Alan Hale

Hale action 2

Alan Hale with Johnnie Pulaski in Action in the North Atlantic

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Birth Name: Rufus Edward MacKahan

Birthdate: February 10, 1892

Number of Films Alan Hale Made with Humphrey Bogart: 4

The Lowdown

Probably like most folks from my generation, I learned of Alan Hale’s son, Alan Jr., long before I knew of the talented and distinguished character actor himself.

Hale’s legend seems to grow greater for me every time I dig a little deeper. He studied opera, invented folding theatre seats, starred as Little John alongside of Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, and John Derek in three different Robin Hoods, directed as well as acted, was great friends with Errol Flynn, and fathered the one and only Skipper for goodness sakes!

It’s impossible to see Hale in a film and not enjoy every moment. Larger than life, good natured, and wonderfully talented, Hale will forever be remembered as one of Classic Hollywood’s best character actors, and a member of ‘Warner Brother’s Stock Company.’

Along with Frank McHugh, Alan Hale was one of the actors that I was most excited to (re)discover while putting posts together for this blog.  While he barely shared any screen time with Bogart, Hale was definitely part of the glue that held several of his films together.

The Filmography

Virginia City – 1940

Hale Virginia City

Hale with Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams

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Alongside of Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Hale plays one of Errol Flynn’s sidekicks, Olaf ‘Moose’ Svenson. Hale, Williams, and Flynn are Union soldiers trying to root out an underground shipment of gold headed for the Confederate army. I loved Hale in this film, as he and Williams create so much of the comic relief that it’d be an entirely different movie without them. It’s a true showcase of how to use supporting actors to elevate the quality of a script. You can read my original write up on the film here.

They Drive by Night – 1940

Hale Raft They Drive by Night

Hale with George Raft . . .

Hale plays Ed Carlsen, the fun loving and hard drinking owner of a trucking company that hires George Raft after a trucking accident. Ed’s the trucker who made good, finally opening his own company, and it’s a crime – A CRIME, I TELL YA! – when his onscreen wife, Ida Lupino, bumps him off. What kind of monster thinks that it would be a better world without Alan Hale?!? It’s insanity in its purest form! Hale is so doggone likable in this film, that it’s a wonder any truck driver in this world wouldn’t want to work for him. Sharing some great scenes with both Raft and Lupino, Hale gets to do what he does best – joke, laugh, shout, drink, and love. It’s my favorite Hale/Bogart collaboration out of all four films, and it really gives Hale a chance to show how great of an actor he really was! You can read my original write up on the film here.

Action in the North Atlantic – 1943

Hale action

Hale at the Deployment Office with Some of His Crew

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Hale plays ‘Boats’ O’Hara, one of the crewmen under Bogart’s command as they survive a German U-Boat attack during WWII. Hale gets some great time to shine as he holds the ship’s crew together, leading by bravado and example while they wait to get redeployed. The scene where Hale plays cards with his shipmates in the deployment office is one of the strongest in the film, and this one’s a must see for Hale fans who like both the comedic and dramatic sides of the character actor. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Thank Your Lucky Stars – 1943

Hale and Carson

Hale with Jack Carson

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Hale does a song and dance routine with Jack Carson in this film about a variety show fundraiser. Singing “Going North,” we get to hear just a glimpse of Hale’s very solid singing voice, and it really makes me wish that I could hear him sing some of the opera that he trained for when he was younger. Plus – he dances! And he does it very well! For a big guy, he’s very light on his feet as he trots around the stage with Carson, clearly enjoying himself. While it’s only a short scene in the film and he’s never together with Bogart, this one’s a must see for Hale fans, as we don’t get the typical goofball lummox that he played quite often in movies. You can read my original write up on the film here.

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9 thoughts on “Alan Hale

  1. I’ve always liked Alan Hale! (Being an Errol Flynn fan, I ended up watching a lot of Hale as well, during my repeated viewings of Robin Hood.)
    My fave quotable line of his from They Drive By Night is the following (accompanied by raucous laughter): “Early to rise and early to bed, makes a man healthy, but socially dead!” 😉

    • I didn’t know until I was doing the research how well Hale and Flynn apparently got along together. It seems like an odd pairing of friends to me, but then again, both guys were supposedly a lot of fun to be around, so I can only imagine what those parties were like!

      • This reminds me that there’s quite a bit about Hale in Flynn’s autobiography, ‘My Wicked, Wicked Ways’ – I remember he says that other stars used to be frightened of having Hale in their films because they thought he would steal the picture. I know a lot of the book isn’t true, but I suspect that bit might be!

  2. Like Vienna, I love Hale with Cagney in ‘The Strawberry Blonde’ – he’s also a lot of fun with Cagney in ‘Captains of the Clouds’ (not a great film, but absolutely gorgeous Technicolor!) and great with Barbara Stanwyck in ‘Stella Dallas’ . Really an actor who gives such a lot of quality to every film – amazing to see that he has a list of almost 250 acting credits at the imdb, though many of them were early silents which are now lost.

    Must admit I’ve never come across his son at all – ‘Gilligan’s Island’ is more or less unknown in the UK, as I think only a few episodes were ever shown here in a couple of regions. Anyway, enjoyed your posting and I’m glad to hear you like Hale so much.

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