The Great O’Malley – 1937

The Great O'Malley

My Review

—Watchable with Solid Performances—

Bogie Film Fix:

1.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: William Dieterle

The Lowdown

An overly legalistic cop (Pat O’Brien) reexamines his life after inadvertently pushing a man (Humphrey Bogart) to commit a robbery.

What I Thought

I’ve really been on the fence about Pat O’Brien. After two films where I thought that he was kind of a cold fish (China Clipper and San Quentin) and one in which I thought that he almost stole the show away from James Cagney (Angels With Dirty Faces), I can now say that I’m officially on the Pat O’Brien bandwagon.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a five-star film by any means, but O’Brien’s portrayal of an uber-legalistic cop that goes just a little too far shows the most relatable character that I’ve seen from him out of all four of his Bogart collaborations. I can see a lot of myself in the guy, actually.

Who doesn’t want the rest of the world to run according to their own rules? Who doesn’t want to be the best at their job? Who hasn’t gone just a little bit overboard trying to hold other people to expectations that no one could live up to? The moment where O’Brien threatens to ticket his own mother for littering (throwing food scraps to the birds) was one of the standout moments for me that, while played for laughs, probably showed a man who would today be diagnosed with severe OCD or even Asperger’s Syndrome.

I also appreciate the fact that Director Dieterle doesn’t go for a completely feel good personality shift in Officer O’Malley, as his change in demeanor comes slowly, bit by bit, making sure to point out that even though O’Malley can appreciate children on an individual basis, he’s not all that good with them in large groups. He’s also not the smoothest with women, as he seems to think that standup, tried-and-true, unwavering chivalry will work in an age when the streetwise fast talking dames (Ann Sheridan) are willing to go toe-to-toe with any man, even a cop.

The Bogart Factor

Down on his luck John Phillips is a small part, and definitely leans towards the two-dimensional side, but again, if you’re going to have to watch someone play a two-dimensional blue collar crook for a few minutes, you can do a lot worse than Bogart! Plus, there’s a glimpse of sweet Bogart madness that seeps out after he’s released from prison and goes after O’Brien when he thinks the cop is badgering him. Not a must-see for Bogart fans, but the film is watchable and has its moments, so you’ll come out even in the end!

The Cast

Pat O’Brien plays the by-the-book cop, Officer James Aloysius O’Malley. With a name like that, can you blame the guy for developing a few glaring character flaws? Not unlike his role in China Clipper, this was a part that could have left him just as unlikable at the end as we found him in the beginning, but the script and director do well enough making sure that O’Brien’s judicious cop gets to learn his lesson and make a few changes. Again, it’s a great performance by O’Brien in a film filled with two-dimensional characters, so in my opinion, he saves the film and pushes it into the “enjoyable” category.

Ann Sheridan plays school teacher Judy Nolan, the woman that tames, teaches, and eventually falls for O’Brien’s stuffy cop. It’s another underdeveloped role for Sheridan, but she’s just so doggone cute and charismatic that it’s clear she did the most she could with the script.

Child actor Sybil Jason plays Bogart’s daughter, Barbara Phillips – the little girl who steals the heart of Officer O’Malley and helps pull him over to the good side. Jason is about as strong here as you could expect a child actor to be, and I have to admit that I laughed out loud every time she referred to her friend Tubby (Delmar Watson) by name. Oh, how times have changed. You give a kid that nickname today and you’d be expelled from school.

There are numerous other solid character actors to mention here, but I’m going to give the last slot to Bogie Film Blog favorite, Donald Crisp. Crisp’s role is small, but very solid, as usual. He plays O’Brien’s commanding officer, and spends every one of his few moments in the film trying to get O’Brien to recognize that a cop needs as much heart as he does brains. If my research is correct, I can now start his write up for ‘The Usual Suspects’ as this is the last film I needed to watch from his Bogart collaborations. Crisp has been so good in every role, no matter how great or how small, and I’m eager to dive into the rest of his filmography.

Classic Bogie Moment

It’s a pretty small part with not a lot to work with, but as always, Bogart finds a way to do a lot with a little. In the scene where he’s convicted to prison, Bogart hangs his head in despair. But if you’ll notice, just below his ears and about an inch forward, his jowl muscles are clenching and releasing, clenching and releasing with anguish – hardly even noticeable. It’s his only movement for several seconds of the film and it adds a painful sense of reality to the moment. While it might be a tiny acting choice, Bogart had an incredible talent for adding little nuances to smaller scenes that most actors would either overdo, or not even bother to think about.

