to beat you at your own game.

Peter Lorre plays the black market dealer Ugarte. How fantastic is this guy that he could make such a memorable contribution to this film with such a small part? I’m seriously shocked again and again as I watch this film and realize that he’s only in a hand full of scenes, yet his role looms very large over the legend and mythos of Casablanca.

S. Z. Sakall plays Carl, the host/waiter in Rick’s café. A wonderful, lovable, solid, hilarious, and incredibly talented supporting actor. The scene where he watches Rick help the young couple win at roulette is enough to make you want to hug him.

There’s Bogie Film Blog favorite Dan Seymour playing Abdul the doorman! He has no lines here in this tiny role, but he is namechecked by Rick!

And there are TONS of other supporting actors who deserve a mention, but I gotta stop somewhere!

Classic Bogie Moment

How? HOW do I pick here?!? There is too, too, too much to choose from. Trench coat and fedora? White tux? A pic with Lorre? One with Greenstreet? I gotta go with this one, because Dooley Wilson just doesn’t get enough love on this blog:

Casablanca classic

The Bottom Line

I came home from high school one afternoon and my mom was just at the beginning of this film. I’d never sat through an entire classic film before, but decided to give it a try. I’ve never looked back. After 465 days and 115 posts of my own personal nonstop Bogart movie marathon, I’ve grown to appreciate not only Bogart in a much greater capacity, but Classic Hollywood, and film as a whole.

Long live the legacy of Humphrey Bogart.

The Desperate Hours – 1955

The-Desperate-Hours-Poster

My Review

—A Gangster Icon Returns One Last Time—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

5 Bogie

Director: William Wyler

The Lowdown

Three men (Bogart, Dewey Martin, and Robert Middleton) escape prison and take an Indianapolis family hostage as they hijack their home.

What I Thought

This was the last available Bogart film out there that I hadn’t seen and I saved it for my penultimate viewing because I’d heard so many good things about it. It had been built up so much in my mind in fact, that I was afraid there was no way it could live up to its own word of mouth. Thankfully, I loved every minute of it.

Just like Bogart’s first film collaboration with Director William Wyler, Dead End, The Desperate Hours is a play brought to the big screen. Like Dead End, Director Wyler is able to widen the scope on the original source material and never make us feel as if we’re watching a “filmed play.” While 90% of the action takes place within one particular house, we get just enough exterior and other-location shots to make this feel like a fully inhabited world.

In an odd coincidence, the house used in the film is also the same one that would go on to be used for exterior shots in Leave it to Beaver. When you watch the film, it’s pretty hard not to feel a very Cleaver-ish style vibe from the family during the opening ten minutes. Director Wyler does a great job of setting up a completely tension-less, neat and tidy, suburbanite family – only to then systematically proceed to tear them apart, bit by bit.

If I had to nitpick about anything, it’d be the cast. While everyone is great in their roles, certain actors do stretch the credibility of the script just a little. So Frederic March is a 58 year old father with a 19 year old daughter and a 10 year old son. Maybe not completely out of the ordinary, as lots of couples have ‘oops’ babies later on in life. But then you have Gig Young who was over 40 playing the love interest to a character who was 19 . . . a little creepy. And when you finally factor in that Bogart and Dewey Martin play brothers separated by twenty-four years in age, you might find yourself trying to come up with a little backstory for the characters since none is provided. (So maybe they’re from one of those big Catholic families, right? And maybe they had eleven kids with Bogart being the oldest and Martin being the youngest. . . That could work, couldn’t it?) Then again, maybe I’m the only one that notices such things. March and Martin both do amazing jobs, and Bogart is so good that it’s hard to imagine a much younger actor filling the role. (I’ll cover it in ‘The Bogart Factor’ below!)

The Bogart Factor

How fantastic is it that Bogart’s first big break was as ‘Duke’ Mantee in The Petrified Forest, and then in his second to last film he returns with an almost identical character and plotline with the role of Glenn Griffin here? What an incredible double feature this would be for any classic film fans who need a great lineup on a Friday night!

