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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – Ashley’s Take!

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*Bogie Film Blog: While I have my “Classic Bogie Moment” for each film, Ashley has her “Humphrey Bogart Eyes Moment.” I like it. I like it a lot. It’s one of those terms that once you hear it, you can never forget it. Now every time I watch a Bogie film, I’m picking out “eye” moments left and right. The man knew how to use the subtlest of facial expressions to hold the camera, and those eyes were powerful. So today, I drop you mid-post again, so make sure you click on over to Ashley’s blog to finish it, then check out her Twitter and Letterboxd profiles! The gal LOVES film, and she’s a great follow!*

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The Humphrey Bogart Eyes moment in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre came when Bogart’s Dobbs first sees the gold he and his team found. After struggling for so long, all Dobbs can think of is that he has asked a passersby for money for the last time. Dobbs is sure that he will never have to struggle again, as long as he can get home with his share. Almost simultaneously, Dobbs also becomes incredibly paranoid that his team is going to outwit him and crush the dreams he has for his fortune. The paranoia and euphoria captured on Dobbs’ face as the gold is weighed is the perfect Humphrey Bogart Eyes moment of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, as only Bogie could capture it.

Head on over to Ashley’s blog to read the rest here!

*Ashley’s Take is part of the Take 2 series here on The Bogie Film Blog where we have guest writers give us there take on a classic Bogie film! You can read the rest of the entries here.*

Michael Curtiz

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Birth Name: Mihaly Kertesz

Birth: December 24, 1888

Death: April 10, 1962

Number of Films Michael Curtiz Made with Humphrey Bogart: 8

The Lowdown

Ask the casual Classic Film fan about John Huston or Howard Hawks and more than likely they’ll be some recognition. More than likely, Bogart’s name will come up. Huston and Hawks – those are household names if you’re in the Classic Film realm.

Now mention Michael Curtiz. There still might be some recognition from the casual fans. CasablancaWhite Christmas? Maybe if they’re a little more literate about the early years of Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” they might mention Yankee Doodle Dandy.

But the Hungarian born director is so prolific throughout Hollywood history that it’s hard to imagine his name is rarely spoken outside of intros on TCM.

Curtiz crossed the boundary between the silent films and talkies. At 38 years old and with 64 films already under his belt, Curtiz was finally lured over to the U.S. by Harry Warner in 1926 where he would work with some of Hollywood’s greatest actors – Grant, Cagney, Davis, Flynn, Crosby, Kaye, Crawford, Bergman, Lorre, Greenstreet, Huston, Muni, DeHavilland, Sheridan, O’Brien, The Dead End Kids, Bacall, Bogart, etc… many household names.

As far as Bogart was concerned though, Curtiz was always on the shortlist of directors that were pre-approved. Yes, they fought a lot on set – settling character arcs and plot developments with shouting matches while the cast and crew waited, but there was great respect there as well.

I feel like Bogart and Curtiz complimented one another, making up for what the other lacked. Curtiz hailed from the European school of film where complex camera moves with lots of dollies were the norm. Bogart was from the states where Film Noir taught directors and actors to keep it simple, get to the point, and let the actors do the heavy lifting. Perhaps more importantly, Curtiz cut his teeth in silent films, and few actors beyond Bogart knew how do so much with simple gestures and subtle facial expressions.

Bogart and Peter Lorre reportedly loved pranking Curtiz on both Casablanca and Passage to Marseille. My favorite stories are from Passage where the two actors would stall scenes with long and jokey anecdotes until Curtiz would finally laugh and then they could carry on.

For a man who was alongside of Bogart throughout his entire career – from the early B roles to the biggest film of Bogart’s life, to the lighter role of Joseph in We’re No Angels, it’s about doggone time that Curtiz was placed into The Usual Suspects!

(And I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that Curtiz also directed Doctor X! The sorta prequel to Bogart’s only venture into sci-fi/horror, The Return of Doctor X!)

The Filmography

Black Legion – 1937

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Curtiz is listed as an “uncredited” co-director here alongside of Archie Mayo, so I’m not exactly sure what his contributions to the film were. Considered by many to be one of Bogart’s biggest hidden gems, Black Legion is a must-see for anyone who likes Bogart’s better character work. Occasionally there will be a movie that is very well made, and yet so gut-wrenchingly powerful that I just can’t imagine sitting through it again. Schindler’s List was this way for me. So was Mystic River. I would easily add Black Legion to that category. Loosely based on a true story, Legion took me places emotionally that I wasn’t used to going in a Bogart film.

