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 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’s 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 like 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 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 Red 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

 

 

 

 

I Am an American – 1944

I Am an American Title Card

My Review

—Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss the Stars—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

Sliver of a Bogie

 

 

Just a SLIVER of Bogie here . . .

Director: Crane Wilbur

The Lowdown

A Polish couple immigrates to the United States and sires generation after generation of children who all enlist and serve in the US military from the Civil War on through World War II.

What I Thought

While the story plays out like one of your typical Rah! Rah! Go America! Hollywood shorts meant to bolster American morale and sympathies towards our military men and women, there is a deeper theme on display here. Director Wilbur Crane is really lifting up the countless foreign immigrants who came to the United States only to spend the rest of their (often short) lives, defending the freedoms that they immigrated to enjoy. Even after losing their limbs, or even lives, in various wars, the descendants of these immigrants would go on to defend Lady Liberty out of a deep debt of gratitude to both their ancestors and their country.

At just around 16 minutes it’s a short watch, and it won’t come close to filling out a night of entertainment, but there’s a little more substance here than in some other WWII shorts of the time. It should also be noted that all of the Hollywood stars listed in the credits appear for only a fraction of a second in archival footage as they spoke for fundraising events. Dennis Morgan’s speech does seem to be recreated for this short, though.

The Bogart Factor

I didn’t officially time it, but I’m going to guess that Bogart’s on screen for less than two seconds here. He’s giving a speech about the war effort and there’s no audio, so he really contributes nothing to this film other than his name.

The Cast

Gary Gray plays one of the Polish descendants, Thomas Jefferson Konowski. Nearly all of the acting is done here with voiceover narration, so there’s not a lot to be said about the performances. I couldn’t find any source that listed who played the original Polish couple that immigrates.

Danny Kaye, Joan Leslie, Knute Rockne, Dennis Morgan, and President Woodrow Wilson also appear as themselves. Morgan gets a decent chunk of time in what appears to be a green-screen recreation of a war rally event where he’s speaking.

Jay Silverheels shows up as a Native American!

Classic Bogie Moment

Not much to see here folks – so I’ll give you his cameo in its entirety:

Bogart Classic I Am an American

The Bottom Line

I guess if you’re a fan of war effort shorts, this one’s not bad. Otherwise, this one’s not even for Bogart completists.

 

 

 

 

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid – 1982

Deadmenplaidposter

My Review

—A Must See for Any Classics Fan—

Your Honorary Bogie Cameo Fix:

Bogie Cameo

 

 

Director: Carl Reiner

The Lowdown

A private detective (Steve Martin) stumbles across an evil organization while investigating a man’s death.

What I Thought

It’s been at least fifteen or twenty years since I’ve seen this one, and I have to say that my appreciation for the film has grown immensely. This is primarily because I’ve now seen almost all of the classic films referenced within the film in the last two decades.

Using clips and splicing in footage from nineteen different films from the Classic Hollywood era (including a trio from Bogart – The Big Sleep, Dark Passage, and In a Lonely Place), Director Carl Reiner and leading man Steve Martin have assembled a spoof/parody/homage of the early 30s and 40s Film Noir detective movies. Using over the shoulder shots, intercutting phone conversations, and actually inserting Martin into the train scene from Suspicion with Cary Grant, a large number of classic era stars take on new roles as friends and enemies of Martin’s no-nonsense private eye.

Is the footage used seamlessly? No. The stock used for the classic films looks much more aged and sometimes dimmer than the modern day shots, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how well the dialogue works, and how much fun Martin and Director Reiner seem to be having with writing and re-writing a script as they go along to make all the famous clips fit. Any fan of classic films will have a blast trying to pick out which clips come from which films.

Being a spoof, the real question here is, Is it funny? If you’re a fan of Steve Martin’s comedy films from the 80s (and how could you not be?) you’ll think it’s hilarious. There’s plenty of clever highbrow mixed in with try-not-to-laugh lowbrow humor. Martin’s in the prime of his comedy career and his timing is flawless. And seeing some of Hollywood’s greatest legends taken out of context will bring more smiles, chuckles, and outright laughs than you can imagine.