The Great O'Malley

The Bottom Line

This one’s a far cry from Bogart’s best work, but it’s a fine way to pass an evening. Pair it up with Angels With Dirty Faces for a double feature, and spend some time learning to appreciate Pat O’Brien like I did!

Crime School – 1938

Crime School Poster

My Review

—A Mixed Bag— 

Your Bogie Film Fix:

1.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Lewis Seiler

The Lowdown

A gang of inner city youths (The “Dead End” Kids) are sent to a reformatory school that’s in the process of its own reformation when the new Deputy Commissioner of Corrections (Humphrey Bogart) takes over.

What I Thought

This was the first of five collaborations that Director Lewis Seiler did with Bogart, none of which will probably end up being placed in the top 10 of either man’s filmography.  (Although, I’ll contend that It All Came True is a real hidden gem of a comedy).

A remake of 1933’s The Mayor of Hell, the plot, pace, and style of Crime School is also almost identical to another Bogart film that came out just a year before – San Quentin, except now Bogart is in the role of the prison reformer that James Cagney (Mayor) and Pat O’Brien (San Quentin) both previously played.  Crime School is also incredibly similar to another film by Bogart, “Dead End” kid Billy Halop, Gale Page, and Director Seiler that would come out a year later – You Can’t Get Away With Murder, as once again Halop plays a good kid who’s made some bad choices and just needs the right mentoring.  Page would even go on to play the exact same character of an exasperated older sister in You Can’t Get Away With Murder.

So as you’ve probably already guessed, there’s nothing new or groundbreaking going on in Crime School.  That’s not to say it’s terrible – it’s not.  The performances are all decent, the direction is straight forward, and the plot is the “kid friendly” version of what we saw between Bogart and Pat O’Brien in San Quentin.  All that being said, it’s probably not a must-see unless you’re a big Bogart fan, or you really like the “Dead End” kids.

The Bogart Factor

The relationship between Bogart and Halop is by far the strongest asset to this film.  Playing Deputy Commissioner Mark Braden, Bogart is able to pull off a slightly less bland version of a prison reformer than O’Brien was able to.

It is one of the few roles that Bogart’s had where he’s an honest-to-goodness decent and likable guy.  There’s no trace of anger, jealousy, deceit, selfishness, doubt, or dishonesty whatsoever.  It’s nice to see him play such a good character, but at the same time, it kind of sucks all the possibility for any character development right out of the film.  It’s the same complaint I had about O’Brien in San Quentin.  The only difference here, and what I think elevates Crime School slightly above San Quentin, is that Bogart isn’t the main character (like O’Brien in San Quentin) – Halop is.  So we do get to see a somewhat satisfying character arc play out through Halop rather than just watching one person tread water and never change.

The Cast

Billy Halop plays Frankie Warren, the leader of the youth gang that gets sent to the reform school.  Halop is young and green, and it’s another typical “young thug” role for the actor, but he once again holds his own against Bogart.  I still maintain that someone at Warner Brothers was trying to build another B-movie Bogart out of Halop.

Leo Gorcey plays another one of the youth gang, Spike.  Gorcey is the real standout of the film as he gets to play a role that spends much more time in the gray area between good and bad.  It’s a pretty good testament to his acting ability that we can swing between hating him and loving him in the span of the last fifteen minutes of the film.

Gale Page plays Frankie’s older sister, Sue Warren – the EXACT same character she would go on to play a year later in You Can’t Get Away With Murder.  Really?  Another underwritten older sister role?  Page had to have been a little frustrated with the typecasting.  Who knows though, maybe she just loved working with Seiler, Bogart, and Halop.

Cy Kendall plays the abusive corrections officer, Morgan, that Bogart fires and replaces.  He makes a good bad guy, and feels adequately menacing for the role.

Weldon Heyburn plays Morgan’s right hand guard, Cooper, and he’s able to pull off a decent role as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” while spying on Bogart for his old Boss.  I liked him here a lot, but could not get over the fact that he has the exact same voice as Peter Graves.  It’s eerie, I tell ya!

I’m going to lump the rest of the “Dead End” kids together.  Not because they weren’t good, but because they all kind of blend together as their roles aren’t as fleshed out as Halop’s and Gorcey’s.