Bogart plays a blue collar machinist who’s frustrations and paranoia take him to an ugly, ugly place, and Directors Mayo and Curtiz do a great job of squeezing every drop of tension from this one.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Marked Woman – 1937

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This is another “uncredited” director role for Curtiz alongside of Lloyd Bacon. Bogart might get second billing on the poster, but in reality, he’s fourth or fifth down the line when it comes to screen time. Bette Davis is the real star here, and she does a good job in, but the script leans heavily on extravagant melodrama. The ripped-from-the-headlines tone of the film is almost too clichéd in this day and age to have the same impact that it did in the 30’s and 40’s. There is plenty to appreciate in this film though, as the cast has been put together well, and it’s always fun to see Bogart and Davis looking so young in their roles. Davis is as bright-eyed and gorgeous as she ever would be, and Bogart has got the healthiest, most filled out physique that I ever remember seeing on him.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Kid Galahad – 1937

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This was the first full collaboration between Director Curtiz and Bogart, and it was a bit of a tepid start in my opinion. It’s a by-the-numbers Warner picture for the time it was made. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. It’s predictable, but fun. Robinson and Davis definitely save the day with their great portrayals, turning it into an enjoyable film. Bogart’s relegated to being the stock gangster character.

What sets the film apart though, is Director Curtiz’s ability to direct the the boxing scenes with explosive action and a skill that was surely honed in his silent days.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Angels with Dirty Faces – 1938

Angels with dirty faces

At one time, this Curtiz directed film was one of the biggest gaps in my Bogart/Classic Film knowledge. Does it live up to the hype? For the first hour – no. Not that I thought it was bad, because it’s actually very good. James Cagney and Pat O’Brien are great. Plus, there’s a good dose of Ann Sheridan, which is always a good thing!

I just didn’t think it was as good as everyone had told me. Up until the last fifteen minutes of the film I was ready to rank this one just below The Roaring Twenties. The script is good, but not great. Director Michael Curtiz does a fine job, but it’s a far cry from Casablanca. And then there’s the fact that Bogart is hardly in the film despite high billing and lots of presence in the advertising.

Then I got to the ending . . . wow.

Without giving anything away (in case you’re also behind on seeing this film), Cagney’s final scene is so powerful that I was still reeling from it two days after watching the film. The movie certainly didn’t have to end the way it does. It could have gone with a more audience-friendly finish. Yet Curtiz, Cagney, and O’Brien take what was a good film and elevate it to great with just the last fifteen minutes.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Virginia City – 1940

Virginia City Poster

Virginia City is a fun, old-school western with great performances by all the actors (save for a VERY poorly cast Bogart), and plenty of tension to keep you hooked until the end. With a running time of slightly over two hours, Director Michael Curtiz probably could have shaved off about twenty minutes with a few less horse chases and saloon scenes, but that’s a small complaint to have in an otherwise good film.

I thought Curtiz did a great job of making both sides of the conflict over the gold seem sympathetic. Heck, I was even rooting at points for Bogart’s painfully-accented Hispanic outlaw!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Casablanca – 1942

Casablanca Poster

The film that cemented Bogart’s legacy! If this had been his final film, I have no doubt that he’d still be the icon that he is today!

I think a majority of the credit has to go to Director Curtiz. From beginning to end, the city of Casablanca feels like a fully realized world. The daytime scenes are crammed from one edge of the screen to other with bustling streets. The nighttime scenes are packed with diversely populated clubs. The city is supposed to be overflowing with people looking to escape the war and Director Curtiz nailed it. This film is bursting at the seams with background artists, minor roles cast to perfection, supporting roles with some of Hollywood’s greatest character actors, and a handful of main characters that are handled deftly and given the time that they each need to establish their moments in the story.

Why do I need to defend what some argue as Hollywood’s greatest film?!? You can read my original post on the film here.

Passage to Marseille – 1944

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This one’s a real showcase for Director Curtiz. Marseille is a film that exists almost entirely in a flashback. But not just a flashback – as it’s a flashback within a flashback, which I think even delves into another flashback! Just the way the multiple flashbacks are handled without confusion shows a director who’s storytelling craft is top notch.

The entire movie is said to be a slightly missed attempt at recreating the magic that was Casablanca, as so many of the cast and crew return from that movie including director, writer, composer, producer, and at least five other actors. Perhaps I’m far enough removed from the era, but I thought that my love for Casablanca only enhanced my enjoyment of this film. The story is much more action oriented, and it comes off as more of a prison escape movie rather than a war romance.

You can read my original post on the film here.

We’re No Angels – 1955

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The last of eight films between Director Curtiz and Bogart, Angels is subtle, dry, a bit goofy, and a wonderful movie for these two collaborators to go out on. In a story of three escaped convicts, Curtiz uses Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray to underplay the jokes so well that this film can often near the line of “dark comedy,” although I don’t think it ever steps over.

It’s silly, wonderful fun in the best possible sense. Plus! You get to see Bogart in an apron! Come on! That makes it a must see in itself!

You can read my original post on the film here.

‘The Usual Suspects’ is an ongoing feature on the blog that highlights some of Bogart’s best collaborators. You can find the ever-growing list of names here.

Lloyd Bacon

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Birth Name: Lloyd Francis Bacon

Date of Birth: December 4, 1889

Date of Death: November 15, 1955

Number of Films that Lloyd Bacon Made with Humphrey Bogart: 7

The Lowdown

The son of an actor, Lloyd Bacon would follow in his father’s footsteps into vaudeville before moving on to act in silent films, and then finally directing some of Hollywood’s greatest legends on the big screen.