Among the classic actors appearing from film clips are Ingrid Bergman, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Cary Grant, Veronica Lake, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyk, and Lana Turner – as well as Hollywood’s number one star – Humphrey Bogart, and many others.

The Bogart Factor

Although footage is also used from Dark Passage and In a Lonely Place, Bogart is playing Phillip Marlowe from The Maltese Falcon. The catch? Instead of being the top dog in his detective agency, Bogart now seems to be the subordinate lackey for Steve Martin’s subdued and cynical private dick.

There’s a funny bit about Bogart not wearing a tie, but most of the Bogie magic comes from his scenes in Falcon when he’s on the phone – therefore giving Martin ample opportunity to make it seem as if he’s on the other line with the great detective. Supposedly there’s a great deleted scene that was added back for television where Martin gives Bogart a verbal dressing down for being an old fogey as the new generation of private eyes is taking over, but my $5.00 Walmart discount bin copy didn’t contain any extras, so I’m going to have to seek out the alternate version.

The Cast

Steve Martin plays private eye Rigby Reardon. Interviews quote Martin as saying that he didn’t want to watch any classic films before he performed so that he wouldn’t “act like Bogart,” but you can still see quite a bit of influence in his portrayal. The comedy works here because Martin plays even the most outlandish situations deadpan straight – unlike The Jerk where his over-the-top performance is what generates most of the laughs.

Rachel Ward plays the femme fatale here, Juliet Forrest, who hires Martin to find out why her father died and also serves as the main love interest. Ward has a classic look and acting style that could have easily fit into films from the 30s and 40s, but as this one’s a comedy, almost all of the character development takes a back seat to achieving laughs. She’s good here, but doesn’t have a ton to work with.

Carl Reiner appears as the villain Field Marshall VonKluck, and I won’t ruin too much about the end by going into his involvement with the plot, but rest assured, everything you love about Reiner’s wit and acting style is here.

Reni Santoni has a small, but hilarious part towards the end of the film as a South American policeman who is dead set on making sure Martin has clean pajamas.

And I’d be remiss not to mention that this was the last film that acclaimed costume designer Edith Head worked on. Head’s career spanned decades back to the Classic Hollywood era, where she even worked on In a Lonely Place with Bogart!

Classic Bogie Moment

Okay, so Bogart wasn’t actually in the scene here, but it’s nice to know that the world’s greatest hard boiled detective has a sensitive side! Who knew that Marlowe was such an accomplished cross stitcher?

Marlow Crosssticth Marlowe Cross Sticth 2

The Bottom Line

If you’re a comedy fan, classics fan, or Bogart fan, this one’s well worth it!

 

 

 

 

Racket Busters – 1938

Racket Busters Poster

My Review

—Ugh—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

1 Bogie

 

 

 

Director: Lloyd Bacon

The Lowdown

A truck driver (George Brent) has to rally his fellow drivers when a gangster (Bogart) threatens to turn their union into a mob controlled racket.

What I Thought

Let me sum this one up for you quickly to save some time:

A brave man stands up to a gangster. The gangster starts hurting people. The brave man instantly caves and joins the gangster’s racket. One of the brave man’s friends dies. The brave man returns . . . a little too late in my opinion . . . and finally saves the day.

Director Lloyd Bacon is by no means a shoddy director. Working with Bogart on seven different films – Marked Woman, San Quentin, Racket Busters, The Oklahoma Kid, Invisible Stripes, Brother Orchid, and Action in the North Atlantic – this film is by far the weakest out of all of their collaborations together. And that’s saying something, considering how maligned The Oklahoma Kid has become for casting Bogart as a black hat villain against James Cagney’s white hat good guy. (Although, in the spirit of full disclosure, I really, really liked The Oklahoma Kid.)

The main problems with this film are firmly rooted within the script. It’s pretty hard to root for a hero that abandons his friends until they start to get beat up and die. Maybe if they’d stopped short of actually killing Brent’s friend and mentor played by George O’Shea – you know, maybe just put him in a coma – our sympathies for Brent’s heroic revival might have been achievable.

As it is, I found it very challenging to root for Brent at all. I was just waiting for someone, including his main gal, played by Gloria Dickson, to stand up and shout, “Uh, thanks! But where you a few days ago when everyone wasn’t injured or dead?”

