Richard Brooks


Birth Name: Reuben Sax

Date of Birth: May 18, 1912

Date of Death: March 11, 1992

Number of Films that Richard Brooks Made with Humphrey Bogart: 3

The Lowdown

When I started The Usual Suspects portion of the blog, I thought that it would be a great way to give folks a resource on some of Bogart’s best and more regular collaborators. (Did you like Peter Lorre in Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon? Well, you should definitely check him out in All Through the Night!) Yet, Richard Brooks is a real anomaly to The Usual Suspects formula as the two films in which Brooks directed Bogart could not be more different.

On the one hand, you have the melodramatic journalism boiler Deadline U.S.A. On the other, you’ve got the M*A*S*H prequel and dramatic rom-com Battle Circus. To Brooks’ credit, his history as a writer, journalist, and war filmographer reveal both of these films to make perfect sense for his talents. But the shift in tone might make it hard to grasp that the same director did both films.

Brooks met Bogart after the actor showed interest and respect for Brooks’ homophobia-in-the-military book The Brick Foxhole, and they became lifelong friends who spent a lot of time together on and off screen – even sharing a fateful trip to Washington D.C. to help other Hollywood luminaries fight the rise of McCarthyism.

I’m a big fan of all three films that they collaborated on together, and I’m happy to add Brooks to The Usual Suspects today!

The Filmography

Key Largo – 1948

Key Largo Pic

Brooks is given a writing credit here in a film that I don’t think has a single wrong note. It’s claustrophobic, emotionally overwhelming, and occasionally explosive. Bogart and Edward G. Robinson finally reverse roles when it comes to who get the upper hand at the end. Bogart and Bacall smolder. Robinson gets a great opportunity to shine in his post-popularity with plenty of great monologues. Bogart gets to play the antihero who almost waits too long to save the day. What’s not to love?

You can read my original post on the film here.

Deadline U.S.A – 1952

deadline usa

There’s no rush here as Writer/Director Richard Brooks takes us inside The Day, a fictional big city newspaper run by the last honest editor in town. The story is laid out for us piece by piece, leaving no doubt as to where it will end up, and for a crime drama done skillfully, that’s a good thing. If you enjoy against-the-clock journalism films like All the President’s MenThe Paper, and Spotlight, you’ll surely enjoy this one.

Bogart was right in the midst of his Hollywood vs. McCarthyism fight, and Director Brooks has gone on record about how much of a toll it all took on Bogie. No one plays stoic and world weary nearly as well as Bogart does, and Brooks takes full advantage. Bogart’s character of journalist “Ed Hutcheson” doesn’t seem that far removed from the aging and pessimistic man that Brooks has described personally, and the portrait of newspaper editor past his prime is played wonderfully full-tilt here.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Battle Circus – 1953

Battle Circus Poster

And here we have an entry into into the Brooks/Bogart filmography that doesn’t quite match up to thier two previous collaborations.

I’m a huge fan of June Allyson, but the chemistry between her and Bogart doesn’t click as well as it needed to for the film. Plus, Director Brooks can get a little lost in the minutia of the hospital’s daily grind. But I do think that this film is far more watchable than critics have said, and I’ve rewatched it happily several times.

It’s certainly the most lighthearted of the three films that Brooks and Bogart did together, and Brooks’ previous journalism and war experience is what really shines here. Could they have paired a more compatible actress with Bogart? Sure. Could they have given the plot a little more gravitas and a little less cutesy-love stuff? Perhaps, but I’d argue that with June Allyson in the mix, it would have been nearly impossible.

You can read my original post on the film here.

* ‘The Usual Suspects’ is an ongoing feature at The Bogie Film Blog where we highlight some of Bogart’s most celebrated costars. You can read the rest of the posts in the feature here. *


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