From all reports, Bacon was an incredibly capable director who could work well with actors, bring a film in on time, and stay within the allotted budget. From performing stunts, to acting on the stage, to being in front of and behind the camera, Bacon spent a life learning the craft of film making, and while he wasn’t known as a flashy or incredibly famous director, Warner Brothers saw him as more than able to handle a long string of films in many different genres.

Bacon’s work with Bogart alone saw films with gangsters, cowboys, lawyers, prisoners, monks, and navy seamen. No, none of the films they collaborated on are remembered as classics, but almost all of them hold up as a decent pictures in their own rights. Bogart was supposedly happy to work underneath him as a director, so that tells you a lot right there!

There is a line in the Sperber/Lax Bogart bio that says Bacon directed Bogart seven times before their final film Action in the North Atlantic. Researching on my own, I only have them working together seven times in total, so if anyone has any info on whether or not this was a mistake in the bio, let me know!

But today, let’s welcome Lloyd Bacon into The Usual Suspects!

The Filmography

Marked Woman – 1937

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This one’s really grown on me over time. Part of the that is a growing appreciation for some of the other actors in the film (Ben Welden, Bette Davis, Mayo Methot, etc.), part is the appreciation that I now have for Director Lloyd Bacon. Warner Brothers used Bacon for several “ripped from the headlines” films, including this one, and Bacon comes off as a good, straightforward, meat and potatoes director who gets the job done.

Loosely based on the fall of gangster Lucky Luciano, there is plenty to appreciate in this film. The cast has been put together well, the script is tight, and it’s always fun to see Bogart and Davis looking so young in their roles. Davis is as bright-eyed and gorgeous as she ever would be, and Bogart has got the healthiest and most filled out physique that I ever remember seeing on him.

You can read my original post on the film here.

San Quentin – 1937


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Almost all of the ingredients are here for a great film– great actors, capable director, great cinematographer, etc. – but the one thing lacking is an interesting script. Through no fault of Pat O’Brien, Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, or Joe Sawyer, there’s just not much excitement or drama to be had in this film. Everyone seems to be sleepwalking through their parts, especially O’Brien, who was more than capable of carrying a good role if he got one.

Perhaps it’s the fact that O’Brien’s Captain Stephen Jameson is just written too blandly to evoke any sympathy. His range of emotion shifts back and forth between mildly uncomfortable and slightly content. Perhaps it’s the fact that every time some real motivation for drama occurs, all the tension is quickly let out of the scene with a few lines of dialogue that wraps up any conflict before it takes off.

Bacon’s direction feels a little more loose here, especially in some of the final chase scenes that could have been tighter.

Am I being too hard on the film? Maybe. I’ll check it out again sometime, but it is a great showcase for regular Bogart collaborator, Joe Sawyer!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Racket Busters – 1938

Racket Busters Poster

Let me sum this one up for you quickly to save some time:

A brave man stands up to a gangster. The gangster starts hurting people. The brave man instantly caves and joins the gangster’s racket. One of the brave man’s friends dies. The brave man returns . . . a little too late in my opinion . . . and finally saves the day.

I thought this was the weakest collaboration out of all of work that Bacon did with Bogart. The main problems with this film are firmly rooted within the script. It’s pretty hard to root for a hero that abandons his friends until they start to get beat up and die. Maybe if they’d stopped short of actually killing George Brent’s friend and mentor played by George O’Shea – you know, maybe just put him in a coma – our sympathies might have held out.

There’s a reason this one is harder to find! You can read my original post on the film here.

The Oklahoma Kid – 1939

Kid Poster

If you’re any sort of regular reader here on the blog, you know that I’ve written about this one numerous times. Should Cagney and Bogart have played cowboys. No. Should we still enjoy the film? Yes! It’s actually not half bad! Add into it that Cagney and Bogart have an awesome fight scene at the end, and it’s well worth your time! You even forgive the fact that it’s pretty obvious when the two icons switch places with their stunt doubles.

This film will show you two things about Director Bacon. First – he could helm a Western pic with great skill. Second – his work as a stuntman really shines through in his directing here!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Invisible Stripes – 1939

Invisible Stripes

The cast of George Raft, William Holden, Jane Bryan, Flora Robson, and Bogart is are a very good ensemble, and all the character relationships really crackle – especially Raft and Robson who give us most of the heart in this film. Director Bacon handles them so well, especially in the quieter, character building moments of love and loss with Raft’s family. Raft’s final line to Robson is so subtly done that I almost missed it, even though it’s an incredibly heart wrenching moment.