Am I being too hard on this film? Maybe. Maybe I’m just sore because Bogart is used in only the most basic and bland ways as the lead villain. But this one sure seems like a big misstep between an actor and a director that worked pretty well together.

The Bogart Factor

Playing gangster John ‘Czar’ Martin, this isn’t a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part for Bogart, but it’s not much more. He makes a brief appearance every once in a while in order to boss his goons around, but I’d be shocked if any of his scenes here last more than forty-five seconds.

Considering that this is another one of his tough-as-nails gangsters, you would think that it’d be a slam dunk to let Bogart do some of the heavy lifting with the beat downs and the gunplay. Instead, I think the most dramatic scene that he’s involved in before the final shootout involves a massage table and some snarky dialogue.

This one’s not a must see for anybody.

The Cast

George Brent plays Denny Jordan, our main truck driving protagonist. It’s no fault of Brent’s that this one is a lemon. He showed us some good stuff alongside of Bette Davis in Dark Victory and In This Our Life, but the script here completely fails him. On a positive note, he does a great job pulling off a more blue collar role than I’ve seen him in before.

Gloria Dickson plays Brent’s wife, Nora, and that’s about all you really need to know about this underwritten role.

Allen Jenkins is one of the few bright spots in the film, playing another trucker, ‘Skeets’ Wilson, who opens up his own tomato company during the trucking racket controversy. Still, the writers weren’t able to give a guy as amazing as Jenkin’s more than one or two mild laughs.

Bogie Film Blog favorite Penny Singleton plays Jenkin’s wife, Gladys. She’s another small bright spot in the film, but her part’s even smaller than Bogart’s.

Oscar O’Shea plays the truck driving foreman, Pops. O’Shea comes out the best here, as you’ll like his character so much by the time that he dies that you’ll want to give up on the film just for being so cruel. Yes, small spoiler there. But you need to prepare yourself for one of the dumbest script choices in Bogart’s filmography.

Fifteen time Bogart collaborator John Ridgely shows up for a tiny role as a truck driver who calls Brent “yellow.”

Classic Bogie Moment

There’s very little to pick from here, but Director Bacon has a mildly creative crime montage where Bogart is superimposed in the background, smoking and smirking. I guess it’s kind of interesting:

Racket Buster Classic

The Bottom Line

For Bogart completists only.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – 1948

Treasure Poster

My Review

—Arguably One of Bogart’s Best—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

5 Bogie

 

 

 

Director: John Huston

The Lowdown

Two down-on-their-luck men (Bogart and Tim Holt) pool their resources with an old prospector (Walter Huston) to search for gold in Mexico.

What I Thought

There are so many great stories to be told in and around this film that it’s hard to know where to begin.

This had been a passion project for Director John Huston for over a decade.

Ronald Reagan was supposedly considered for the role of Cody, the broke and desperate prospector who complicates things for Bogart, Huston, and Holt.

Both father and son Huston won Oscars for their work.

The film was based upon a novel by an eccentric author, B. Travern, who was offered a high paying job as an advisor for the film but refused – only to supposedly appear onset pretending to be his own “associate” who worked for much less.

It was the most expensive film that Warner Brothers had ever produced up to that point, and despite his angry attempts to reign in the budget and schedule, Jack Warner considered it one of the best films ever made by the company.

I love the film from beginning to end. Director Huston had a wonderful way of bringing out the best in his actors, and the triangular dynamics between each of the three main actors works on so many different levels. (This has to be the highlight performance of Tim Holt’s career as he gets to share so much screen time with both Bogart and Walter Huston.) Perhaps one of Director John Huston’s greatest gifts is his ability to create an environment for his characters that allows them to believably flip between sympathetic and villainous from one moment to the next. Could anyone else have played both sides as well as Bogart did here?

The ultimate story though, is that this is Walter Huston’s film to steal. Playing the angel to Bogart’s devil upon the shoulders of Tim Holt’s everyman, Huston is pitch perfect. Anyone who can steal virtually every scene that he’s in, especially when he’s alongside of one of Bogart’s most crazed roles, deserves as much credit as they can get. Bogart wisely eases back and let’s Huston shine, giving the older actor room to anchor the entire film.

