Raymond Massey

Massey Action in the North Atlantic

Birth Name: Raymond Hart Massey

Birthdate: August 30, 1896

Number of Films Raymond Massey Made with Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Lowdown

A veteran of the Canadian Army from World War I and World War II, Massey had a long and distinguished career in film and television – and even achieved the honor of having a drink named after him in his hometown of Toronto, Ontario! (A ‘Raymond Massey’ is comprised of 5 ounces of Champagne, 2 ounces of Canadian Rye Whiskey, and ½ ounce of Ginger Syrup. Shake the whiskey and syrup over ice, remove the ice, and add the champagne. You’re welcome!)

It’s funny to me how many different ways people seem to remember Massey. Whether it was one of his multiple portrayals of Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Gillespie on Dr. Kildare, Anton the Spymaster on I Spy, or Jonathon Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace, Massey’s furrowed brow and distinctive jowls have created countless fond memories for fans of Classic Film and Television.

It’s great to know that Bogart and Massey were good friends off screen. Stephen Bogart has a great anecdote in Bogart, In Search of My Father where Massey hides in the Bogart’s bathtub along with several other friends to surprise Bogie on Christmas Eve for his birthday. Only sharing the screen with Bogart twice, Massey played father figures to Bogart both times, albeit with two very different motivations.

The Filmography

Action in the North Atlantic – 1943

Massey Action in the North Atlantic 3

Massey plays Captain Steve Jarvis, commanding a Merchant Marine tanker with Bogart as his second in command. Both men share a very good-natured relationship here as Massey gently nudges Bogart to step up for more responsibility in his life while Bogart repeatedly advises Massey that times are changing and sailing the seas is a young man’s game. Perhaps the best part of the whole film is Massey’s onscreen marriage to Ruth Gordon. Every moment that they’re together is wonderful and their brief scenes alone are worth giving this film a chance! You can read my write up on the film here.

Chain Lightning – 1950

Massey Chain Lightning

Massey plays Leland Willis, the man in charge of the aviation company that’s building planes designed by Richard Whorf and flown by Bogart. Massey is about as close to a bad guy as we get in the film as he helps fuel Bogart’s ambitions, indirectly crushing Whorf’s dreams and driving a wedge between the two friends. Massey is just subdued enough in his greed and determination that it’s an uncomfortably realistic portrayal of a driven entrepreneur who’s begun to lose sight of the human cost that can come at the expense of big business. You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Usual Suspects is an ongoing series on The Bogie Film Blog that highlights some of Bogart’s regular collaborators. You can find the rest of the write ups here.

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