I can see why this movie might not have gotten the most glowing reviews. The story of an ex-con trying to go straight had been done so many times before this that it must have felt like old cliché. Bogart does his absolute best with the role that he’s given, but he’s underused, and a young William Holden still seems a little green as it’s only his fourth film. All that aside though, the film is entirely watchable and keeps the drama and action chugging along at a pace that held my interest even on multiple viewings.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Brother Orchid – 1940

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This one’s a comedy crime drama that can’t quite seem to decide whether it wants to be more comedy or more lighthearted drama. While you don’t get a great Bogart fix, Director Bacon does get a lot out of Edward G. Robinson and the wonderful Ann Sothern.

The standout of the film for me, Sothern has a wonderful moment in the film during a scene after she hangs up on a phone call with Robinson. She slowly sits back in her seat, lightly biting her bottom lip. Director Bacon and Sothern do a great job with that small moment of satisfaction.

Plus, it’s the only movie, out of the five that they made together, that neither Robinson nor Bogart dies!  You can check out my original post on the film here.

Action in the North Atlantic – 1943

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My favorite film from their collaboration, this one is probably most notable for Bacon as he was dismissed with a quarter of the filming left due to the fact that he couldn’t agree on a new contract with Warner Bros. He was replaced by Byron Haskin, but you don’t notice any obvious shift in the final act.

Although it could easily be considered a WWII propaganda film, Action in the North Atlantic does a fine job of transcending the clichéd patriotism that we might expect from a film like this, and gives us a lot more character depth and nuance than most propaganda films can muster.

Bacon makes some bold choices in direction – especially in regards to some longer scenes on the German U-boat where the viewer can go several minutes only hearing German. There is clearly a lot of trust on the part of Director Bacon that we’ll be able to understand the gist of the scenes even though no English is used, and it works well. The scenes effectively elevate the tension as the viewer begins to understand a little German shorthand for what’s going on with the Nazi sailors.

Again, attributing all the directorial choices to Bacon may not be a safe bet as he was replaced by Haskins, but since he directed a majority of the film, I’ll give Bacon as much due as I can!

You can read my original post on 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.*

The Attorneys

Marked Woman

*Character Reference is an ongoing segment of The Bogie Film Blog where we dissect the different recurring genres and characters from Bogart’s filmography. You can find the rest of the entries here.*

The Lowdown

Bogart played every angle on both sides of the law during his career. Petty criminal. Gang Boss. Convict. Corrections officer. Private Eye.

And yes, even a lawyer a few times.

An actor who could play good or evil with equal ease, the role of an attorney fits Bogart just like any other. The suits are a little less flashy, the dames don’t fall for him as hard, and nobody gets plugged, but doggone it, Bogart knew how to play a crusader who fought for justice at any cost.

While none of Bogart’s attorney films probably rank in your “Top 10 Bogie Movies of All Time,” they are all three worth a watch. I would even consider one of them a rarely talked about gem.

The Attorneys

Marked Woman – 1937

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Bogart plays Assistant District Attorney David Graham, the man trying to capture and convict a powerful mob boss who’s running a ring of high-priced “hostesses” at nightclubs, among other nefarious illegalities. Bette Davis is one of the “hostesses” in question, trying to stay out of trouble from both Bogart and the mobster as she makes her way through life.

Bogart is still pretty young, even letting his previously over-used gangster accent slip out a bit when he tells his nemesis, “I’m going to indict you for moider!” Overall though, he gives a strong performance as the lawyer who’s pulled himself up by his bootstraps from his own dark past to make sure that justice is served.

Bogart might get second billing on the poster, but in reality, he’s fourth or fifth down the line when it comes to screen time. While it’s fun to note that the roles of criminal and do-gooder have now switched between Bogart and Davis since Petrified Forest, I didn’t feel that the same tension and chemistry between the actors was there.

There’s a great moment when Davis enters Bogart’s office in a desperate moment of need that rings with a bit of Maltese Falcon-ness with Bogart coolly sitting behind his desk as the lady pleads for help.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Knock on Any Door – 1949

Knock On Any Door Poster

Bogart’s wonderful here as Defense Attorney Andrew Morton, the man set to defend a young hoodlum (John Derek) that’s accused of killing a cop.

He has some great scenes as he attempts to mentor his young client, and it’s a lot of fun to see him battling it out in the courtroom with the District Attorney (George Macready) in a battle of wits as they attempt to sway the jury over the young defendant’s life. Bogart’s personality and presence are so strong, he could probably convince a jury that the sun only rises at night if he worked hard enough.

Quiet, reflective, occasionally torn and brooding, Bogart plays this one close to the chest and it works. I loved the fact that he didn’t initially want to take the case, but was sort of guilted into it by his girlfriend (Candy Toxton). This worked in the film’s favor as at several points, Bogart’s reluctance is conveyed through the doubt he carries about his client.

This one’s definitely worth a look. You can read my original post on the film here.

The Enforcer – 1951

Enforcer

My personal favorite attorney role from his filmography, Bogart is Assistant District Attorney Martin Ferguson. Ferguson is a man in desperate need of sleep when the movie opens, and even more desperate need when it wraps up. The key witness in the biggest trial of his life just died and he has to spend all night going over the evidence to find a new lead on a gangster (Everett Sloane) that’s about to walk free.

