The Gangsters

It doesn’t matter how you remember Bogart. It doesn’t matter which role is your favorite. Rick Blaine? Charlie Allnut? Captain Queeg? Philip Marlowe?

In the grand scope of film history, his persona was cemented during his early career as the tough guy gangster.

How do I know? Just look at any one of the numerous film cameos, radio appearances, or personal appearances for the troops throughout his life – when Bogart showed up, the public wanted to see him play the gangster regardless of what was going on in his career.

Bogart seemed to enjoy it as well, dishing out the tough talk and never afraid to give his all to cameo as a threatening menace to comedians, radio hosts, or cheering soldiers in Europe. Even now, when someone impersonates Bogart for film or television, the visual is often Rick Blaine from Casablanca, but the talk is all New York gangster.

It wasn’t until I started this post that I realized just how many times Bogart played a gangster, racketeer, mobster, or hood. Depending on which films you count (I left off The Bad Sister because he’s more of a con artist than a gangster, and numerous prison films like Up the River, San Quentin, and We’re No Angels because they’re more “convict” roles than “gangster” roles, per se… I also left out The Oklahoma Kid since I consider that more of a “cowboy” role in a Western film), Bogart made more than a dozen and less than 20 films where he played a big city tough with and without a gun in hand.

The most famous films of the genre, The Petrified Forest and High Sierra, are surely the foundation for Bogart’s legacy as an actor who could add that crucial third dimension to what could have been a typical cliched tough guy. In other slightly less acclaimed films, Dead End and The Roaring Twenties, Bogart’s portrayals as a gangster added great depth and authenticity to movies that would have been sorely lacking without his presence.

Add to all of the that the numerous B-movie gangster films that Bogart starred in, often the only bright spot in several forgettable duds, and it’s no wonder that the world still celebrates Bogart as Hollywood’s greatest dark-suited, wise cracking, gun wielding tough guy.

The Gangsters

Three on a Match – 1932

The movie is barely over an hour and Bogart’s Harve 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, it’s magic, and his role largely dominates the story line until the end of the film.

Playing the number one thug to a mobster named Ace (Edward Arnold), Bogart shows up with a gang of toughs to shake down the mother of a young boy that they’ve kidnapped 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 part, it’s definitely worth seeking out, especially when you add in Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak, and Bette Davis in costarring roles!

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Midnight/Call It Murder – 1934

Bogart does a great job here, making the most of what little time he has on screen playing Gar Boni, a small time hood that falls for Sidney Fox’s Stella Weldon. There are certainly seeds of his later gangster roles – a cool and collected gunman that’s smooth with the ladies and talks a good game. The film opens at a court trial where we meet the young lovebirds as they watch Stella’s father chair the jury for a murder case. The moment that they share together, as Gar Boni insults the jury before realizing who he’s sitting next to, is sweet and funny. While they could have used some more scenes between the two young actors, the film is worth a watch.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Petrified Forest – 1936

Bogart physically inhabits the violent, desperate, and dangerous gangster, Duke Mantee, in what many consider to be one of his greatest roles – and certainly the first role that really put him on the map. From the moment that he appears on screen (about 35 minutes into the film), he is a rubber band wound tight, and the viewer is just waiting for his inevitable snap.

He walks hunched with his hands held slightly out at the waist, giving you the impression that he’s either going to draw his gun, or strangle someone at any moment – a mannerism that he would continue to use for countless films during tense moments.

I cannot imagine any other actor playing the role of Duke Mantee as well as Bogart does. It’s clear that he worked hard to embody the gangster from top to bottom. I almost began to wonder if he was even able to sweat on command as the movie ramps up to its violent, dramatic conclusion.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Bullets or Ballots – 1936

You have to give Bogart’s “Bugs” Fenner credit in this film. Out of a couple dozen gangsters in a room, he was the only one that really seemed to know that Edward G. Robinson was double crossing his boss, Barton McLane. I found myself wanting to yell at his fellow heavies multiple times to just shut up and listen to him for a minute.

