Birth Name: Spencer Bonaventure Tracy
Date of Birth: April 5, 1900
Date of Death: June 10, 1967
Number of Films Spencer Tracy Made with Humphrey Bogart: 1
Before anyone comments that I’m bending the rules a bit for this admission into The Usual Suspects, let me just state that this one’s being awarded an Honorary Entry into the pantheon for a number of reasons…
First – I’ve been wanting to revisit Up the River since my first viewing to see if I still like it as much as I did the first time. (I do – even more so.)
Second – The two legends became such close friends during their careers that Tracy and Katherine Hepburn would end up being regular visitors during Bogart’s last days before he passed.
Third – Whether truth, Hollywood legend, or somewhere in between, both men supposedly considered working on the film The Desperate Hours together with Tracy in the Frederic March role. What stopped them? Well, if you can believe it, they couldn’t agree on billing. Now, this seems like a pretty petty reason for two best friends not to star together so I’m not sure if I buy into the reason 100%. Could it be true? I suppose. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a more practical reason like scheduling or management. Perhaps it was a story they liked to tell about how close they came to working together. Who knows?
Regardless – their sole costarring role is worth a look for anyone who’s a fan of either leading man. It’s on YouTube, but there’s slightly cleaner version on DVD you can get through Netflix.
Up the River – 1930
In his first full-length starring role, Tracy plays Saint Louis, a charming gangster that ends up in prison with Bogart’s down on his luck prison clerk, Steve Jordan. Both men have big parts, and unlike most of Bogart’s other films with mega co-stars, they play good friends! (Despite the fact that Tracy still takes every sly opportunity he can just to make sure Bogart’s love interest wouldn’t rather make a switch every time Bogart’s not around…)
Spencer is cute, easy going, ornery, lovable, and seems to be enjoying himself greatly as he wisecracks his way through the film. Bogart appears less green than he will in subsequent films and has some wonderful scenes with love interest Clare Luce.
The film is a bit choppy as it’s missing a few seconds here and there. None of the plot is lost though, and there are too many good reasons to see this classic to skip it!
You can read my original post of the film here.
*The Usual Suspects is an ongoing section of the blog where I highlight some of Bogart’s more regular collaborators. You can read the rest of the write ups here.*