Ferguson and his right hand man, Captain Frank Nelson (Roy Roberts), reopen the case from the beginning, and we the viewers get to flashback to the first moments that the gangster’s men slip up, and the crime syndicate flashes onto ADA Ferguson’s radar.

Imagine an extra-long episode of Law and Order, except the cast is made up of classic Hollywood actors. It’s a murder mystery who-done-it in which we get to watch Bogart track down one lead after another, only to find out that every new witness he needs has just turned up dead.

There’s also a nifty twist at the end, that I’ll admit, I should have seen coming. But twist endings weren’t as common in classic Hollywood, so I wasn’t expecting it! It’s not my fault, see! The clues were there but I wasn’t paying close enough attention! I’ll wager that even if you do see it coming, it’ll still be pretty satisfying – I’ll say no more just in case you haven’t seen it yet!

This one’s a must see, and an underrated gem in my opinion. You can read my original post on the film here.

*Character Reference is an ongoing segment of The Bogie Film Blog where we dissect the different recurring genres and characters from Bogart’s filmography. You can find the rest of the entries here.*

Stars in the Air Presents: The House on 92nd Street – 1952

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Honorary Radio Bogie Fix:

radio-fixes-2 out of 5 radio Bogies.

The Lowdown

There are a couple mildly good reasons to listen to this broadcast –

First of all, you’ve got Betty Lou Gerson playing the role of Elsa. Anyone who’s a fan of classic Disney films will recognize that name as the original voice of Cruella De Vil. She’s very good in her role and gets to play – get this – a dastardly accented villainess!

Second, based on the true story of William G. SeboldThe House on 92nd Street is actually a very compelling piece of United States history where blind luck led the FBI into stumbling upon a group of Nazi spies sending info back to Germany.

The bad news is that this highly abridged version of the Twentieth Century Fox Film is cut so short that it’s hard to follow the story. Add into the mix that it can become a little tedious and mundane with the heavily fact-loaded narration, and it’s probably worth a listen only if your a Bogart completist.

Long story short, the FBI (which has to be pronounced at every turn as if it’s the most prestigious organization in the world) sends a man undercover to bust some stateside Nazis. Things get hairy. There’s a bit of a twist ending. The Nazis get what’s coming to them. And, oh! By the time this one’s over, you’ll never want to hear the phrase “pointed patent leather shoes” again.

Again, unless you’re an Old Time Radio die hard who just can’t get enough of Bogart, you should probably stick with the film, or even a trip into history with the real story.

The Bogart Factor

Relegated to mostly narration work, Bogart plays Inspector Briggs, the FBI man in charge of the undercover agent who’s sent into to spy on the Nazis. He’s fine, although he doesn’t have much to work with. You’d be better off popping in The Enforcer if you want a good dose of Bogie the lawman.

The Cast

Keefe Brasselle plays Bill, the undercover man for the FBI. Brasselle probably has the most to work with here as far as the script goes, but he’s still hampered by the abridged running time.

Betty Lou Gerson is your stereotypical German ice queen, Elsa. You know what, though? If you’ve got to hear a villain, it might as well be Cruella De Vil, right?

The Bottom Line

I think I’ve said it all. Although, broadcast in 1952 after Bogart’s Oscar win for The African Queen, it is fun to hear a war bonds commercial in the middle about holding onto your bonds as long as possible rather than the usual ramble about buying them!

 

Great Performances – Bacall on Bogart – 1988

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Honorary Bogie Fix:

5 Bogie

Director: David Heely

The Lowdown

Clips, interviews, stills, and personal memories are given by the woman who knew Bogart the best – Lauren Bacall.

What I Thought

With interviews from John Huston, Richard Brooks, Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn, Julius Epstein, and Lauren Bacall herself, this is surely the definitive Bogie TV bio that any casual-to-hardcore fan would love.

I think what I enjoyed the most was the time spent on some of Bogart’s lesser known films. While many books and TV bios gloss over a lot of his early duds, Bacall takes a moment to comment on, and even show clips from, films most people aren’t acquainted with. She even spends a little extra time on my personal favorite cult classic, The Return of Doctor X.

For sure, the biggest treat here is Lauren Bacall’s on and off screen narration. The woman is as beautiful and captivating as ever, and that smoky voice is more-than-easy to listen to as she segues between her own personal reflections, interviews with Hollywood legends, and clips of Bogart’s work.

I covered A&E’s Biography on Bogart a few days ago, and this one’s as much of a heavyweight history lesson as that one was an entertaining afternoon diversion. Clocking in at just over an hour, what makes this one so much deeper and informative is obviously the involvement, guidance, and knowledge of Bacall.

Insider perspective on Bogart’s family, early frustrations, behind-the-scenes hi jinks, behind-the-scenes fights, behind-the-scenes love affairs, personal war on McCarthyism, and painful death is powerful and pointed along every step of the way. Perhaps the most telling moments come at the end as Katherine Hepburn recalls her final moments with Bogart after a visit with Spencer Tracy. It was the last time that they saw their good friend alive, and if it doesn’t make your eyes water, you have no business being a Classic Film fan.