Classic Bogie Moment

While it was a big part, there wasn’t a whole lot to pick from here as Mark Braden isn’t exactly Bogart’s most colorful role.  But check out this pic below.  Was there anyone who could convey the message of “I’m not impressed” as well as Bogart?  Halop, acting tough and brave, walks into Braden’s office and Bogart plays it as if he’s looking at a younger version of himself – which he sort of is, considering that Halop’s got a character that Bogart played about a dozen times early on in his career:

Crime School classic

The Bottom Line

If you like nice guy Bogart, check it out.  It’s definitely not the worst movie in his filmography, but it’s not a great Bogart fix.

Three on a Match – 1932

3onamatch

My Review

—VERY GOOD—

Your Bogie Fix:

1.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  – Mervyn LeRoy

The Lowdown 

The film follows three grade school classmates, Mary (Joan Blondell), Vivian (Ann Dvorak), and Ruth (Bette Davis), as they grow up, go their separate ways, and then reconnect at a beauty parlor.  When Vivian turns her life upside down after deciding that she’s unhappy with her marriage, Mary and Ruth stand by helplessly and watch their old acquaintance throw her life away with a long series of poor choices and a severe struggle with substance abuse.  Although Vivian’s life careens out of control, her misfortune ends up leading Mary and Ruth to a better life as they assume the roles of wife and mother that Vivian leaves behind.

What I Thought

Well, this was my first step into the Pre-Code era of Hollywood, and boy was it a doozy.  I admit, I have a number of large gaps in my cinema knowledge, and this period between the late 1920’s and early 1930’s is one of them.  I just didn’t have a lot of exposure to the films of this time until now.

That being said. . .

Within the first ten minutes of the movie, you’ll see kids showing off their “bloomers,” smoking, and dancing suggestively.  By the end of the movie, you’ll have seen adults drinking, high on drugs, wearing see-through nightgowns, and falling from several stories onto a busy street in a very realistic suicide scene.  It’s provocative filmmaking to say the least, and let me tell you, it’s captivating.

From beginning to end, this is a wild ride through the lives of three young women who start out on very different paths (bad girl, popular diva, straight ‘A’ student) and end up places that they never thought they’d be – some good, some disappointing, and some outright horrible.  It’s exciting, dramatic, occasionally funny, often stimulating, and eventually very painful to watch.

I really enjoyed this movie, but after Black Legion, Two Against the World, and now Three on a Match, let’s just say that I’m ready for more of a pick-me-up Bogart movie.

The Bogart Factor

The movie is barely over an hour and Bogart doesn’t appear until about forty-seven minutes into the film, so there’s not a lot of time spent with his character.  When he does show up however, his role largely dominates the storyline until the end of the film.

Playing Harve, the number one thug to a mobster named Ace (Edward Arnold), Bogart shows up with a gang of toughs to shake down Vivian and her new boyfriend after they kidnap Vivian’s young son Junior in an attempt to extort her wealthy ex-husband.

It’s a scene-stealing role for Bogart, as his cool and detached onscreen persona overpowers every other actor in the frame.

While not a large role for Bogie, it’s definitely worth seeking out.

The Cast 

Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak, and Bette Davis are all superb and perfectly cast.

Blondell is so good, I can’t wait to catch up with her in other roles.  Fortunately, I won’t have to wait long as she’s apparently in a few other Bogart movies on my list.

Dvorak is able to play both high class and depravity with equal strength, and it’s a role that makes me want to explore the rest of her filmography.

Then there’s Bette Davis, who supposedly spent her time on the film at odds with Director LeRoy who didn’t appreciate her acting, which probably explains why her character is the least developed of the three.  I don’t know what Leroy was seeing, as Davis is just as gorgeous and fun as ever.  (Yes, I’m well aware that this blog is turning into a Bette Davis fanblog . . . I don’t know what to say.  She’s becoming more and more an obsession with me all the time.)

Warren William, as Vivian’s ex-husband Robert Kirkwood, is very good, and another actor with a filmography I need to explore.

Lyle Talbot plays Michael Loftus, Vivian’s shifty, flop-sweating, junkie of a boyfriend who gets into debt with Bogart’s boss.  He’s just good looking enough to con you, and just oily enough to hate.  He’s does well in the role.

Child actor Dickie Moore plays Dvorak and William’s son, Junior, and does a good job of being cute and heartbreaking at every possible moment.  (For a good piece on Moore, check out @HollywoodComet’s review of Dickie Moore’s book about being a child actor here, as she is currently in the midst of a child actor blogathon.)

Classic Bogie Moment

There aren’t a lot of scenes to pick from, but towards the end of the film, when Harve and his thugs are hold up in Vivian’s apartment, Bogart, dressed in a charcoal suit and black fedora, sits hunched in a chair, commanding the room on sheer charisma as he tells his crew about the cops canvassing the streets.