And in my second big disappointment at a fictitious cameo (the first being Bogart’s supposed appearance in In This Our Life), despite being listed for a cameo in this film, Ann Sheridan does not appear as a woman walking past a storefront as Bogart exits. It’s clearly a Hispanic actress, and no, I don’t think that the makeup effects of the time could have transformed Sheridan that much. How do these rumors get started?!?

I can’t imagine that too many Classic Film fans or Bogart devotees haven’t seen this one yet, but if you’re one of them, get on it!

The Bogart Factor

While I wouldn’t consider Bogart’s portrayal of Fred C. Dobbs to be quite as evil as some reviews have made it out to be, there’s no doubt that this is one of the most darkly realistic characters that he ever played. Slowly consumed by greed, Dobbs is a man that is primed and ready for something to send him over the edge.

And yet the tightrope that Bogart and Director Huston are able to walk here with Bogart’s likability is pretty astounding. Even after attempting to murder Tim Holt, we watch – and continue to hope – that Bogart will somehow make it through his final desert journey and evade the bandit Goldhat one more time in order to claim his fortune. Dobbs is the good friend that we all know and continue to root for despite the fact that he occasionally makes some really despicable life decisions. It’s the same likability that Bogart brought to so many of his earlier criminal roles, and to the cynical loners later in his career that refused to stick their necks out for anyone.

How drastically different would this film be if someone other than Bogart had been cast as Dobbs? Perhaps someone more typically villainous? Having all three main characters start out as protagonists on equal footing lends a powerful punch to the film’s climax and the final moments between Walter Huston and Tim Holt.

While it’s not my absolute favorite Bogart performance, I don’t argue too hard with people who do claim that it’s his best. It’s certainly got to fall within the top five for me.

The Cast

Tim Holt plays Curtain, the generous-to-a-fault partner to Bogart as they head out in search for gold. I absolutely loved Holt here, and I’m a little surprised that this seems to be the biggest film in his career. He’s listed on IMDB for Stagecoach, and I’ve seen Stagecoach more than once, but doggone it if I don’t remember exactly who he is in that film. It’s a testament to Director Huston’s ability to find greatness in his actors that Holt is so good here. By the end, you’ll want to see a sequel made just so we can see if he fulfills the challenge that Walter Huston gives him in their last scene together.

Walter Huston plays Howard, the older and more experienced prospector that helps Bogart and Holt find a fortune in gold. The word “superb” doesn’t do enough to describe his presence here. Especially take note of the wonderfully gentle scene where he revives a drowned little boy in front of an entire village. He’s the friend, father, grandfather, and mentor that everyone wants but will probably never find. His final moments with Holt in the film are painful and hilarious at the same time. Both Hustons find a way to take a tragic circumstance and spin it into a great deal of hope.

Bruce Bennett plays Cody, a desperate and hungry prospector who stumbles upon the main trio of gold hunters. The last time I watched Bennett in a Bogart film, I thought that he was underused and underwritten in Dark Passage. Before that, he had a small but solid role in Sahara. Here he gets a great chance to shine as the man who threatens to ruin the three protagonist’s plans. Did I really find myself wishing they’d bump Bennett off so that they wouldn’t have to share their loot? Maybe . . . but I’ll just chalk it up to Director Huston’s skill at making me sympathize with characters that have bad intentions.

Bogie Film Blog favorite Barton Maclane appears here as McCormick, a less than reputable foreman who cheats Bogart and Holt out of their wages. It’s a chance for Maclane to be a bit more blowhard and a bit less tough than how we usually see him in Bogart films, and it all leads to a great great bar fight between Maclane, Bogart, and Holt.

Robert Blake makes a small appearance as a boy who sells Bogart a lucky lottery ticket!

Classic Bogie Moment

Tell me you don’t see just a bit of ‘Duke’ Mantee here:

Treasure Classic

Hands at hips, raised just enough to make us think that he’s ready to either draw a pistol or strangle someone.

The Bottom Line

Put it on a 24 hour loop and let it run. It’d be a few months before I’d get tired of it . . .