The Cast of Interviewees

This one is all about Lauren Bacall as she very proudly leads us through the life of the man she loved. There is a great deal of admiration and loyalty on display, and the word “classy” just does not do Bacall justice on her work here. It’s a great piece of Bogart’s legacy to leave behind for the world.

I’ve mentioned Katherine Hepburn above as she really steals the show, but this is also a WONDERFUL treasure trove of personal insight from some of the collaborators that shaped Bogart into the man we love – Director John Huston, Actress Ingrid BergmanCasablanca scribe Julius Epstein, and Actor Van Johnson.

The Bottom Line

Bacall’s involvement makes this one a must see for anyone who likes the real stories behind Hollywood icons. If only every star had someone to take such great care of their legacy after they passed.

 

Deadline U.S.A. – Ashley’s Take!

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*From the Bogie Film Blog – Okay, folks! I’m gonna drop you off in the middle of another one of Ashley’s posts! Loved this ‘Classic Bogie Moment’ that she pulls out! Then head over to her blog and finish this post, read her other posts, and find her on Twitter and her Letterboxd site! Thanks again, Ashley!*

The Humphrey Bogart Eyes moment happens when Bogart has dinner with his ex-wife, who he is still trying to convince to come back to him.

humphrey-bogart-eyes-deadline-usa

Nora shares with him her desire to be “enough” for someone. She knows she will never be enough for Hutcheson because he is constantly consumed by the paper. The second time he is pulled away from their dinner to answer an urgent phone call is proof enough for Nora, and she leaves the restaurant before he returns from his call. The look that Bogart’s eyes emote in the moment that he realizes he may have lost the last chance with his one true love is absolute perfection. Anyone that has ever suffered a broken heart knows that this Humphrey Bogart Eyes moment is a perfect illustration of the pain in his heart at that moment.

Check out the rest of Ashley’s post here!

*Ashley’s Take on Deadline U.S.A. is part of the “Take 2” section here at the blog where other voices from around the web add a little extra flavor to The Bogie Film Blog. You can check out other “Take 2” voice here.*

The Jack Benny Show – 1947

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Honorary Bogie Radio Fix:

5 radio

The Lowdown

Jack Benny and his crew flash back 24 hours to show how Benny blew his chance to work with Lauren Bacall on his radio show.

What I Thought

I remember listening to this one several years ago, but apparently I never put up a post for it! It’s a real treat, and there are some great actual laughs to be had.

Benny spends the first half of the show with his regulars, Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, and Don Wilson. It’s exactly what you’d expect from Benny, with an extra dose of jokes about the recent Rose Bowl from just a few days before the broadcast. They make fun of Don about his weight. They make fun of Dennis about his crush on Mary. They make fun of Benny for being cheap. Nothing too surprising here, but there is a wonderful moment where Mary breaks character during the early moments of the show when talking about Day’s crush, and it’s a wonderfully cute moment for the always entertaining Livingstone. Day also gets a chance to sing I Love You for Sentimental Reasons.

The real meat of the show comes in the second half when Mary forces Jack to explain why Lauren Bacall isn’t going to be on the show. Cue a flashback to the day before, and we have one of the funniest Bogart radio cameos I’ve heard in a long time. Rochester finally makes his appearance in the broadcast as he banters with Benny for a bit before ushering in Bacall.

Benny wants to seduce Bacall so he asks to reenact the “You know how to whistle, don’t ya?” scene from To Have and Have Not. But guess who walks in just before he gets to the kiss? Again, it’s just a large cameo here for Bogart, but it’s a stellar use of his public persona. Bogart reenacts the scene himself, complete with kiss, until Benny finally stops him. The real treat though, comes when Mary enters and Bogart then rehearses the scene with her as well – complete with a kiss so long that it sends Benny into full meltdown mode.

Great stuff by a great cast. We get less gangster and more romantic playboy from Bogart this time around.

The Bottom Line

Check this one out. Other than the Rose Bowl jokes, it holds up well, and it’s one of the funniest Bogart radio appearances out there.

Nicholas Ray

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Birth Name: Raymond Nicholas Kienzle

Date of Birth: August 7, 1911

Date of Death: June 16, 1979

Number of Films that Nicholas Ray Made with Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Lowdown

According to the Sperber/Lax Bogart bio, Director Nicholas Ray “had an affinity for pictures about the disaffected…” Collaborating with Bogart on the back end of the icon’s career, and also during what some may argue as the most disaffected portion of the actor’s artistic and political life, Ray was there to capture Bogart on screen in a way that was more deeply personal than any other director in his filmography.