Bogart is able to take a pretty cliched gangster role and elevate it here. His portrayal of Fenner is intimidating, ruthless, and downright chilling. Even though I was pretty sure that Robinson was going to come out on top (doesn’t he always when Bogie’s the bad guy?), I was surprised by how much tension was built between the two men as Fenner relentlessly chased down Robinson’s Blake in an attempt to exact revenge.

It’s roles like this that make me understand why the studio thought they should keep Bogart typecast as the bad guy. The tough thug parts may not have utilized his full potential as an actor, but he was dang good in them.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Kid Galahad – 1937

Despite Bogart’s menacing role as Turkey Morgan, two great stars in Edward G. Robinson and Bette Davis, and a handsome young lead in Wayne Morris, this uneven dramedy never really hits its stride. Bogart doesn’t get a lot of screen time, and when he does, he’s relegated to being the stock mob-guy character that exists only to further the plot. The most interesting thing of note might be that Bogart makes Morgan more of a sniveling whiner than a cutthroat gangster as he’s constantly embarrassed and thwarted by Robinson.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Dead End – 1937

Playing ‘Baby Face’ Martin, this is one of Bogart’s most fleshed-out gangster roles. While on paper it might not look like much – a criminal running from the cops who stops by to see his old flame and his mother one more time – a lot of expectations get turned on their heads when both interactions don’t follow the typical Hollywood formula.

It’s a role where we get to see Bogart thinking out loud, saying just as much with his facial expressions and mannerisms as he does with his dialogue. Perhaps one of his best portrayals of internal turmoil, I’m a little surprised that this part isn’t more talked about when people list his greatest performances. ‘Baby Face’ Martin seems like a younger, ever-so-slightly more hopeful, version of Duke Mantee just as he turns the corner from confidence to fatalism.

For the scenes between Bogart and his mother played by Marjorie Main, as well as Bogart and Claire Trevor, this film’s an acting clinic for how to handle disappointment with a character on film. Both scenes are incredibly strong moments that give us a great glimpse of Bogart’s skill at listening and reacting to his costars on screen.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Racket Busters – 1938

Playing gangster John ‘Czar’ Martin, this isn’t a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it part for Bogart, but it isn’t much more. He makes a brief appearance every once in a while in order to boss his goons around, but I’d be shocked if any of his scenes here last more than forty-five seconds.

Considering that this wasn’t his first go-round as a tough-as-nails gangsters, you would think that it’d be a slam dunk to let Bogart do some of the heavy lifting with the beat downs and the gun play. Instead, I think the most dramatic scene that he’s involved in before the final shootout involves a massage table and some snarky dialogue.

This one’s not a must see for anybody. You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse – 1938

It’s not a huge part for Bogart, but he nails it. Playing ‘Rocks’ Valentine, we see the two-dimensional gangster that Bogart was often assigned for his minor antagonist characters, and yet he still elevates the material like only he can.

It seems to be a trend in Bogart’s bad guys that, once again, he’s the only one in the gang who’s aware that something’s not right. He doesn’t trust Edward G. Robinson’s intentions, but no one will believe his doubts. We’ll just have to wait until Key Largo for Bogart to give Robinson his “just due.”

While the script doesn’t give Bogart a lot to work with, he makes sure to add his own flourishes so that ‘Rocks’ makes a big impact. I’ll rest my case on the picture above!

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Angels with Dirty Faces – 1938

Bogart plays James Frazier, a lawyer who goes into business for himself as a racketeer after he swipes a hundred thousand dollars off of James Cagney after Cagney is sentenced to a long prison stint. Most of the role is spent sniveling into a phone, or sniveling to his partner in crime (George Bancroft), or just plain sniveling for his life from Cagney.

Bogart’s trying, but there’s literally nothing here to work with. Why have two crooks in Bogart and Bancroft? Why not just consolidate them into one role and give it a little more meat? It’s probably the biggest shortcoming of the script that we don’t get a better antagonist to work against Cagney’s attempt at creating a new criminal empire.

All that said, Cagney is great in the film, and it has one of the most haunting endings of any film I’ve seen.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

King of the Underworld – 1939

Bogart could be comedic, dramatic, romantic, threatening, subdued, and whimsical – and while several of those are attempted at various points here with his gunman Joe Gurney, the performance comes off as inconsistent. In some scenes he’s wonderfully despicable. In others, his comedic timing is flawless. While that kind of varied personality works well in some films (see All Through the Night, High Sierra, The Roaring Twenties), it comes off as fragmented and uneven here.

