Morris with Jane Bryan and Bogart in ‘Kid Galahad’
Name: Bert DeWayne Morris
Birthdate: February 17, 1914
Number of Films that Wayne Morris made with Humphrey Bogart: 4
My first Wayne Morris film was Kid Galahad, and I have to admit that it wasn’t an auspicious start for my journey through his Bogart collaborations. But the more I see Morris on screen, the more he grows on me. Typically playing goodhearted, albeit slightly dim, hunks, Morris had a chance in his all-too-short life to stand against some of Hollywood’s greatest legends before suffering a fatal heart attack at the very young age of 45.
With a promising leading man career ahead of him, Morris left Hollywood behind to follow a passion in flying that led him to receiving great honors for his service in World War II. After the war, Morris could never seem to get another big break in A-list films, but he did get one last good movie role opposite Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory. Would it have been enough to carry him back up to a career resurgence? Most likely not, as he spent the next few years before his death appearing in various television Westerns, but it definitely showed that there was more to the good-statured blond than just his looks and his smile!
If you’ve got more interest in Morris and his military service, make sure to check out @HollywoodComet’s write up on him here.
China Clipper – 1936
With Bogart and a few others . . .
It’s a blink and you’ll miss him role (as I did the first time I watched this film) as Morris plays the flight navigator next to Bogart on the Clipper. You could certainly do worse than starring with Bogart and Pat O’Brien in your very first film, right? You can read my original write up on the film here.
Kid Galahad – 1937
With Harry Carey
Morris plays the title role of Kid Galahad. He seems a bit stiff and dopey, but it was still fairly early in his career, and the script didn’t give him a lot to work with. But the moment Morris smiles on screen, you can’t take your eyes off of him! I can see why the studio thought that he had potential as a leading man. Plus, he gets to slug Bogart, steal Bette Davis’ heart, and work alongside of Edward G. Robinson. This had to have been a big thrill for the young actor as he went toe-to-toe with so many great Hollywood stars. You can read my original write up on the film here.
Men are Such Fools – 1938
With Priscilla Lane
Morris plays Jimmy Hall, the love interest to Priscilla Lane, and unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure what else to even say about his character here. In an incredibly strangely scripted film, we watch characters make a lot of choices without any motivation or reason to back them up. Yet, Morris still comes off as the best part of this movie with his good looks and charm shining brightly, and once again, he gets to knock Bogart flat as they play romantic rivals fighting for Lane’s love. It was heartbreaking to see Morris so likable with so little good material. A better script – even a barely decent script – and this film could have been so much better. If nothing else, you can spend some time enjoying what men’s bathing suits used to look like!
You can read my original write up on the film here.
With Dennis Morgan
I’m an unabashed fan of this cult classic, so it was so much fun to see Morris shine as the Wichita-hick-moved-to-the-big-city reporter, Walter Garrett. He’s bumbling, affable, naïve, and just charming enough to make his character enjoyable to watch. Morris deftly handles the campy comedy and the (somewhat) tension filled moments with grace and ease. Some of my favorite Morris moments:
Morris: (ON THE PHONE, REPORTING THE INITIAL MURDER OF AN ACTRESS THAT SPURS HIS INVESTIGATION) There’s nobody here except a monkey, and he couldn’t have done it!
Is it strange that a washed up actress has a pet monkey? Not to Morris, apparently! Not enough to mention anyways.
And then there’s the scene where Morris’ reporter has to convince Dennis Morgan’s respected surgeon, Dr. Rhodes, to go see if Bogart is really a corpse that’s returned to the land of the living:
Morris: The burial took place at Greenlawn Cemetary. Okay, let’s go out to the cemetery and find out tonight.
Morgan: (SHRUGGING NONCHALANTLY, AS IF JUST ASKED OUT FOR COFFEE) All right.
Yup! Nothing strange about big city reporter and a respected surgeon digging up graves in the middle of night! Nope, typical evening in the big city!
Morris’ relationship with Morgan comes off very much as a precursor to the Mulder/Scully relationship in The X-Files – and I say that as a huge X-Files fan. You can read my original write up on the film here.