The more I read on Ray, the more I’m in awe. The man lived a Forrest Gump-like life in the best possible ways, collaborating over his career with such varied talents as Frank Lloyd Wright (they parted over politics), Elia Kazan, Alan Lomax (a personal hero as I listen to his work daily), Woody Guthrie, and even the great James Dean among many others. Perhaps best known for his work with Dean on Rebel Without a Cause, what a tragedy it is to hear that they’d planned to collaborate on more films together before Dean’s untimely death.

While Ray and Bogart worked together twice, the bigger story might be all the times they almost worked together but fate intervened. Bogart wanted to do a version of The Old Man and the Sea with Ray directing. (Bogart best friend Spencer Tracy would go on to film it a year after Bogie’s death.) Ray was also in the mix to direct Beat the Devil at one point. (How DIFFERENT would that film be with the emotionally charged director in the power chair?) And Bogart also talked with Ray on another project, The Ferry Boat Story, that never came to fruition because Bogart decided to make The Caine Mutiny.

Regardless, we do have two wonderful films in which they worked together. I’m more than elated to place Director Nicholas Ray into The Usual Suspects today!

The Filmography

Knock on Any Door – 1949

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Knock on Any Door was the first movie produced by Bogart’s film production company, Santana, and I would have to say that it was a great film for Bogart’s crew to start with – despite the fact that neither Director Ray nor Bogart were satisfied with the final results.

Based on the bestselling book by Willard Motley, Bogart handpicked Ray after being impressed by his directorial debut in They Live by Night. There have been reviews written that accuse this film of doing some over-the-top grandstanding, preaching on the dangers of social injustice. I couldn’t disagree more. How our country treats the lower class is most definitely not a black and white issue, and I think Director Ray makes sure to leave us on an authentic moment of uncertainty at the end of the film. People that we might consider “bad guys” aren’t always bad guys. Heroes we look up to sometimes make life and death mistakes. Knock on Any Door is less a movie about our country’s war on poverty, and more a film about our societal struggle with the flawed criminal justice system.

Bogart’s wonderful here as attorney Andrew Morton. I’ve read more than a few blogs and reviews that compare his final courtroom scene here to his ending moments as Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny. I would agree with that on a lot of levels, but the role of Andrew Morton is much more restrained as it builds towards the big speech at the end. And while both men are essentially breaking down emotionally, Morton’s scene is more of an emotional breakthrough – something that Director Ray was so incredibly deft at handling.

You can read my original post on the film here.

In a Lonely Place – 1950

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An emotional punch in the gut, Director Nicholas Ray reportedly wrote many of the relationship scenes between Bogart and costar Gloria Grahame based on his own failing marriage. As you can guess, this film is good with tension.

What is so interesting to me about this film is that it raises questions about the responsibility that society bears on handling the behavior of unstable people. Bogart’s Dixon Steele has proven to be a valuable member of society with a lot to contribute to the arts. He could have continued to thrive during his personal struggles with the proper support from their peers. Ray though, crafts a story in which we get to watch Steele systematically tumble one step after another into a deep state of rage and distrust for those around him, finally sabotaging his personal relationships and career.

Good, good, good, good film. You can read my original post on 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.*

 

Ray Enright

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Birth Name: Ray Enright

Date of Birth: March 25, 1896

Date of Death: April 3, 1965

Number of Films that Ray Enright Made with Humphrey Bogart: 3

The Lowdown

Ray who? Okay, settle down. Before anyone throws a hissy fit, just take a deep breath and realize that Director and Editor Ray Enright was the type of guy that kept Warner Brothers rolling. Were his films giant colossal hits? Not really. But on many weekends, when there was nothing huge in the theater, people could often relax and enjoy a musical, a romantic comedy, or a Western directed by Enright.

I’ll also admit that one of his Bogie collaborations – Swing Your Lady – is in my “Top 3” guilty pleasures of Bogart’s filmography. But more on that later.

Born in Indiana and raised in L.A., Enright started as a cutter in Hollywood before taking a break to serve in World War I, and then returning to Warner Brothers to cut for two more years before becoming a director. I’ve done a little research on what exactly a “cutter” is, since it seems to me that if Enright had strictly been an editor, it would be listed that way. The cutter appears to be an assistant position alongside an editor on a film that works on some of the more manual tasks of physically cutting the film and rearranging scenes according to the editor’s desires.

Yes, Bogart has been quoted as saying that Enright directed his “worst” film (again, we’ll get to that later…), but come on. . . there are a handful of real doozy’s out there. To claim that any of the three films Enright was a part of were the “worst” is kind of stretching it. (A Holy Terror, anyone???)

Enright was also the director who was inadvertently involved in Bogart being suspended from Warner Brothers after the actor balked at starring in the Enright directed Western, Bad Men from Missouri. According to the Sperber/Lax Bogie bio, the actor returned the script with “Are you kidding–?” written on the cover.

All that said, Enright is a multi-time Bogart collaborator. The man worked with everyone from Rin Tin Tin to Joan Blondell to Randoph Scott. And I personally love one of his flops. Hey! I’m in charge here! The man goes into The Usual Suspects! If ya got a problem with that, and you wanna get slapped, come on over and complain about it!