So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. When the play won its Tony on Broadway, a young and much lesser known Paul Newman was the star. Half Bogart’s age, Newman’s casting makes a bit more sense when you factor in the younger brother storyline that weighs pretty heavily into plot. I can only imagine what kind of tour-de-force Newman must have been on stage, but being a celebrated Broadway actor who’d really only had bit parts on television, Newman wasn’t used for the role when it came up for grabs in Hollywood. Would it have been a better movie? Who’s to say? It would have been different for sure. It might have been an earlier launching pad for another one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors as it would still be another three years before Newman would really break out with Somebody Up There Likes Me and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

But back to Bogart! This is his second to last film and there’s no trace of the illness that would eventually take his life on display here. He looks rough and ragged, but that’s what the role calls for. He smokes, snarls, leers, and blows his top in the most masterful of ways and it’s a captivating watch. This one’s certainly going into my top one or two ‘Older Bogie’ performances, and I can’t wait to watch it again.

The Cast

Frederic March plays Dan Hilliard, the father of the household where Bogart and his cronies hold up. March, while perhaps a bit long in the tooth for the role, does an outstanding job here going toe-to-toe with Bogart. When the tables turned and the gun was finally in his hands, don’t try to tell me you didn’t let out an audible “Shoot him!” just like I did!

Martha Scott plays Ellie Hilliard, the mother of the household. Out of all the characters, Ellie is the one who comes the closest to being portrayed as a two-dimensional stereotype, but Scott is given just enough brave moments to flesh the role out a bit.

Dewey Martin plays Bogart’s younger brother and fellow escapee, Hal Griffin. Again, Martin might be a tad too old for the role as he is expected to pine after his lost teenage years despite the fact that he’s over thirty. Yet, Martin handles the role well and we get a couple of really nice scenes between him and Bogart. Their final scene together is especially well handled by Director Wyler, and it earns both men a great deal of sympathy that they really don’t deserve.

Arthur Kennedy plays Deputy Sheriff Jesse Bard, the lawman who makes it his personal mission to track down Bogart. There is a subplot about Bogart and Kennedy having some history together that’s never fully explored, which is a shame, but perhaps it was fleshed out in the play. Kennedy does very well here as he plays a cop obsessed with one of his former collars, and it was great to see him again after playing a smaller role in High Sierra.

Robert Middleton plays the third escaped con, Sam Kobish, and I’m amazed by how much he was able to grow on me by the end of the film. As if three escaped cons isn’t enough conflict for a script already, Director Wyler finds ways to amp up the film’s tension by constantly finding new opportunities to make Middleton seem more and more unstable as the film goes on.

Mary Murphy and Richard Eyer play the Hilliard children, Cindy and Ralphie respectively, and both do a solid job of holding up their ends of the script. While neither is given too much heavy lifting, they’re both a testament to how important younger actors can be to supporting an older cast.

Gig Young plays Mary Murphy’s lawyer love interest, Chuck Wright. As I mentioned before, the age difference here is perhaps too disparaging to forgive, but Young does fine regardless.

Classic Bogie Moment

I still hold fast that no other Classic Hollywood actor was able to convey so much with so little – especially in regards to their facial expressions. In this still below, we see the very second where Bogart’s escaped con starts to crack just a bit under the pressure. It’s not a huge moment. He could have chosen to really go for the grimace or even scream, but instead, we get just the hint of desperation begin to appear in his eyes.

Desperate classic The Bottom Line

If you’re like me, and you’ve waited this long in life to catch this film – don’t wait any longer!

Breakdowns and Blowups

Breakdowns

My Review

—Some Good Chuckles and Lots of Great Personality—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

1 Bogie

The Lowdown

Outtakes from some of Hollywood’s greatest films with many of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

What I Thought

So apparently every Christmas, Warner Brothers would host an employee party and one of the treats was a special blooper reel cut together from the year’s previous films. The notion of “outtakes” is nothing new to modern day cinema enthusiasts, as many current DVD’s actually include deleted and flubbed takes as bonus content. Some comedies even include them in the closing credits.

So what’s so special about these? Quite a bit, actually.

Unused film was rarely kept – or kept in well condition, so anything that hit the cutting room floor in Classic Hollywood often also ended up in the cutting room trash can. Add into the mix that professionalism and preparedness was a coveted commodity among actors, and the outtakes from the Classic Hollywood era have a much different feel and tone to anything we’ll see as bonus content nowadays.

Especially during Bogart’s run, World War II put the squeeze on money and supplies for the entire country, Hollywood included, so film stock was too valuable to waste. With electric power being rationed out and cut off in the evening because of potential air raids, it’s easy to understand that the old adage time is money meant a little more back then. (One outtake from 1949 even includes the director yelling at Danny Kaye, only slightly seriously, about wasting film stock.) As the years go on, the actors and crews seem to loosen up quite a bit.