Still, Gurney is incredibly interesting and has so much potential. The story of a gangster obsessed with Napoleon, yet too shortsighted to see that they share the same tragic flaws, should lead to a much more satisfying character arc than it does here. Especially when you add in the relationship with the historical author who’s on hand to chronicle it all. But wait, there’s a convoluted love story to contend with. And a side story about unapproving townsfolk. Then there’s the out for justice/revenge plot that keeps disappearing and reappearing, grabbing for our attention. It’s just too many under-developed story fragments in too short of a film.

All of that said, I’d still say this one is probably a must see for die hard Bogart fans as so many of the elements that made him a great ‘bad guy’ are here on display in various moments.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Invisible Stripes – 1939

Playing ex-con Chuck Martin, this might be one of the most likable gangsters that Bogart ever got to play. Right up until his final scene, we have to appreciate and respect Martin’s attempts to help George Raft’s Cliff pull himself up by his bootstraps – even if it’s not by legal means.

The part is small, so there are long droughts throughout the film where Bogart’s presence isn’t felt, but when he’s onscreen, he pops. Could they have used him more? Probably, but it wouldn’t have fit with the story. The film needed to spend its time building up the relationship between Raft and his on screen brother William Holden. So I guess that if I’m going to watch someone play a likable bad guy, it’s a treat that it gets to be Bogart, even if the role is smaller than I’d like.

You can read my original post on the film here.

The Roaring Twenties – 1939

Bogart’s got a strong first ten minutes in the film and then disappears until about halfway through as he plays James Cagney’s war buddy turned crime partner, George Hally. It’s not as well rounded a character as Cagney has to play with, as Bogart plays a slightly more typical bad guy, but it does have its moments.

Director Raoul Walsh does a great job playing Bogart and Cagney off of each other as friends and eventual enemies, using Bogart’s brief scenes to show his menace, while at the same time giving us motivation for his eventual turn on Cagney. In particular, Walsh crafts a great little side story where Hally comes across his old, belligerent army Sergeant (Joe Sawyer) as he and Cagney are committing a robbery. The scene is a crucial piece of the puzzle that is Bogart’s tragic flaw in the film. He doesn’t like playing second fiddle to anybody, see!

You can read my original write up on the film here.

It All Came True – 1940

This was truly the first time that Bogart spoofed his iconic gangster image, playing gunman-on-the-lam, Chips Maguire. Watching him stumble around his bedroom, gasping and gaping at all the stuffed birds and monkeys, is almost enough to make you forget that he’s blackmailing poor old Tommy (Jeffrey Lynn).

Add in his relationship with the motherly boarding house proprietors, Una O’ Connor and Jessie Busley, and Maguire becomes downright lovable as he begrudgingly accepts their tender loving care while he “recuperates” in bed.

Bogart was very, very good at comedy, and I think this film is a perfect showcase for it.  Surrounded by a wonderful cast, you get a great taste of Bogart’s dry wit as he enthusiastically dances, sings, and mugs his way through this film. (That’s right, you get to see him do a little jig, sing a chorus of “Strolling Through the Park One Day,” and take target practice at a stuffed monkey.)

Not even a year later, we get to see him play a very similar character, “Gloves” Donahue, in the comedy gangster thriller All Through the Night, but this was his first step towards turning some of his more notable personas on their ear.

It seems like he’s really enjoying himself in the role. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Brother Orchid – 1940

Bogart doesn’t get a ton of time to shine here in his role as gangster, Jack Buck, but a couple things popped out to me.

In Robinson’s opening speech to his gang, Bogart sits back in his chair, taking it all in, as he slowly taps and rotates a sharpened pencil on his leg – eraser, point, eraser, point.  A wonderfully menacing touch to a scene where he could have just sat passively by and listened.