The Filmography

China Clipper – 1936

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There was a moment about fifteen minutes into this film where I thought I might have found a real hidden gem. China Clipper isn’t widely available to watch or purchase, and I was just getting ready to write my complaint email to Warner Brothers when I suddenly understood the lack of enthusiasm behind the film.

The problem comes about midway through. Star Pat O’Brien seems to hit the peak of his character arc and just kind of flat lines. He learns his lesson on why he shouldn’t abuse his friends, family, wife, and coworkers, and he makes his apologies. Unfortunately, there’s still a good forty minutes left in the movie and the character apparently has nowhere left to go. Not only that, but whatever growth supposedly took place is quickly ignored as he reverts back to old habits, except now we’re supposed to be sympathetic to the same plight that alienated him from everyone who loves him.

This is a rare melodramatic turn for Director Enright who tended to go for lighter fare. If you like to watch repetitive shots of an airplane flying through clouds, maybe you’ll like the ending better than I did, but once O’ Brien’s character began to lose steam, I did too.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Swing Your Lady – 1938

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Ronald Reagan. Frank McHugh. Nat Pendleton. Penny Singleton. Allen Jenkins. Come on! You can give this one some grace, can’t you?

For all of the horrible things that I’d heard about this movie, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as its reputation. It’s got a 4.5 user rating on IMDB and that seems unfairly harsh. Perhaps my expectations were so low that anything would’ve seemed better than the horror that I expected. I watched this one late at night in a hotel and enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought the DVD.

This film is much more along the lines of Director Enright’s usual fare of goofy characters, stretched out plots, and light love stories. Bogart is Ed Hatch, a traveling professional wrestling promoter who’s trying to break into the big time at Madison Square Garden.

Fortunately, what the movie lacks in plot coherency, I thought it actually made up for in charm. Do Bogart’s small town intentions make sense? In the long run, nope. Are a few of the characters a little over-caricatured? Oh, yeah. But every one of them was able to squeak out at least one or two laughs from me. There are some fun musical numbers (another Enright-ism) and enough comedic actors packed in to make it worth at least one viewing. Come on, people! Let’s get those user ratings up for this one!

And to be fair, Warner Bros agreed to give Bogart a raise if he agreed to to this one. So, worth it, right? Okay, sure, it bombed at the theaters – but some critics of the time liked it!

You can read my original post on the film here.

The Wagons Roll at Night – 1941

Wagons Roll at Night Poster

So . . . this one might have been in trouble from the beginning as the name for the film was changed from Carnival to The Wagons Roll at Night to try and cash in on that really popular “at/by night” theme that worked so well with They Drive by Night. You know how audiences turn out in droves to see films that take place at night, right?

Director Enright does a good job working the camera angles and cutting the film in such a way that it’s easy to forget Eddie Albert, Sig Ruman, and Bogart were rarely (if ever, in some cases) in the cage with the lions. It’s these life-or-death situations that lend an extra dose of gravitas to the film.

It’s important to note that Warner Brothers got some flack for making a movie that seemed to be a real retread of a previous Bogart film. You might find that understandable if you take just a second to consider this plot –

An entertainment promoter replaces his top drawing performer with an untrained yokel. The promoter’s girlfriend then ends up falling for the yokel and believes that he might be falling for her as well. Due to outside circumstances, the yokel has to disappear for a while until some trouble simmers down and ends up staying at the farm where the promoter grew up. While at the farm, he ends up falling in love with the promoter’s sister and it eventually leads to a life or death scenario for several of the characters involved . . .

Sound familiar to you Bogart die hards? It should. As it’s the exact same plot for both 1937’s Kid Galahad as well as 1941’s The Wagons Roll at Night. Replace boxing with the circus, Edward G. Robinson with Bogart, Bette Davis with Sylvia Sydney, and Wayne Morris with Eddie Albert, and Wagons is practically identical. (To carry the comparison to completion, you also have to replace Kid Galahad’s Bogart with The Wagons Roll at Night’s man-eating lion. Pretty even swap, if you ask me.)

Still, despite the similarities, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Yes, we lose Robinson and Davis, but Sylvia Sydney does fine, and Eddie Albert might even be an ever-so-slight step up from Wayne Morris’ stiff amateur boxer. The change of locale is really what helps this film distinguish itself from Galahad, as the excitement of the circus life and the action with the lions adds an entirely new element of tension to the story.

While the stakes in Galahad rest in the possibility of eventual death at the hands of mobsters, The Wagon’s Roll at Night is able to present a much more immediate and constant threat for its protagonist from the hazards of the lion taming occupation.

Is one better than the other? Well, if I had my druthers, I’d always prefer to keep Robinson and Davis in the equation with Bogart, but overall I found The Wagons Roll at Night to be a more re-watchable film. More than likely that’s because Bogart got top billing and appears in a majority of the scenes – but entertainment wise, I think this one has an edge over its boxing predecessor.

You can read my original post on 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.*