Many of the bloopers in these collections involve angry cursing from the actors after flubbed lines. “Goddamn it!” and “Son of a bitch” seem to be the two favorite epitaphs of most of the actors. Save for some light hearted actors like James Cagney, none of these performers seem all that amused by their mistakes. In fact, the Breakdowns’ editors do most of the comedic heavy lifting as they add in occasional sound effects (raspberries and goofy bells), and play around with the footage at the expense of the actor’s performance.

If I had to hazard a guess, the modern advances in film technology that have brought us into the digital age are a big factor in what’s made current day outtakes so readily available, and apparently more enjoyable from the actor’s point of view.

Not must sees by any stretch of the imagination, but getting to hear Jimmy Stewart say “Son of a bitch. . .” in that soft and simple laid back manner will make you glad you gave these Breakdowns a watch.

The Bogart Factor

His most enjoyable outtakes for me were from 1938’s Swing Your Lady, where he actually seems to be enjoying himself despite the mistakes.

From what I could tell, here’s a rundown of the films that Bogart outtakes appear from:

Breakdowns of 1936Bullets or Ballots, and Two Against the World

Breakdowns of 1937China Clipper

Breakdowns of 1938 – Swing Your Lady

Breakdowns of 1939 You Can’t Get Away with Murder, Dark Victory

Breakdowns of 1940 – The Roaring Twenties

Breakdowns of 1941 – ­ The Wagons Roll at Night

Breakdowns of 1942 The Big Shot

Breakdowns of 1944 – To Have and Have Not, Conflict

Blowups of 1946The Big Sleep

Blowups of 1947 Key Largo

Blowups of 1949 – Key Largo

The Petrified Forest, High Sierra, and a couple other Bogart films are featured sans Bogart flubs.

The Cast

Barton MacLane cracks up just as angrily as the characters he plays on screen!

Edward G. Robinson seems to be one of the few classic era actors that could have a little fun with a mistake, adding his own little raspberry sound to the end of flubs.

Bette Davis always seemed so composed in her Bogart collaborations that it’s kind of fun to see her lose her cool once in a while.

Allen Jenkins shows up in more than a few of the shorts, and I’ll never complain about getting to see some extra Jenkins! In the 1937 edition, enjoy watching him get goosed by an ironing board . . .

James Cagney is the one that really steals the show in most of these. Nearly every time he goofs up, he gives the camera a mischievous little smile as if he’s enjoying his outtakes more than he should! Plus, his waltz with George Raft when they should be fighting is so charming that it might just knock Raft up a few pegs on your likability meter.

Pat O’Brien comes second only to Cagney in having a pretty jocular attitude towards his line flubs, laughing most of them off. In the 1940 edition, it’s hard not to love the guy when he makes fun of his own toupee falling off!

Ronald Reagan . . . “Well that goddamned thing locked again.” Nuff said.

All I can say about Ann Sheridan is that if I would have been alive during her heyday, it would have wrecked me, wrecked me I tell ya, that I couldn’t have her. What a gal. So cute. So funny. All right, I need to go find a Sheridan film to pop in right now.

Jimmy Stewart has my favorite moment from any outtake when he slowly turns towards the camera after flubbing a line in Breakdowns of 1941 and says, “Son of a bitch . . .” So crazy to hear those words come out of his mouth in such a wonderfully resigned and cynical manner! Almost as good is his reaction after a scene in which the camera follows his exit when he wasn’t aware of it.

Director Edmund Goulding has a wonderful outtake as he slips into Joan Fontaine’s wardrobe for just a bit to show her how to act in Breakdowns of 1942.

Also appearing are George Brent, Paul Muni, Alan Hale, Miriam Hopkins, Claude Rains, Barbara Stanwyk, John Garfield, Gary Cooper, Fred MacMurray, Errol Flynn, Wayne Morris, and even Bogie Film Blog favorite Ben Welden! Plus, many, many more.

Danny Kaye will win you over and make you laugh in less than three seconds, guaranteed, in outtakes from 1949’s The Inspector General.

Classic Bogie Moment

Just try and tell me that this little moment of levity from a Key Largo outtake doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart:

Untitled

The Bottom Line

Lots of fun for any fan of classics.

The End Breakdowns