Perhaps Bogie’s best line, and maybe the most chilling line of the film, comes after Bogart strong-arms Dvorak into a room and slams the door.  Dickie Moore approaches and whimpers:

Moore:  You musn’t hurt my mama.

Bogart: (SNEERING) Okay, I’ll bear that in mind.

The Bottom Line

Although short, this is a classic gangster role for Bogart.  Even though he’s not in it for long, it’s a great film, an easy watch, and a fun early Bogart role.  If you’re really jonesing for a Bogart gangster film though, you might want to pair it up with something like High Sierra just to get a good fix.

Kid Galahad – 1937

gala

My Review

—Good, Harmless Fun—

Your Bogie Fix:

1.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  – Michael Curtiz

The Lowdown

Boxing promoter Nick Donati (Edward G. Robinson) and his girlfriend “Fluff” (Bette Davis) stumble across an unknown fighting phenomenon when they witness a bellhop (Wayne Morris) knock out an experienced fighter at a hotel party.  Donati immediately sees dollar signs in the bellhop’s championship potential, while his girlfriend Fluff starts to fall in love.  The only problem?  The boxer that the bellhop knocked out works for mobster “Turkey” Morgan (Humphrey Bogart), and Morgan is willing to do whatever it takes to get his revenge on the bellhop, and the fast talking Donati.

What I Thought

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.

The Bogart Factor 

Well, Bogart’s present, I guess.  It’s my lowest “Bogie Fix” review so far, so that should tell you something.  He doesn’t get a lot of screen time, and when he does, he’s relegated to being the stock mob-guy character.  He is able to put a slight twist on it though, making “Turkey” Morgan more of a sniveling whiner than a cutthroat gangster.  This film’s much more suited for a Robinson or Davis fix, as the viewer can go for extended periods of time with no Bogie in sight.

The Cast 

Robinson and Davis as the leads do what they do best.  Robinson is every bit the real life caricature that we’ve all grown to love, and Bette Davis is gorgeous and fun.

Davis plays ‘Fluff’ with a girl-next-door quality that left me wondering for the first half of the movie how she ended up with Robinson.  There is a brief scene in a car with Morris where she alludes to a darker past, but come on, Bette!  You can do better!

The first party scene in the hotel though, where she’s serving drinks in a flower print dress with a low neckline . . . whew – she is GORGEOUS!

bette

Wayne Morris is okay.  He’s big, and stiff, and perhaps a little more dopey than what the script called for.  Although, I was amazed at how much charm he could exude with a smile.  One smile, and you can’t take your eyes off the guy.  I can see why the studio thought he had potential as a leading man.  He’s capable enough and does his job in this movie, but if you want a better dose of him, you should check out Paths of Glory.

Jane Bryan, who played Davis’ kid sister in Marked Woman, shows up here as Robinson’s kid sister, Marie.  She plays young and naïve, and we believe she’s the country brat who falls in love with the farmboy boxer.  The more I see of Bryan, the more impressed I am as she elevates any movie she’s in – and I have to admit that I’m starting to develop a little thing for her . . .

Don’t Forget to Notice. . . 

Ben Welden, who was so good as the menacing enforcer, Charlie, in Marked Woman, appears here as Morgan’s right hand man, Buzz Barett.  Notice that with only the addition of an ear-to-ear grin, his presence goes from menacing in Marked Woman to incredibly smarmy in Kid Galahad.  This guy is so much fun to watch in the background of any scene he’s in.

Classic Bogie Moment

There was not a lot to pick from, but there is one neat shot towards the end of the movie after the climactic boxing match.  Bogart’s “Turkey” Morgan needs to lure the cops away from Robinson and Morris.  We get a wonderful shot of him lurking behind a chain link fence, cigarette dangling from his mouth – and then moments later, a great silhouette of Bogie with his gun drawn.

galahadgalahad 2

The Bottom Line

The movie is enjoyable enough that it should be on any Bogart fan’s list, but I’d advise you to double bill it with a 3+ Bogie Film Fix to make sure that you’re not jonesing for more Bogie later!  How about Petrified Forest?  Then you can spend countless nights pining away for Bette Davis just like I do now.  On second thought, that much young and gorgeous Bette Davis might be too powerful for any mortal man to handle . . . be careful!

A Little Extra

Wayne Morris’ life and career were cut short after a heart attack when he was forty-five.  Even at that young age, he still had a good, long list of credits.  Make sure you check him out in Kirk Douglas’ Paths of Glory where he gets a better role to shine with!