And one of the subtlest, most satisfying bits of comedy comes when Ann Sothern is asking if Bogart could possibly make up with Robinson. Bogart replies, “Johnny don’t like me no more . . . makes me feel bad too . . .”  It could come off as pathetic, or creepy, or evil and conniving, but Bogart uses his great comedy chops to pull it off playfully like a wounded puppy, adding a nice touch of humorous vulnerability.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

High Sierra – 1941

Bogart layers the role of Roy Earle so deeply that you’re instantly sucked into not only empathizing with the character, but actually forgiving him when he commits his crime and is forced to shoot a security guard. I’m amazed and impressed with how much character development was given to Bogart’s role as he’s allowed to build deep and authentic relationships with Henry Travers’ Pa, Ida Lupino’s Marie, Joan Leslie’s Velma, and Donald McBride’s Big Mac. So often in crime films of this era, much more time is given over to the action and adventure, and little effort is spent on building a solid three-dimensional character. Director Raoul Walsh gives Bogart plenty of scenes to build a great foundation here though, and it makes for a riveting performance.

Bogart appears to be enjoying himself, and it’s a lot of fun to see him acting against his real life dog, Zero, in the film’s lighter moments. If you’re looking for a solid Bogart fix, this one’s a must see as it’s undoubtedly some of his best work. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of him.

High Sierra was the last film that Bogart made where he wasn’t given top billing, and it’s easy to see why this role made him an undeniably top-tiered star.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

All through the night – 1942

Playing racketeer “Gloves” Donahue, you get to hear Bogart say the lines, “Hiya” and “Hello, Joe, whatta ya know?”  Seriously, what more can you ask from a Bogie movie?

In this, Bogart’s second gangster film spoof, we get New York’s toughest thugs battling the Nazi’s in an attempt to save the USA from certain doom. An all star cast that includes Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre, Frank McHugh, William Demarest, Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers, Barton MacClane, and Ben Welden make this one a must see for it’s incredible characters and flawless comedic timing.

The most classic of classic Bogie moments happens early in the film when Bogart is called to a nightclub by his mother to investigate a woman who might know something about a murdered cheesecake baker. Kaaren Verne plays Leda Hamilton, Bogart’s questionable ally and love interest – who also happens to be a nightclub singer because . . . well . . . of course she is.  Aren’t they all?

Has there ever been an actor who can make listening to live music look more captivating and cool than Bogart? Seeing him casually walk to a table while never taking his eyes off of Verne is a scene replayed many times throughout his filmography with different actresses, and only Bogart could pull it off with such a sparkly-eyed charisma that it never grows old.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Producer’s Showcase – The Petrified Forest – 1955

Bogart comes back one more time to remake the gangster film that put him on the map as gunman-on-the-run, Duke Mantee! This time though, it’s for the small screen and Lauren Bacall steps in for Bette Davis and Henry Fonda takes over for Leslie Howard.

Mantee’s role is trimmed here. In fact, the entire movie runs about ten minutes shorter.  (While it’s listed as 90 minutes on IMDB, it’s much more like 72.) It also seems like some of Bogart’s lines might have been filmed separately and then spliced into the film.  (Several sources refer to this as a “live” airing, but then, how did they get the exterior shots of Fonda walking along a country road?)

Again though, I have to say that I found it captivating to watch an actor of Bogart’s caliber get the chance to reprise the role – playing Mantee twenty years older, showing a wearier, dead-eyed mobster this time around.  I think it’s a must see for die hard Bogart fans.

You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Desperate Hours – 1955

How fantastic is it that Bogart’s first big break was as ‘Duke’ Mantee in The Petrified Forest, and then in his second to last film he returns with an almost identical character and plotline with the role of Glenn Griffin here? What an incredible double feature this would be for any classic film fans who need a great lineup on a Friday night!

So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. When the play won its Tony on Broadway, a young and much lesser known Paul Newman was the star. Half Bogart’s age, Newman’s casting makes a bit more sense when you factor in the younger brother storyline that weighs pretty heavily into plot. I can only imagine what kind of tour-de-force Newman must have been on stage, but being a celebrated Broadway actor who’d really only had bit parts on television, Newman wasn’t used for the role when it came up for grabs in Hollywood. Would it have been a better movie? Who’s to say? It would have been different for sure. It might have been an earlier launching pad for another one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actors as it would still be another three years before Newman would really break out with Somebody Up There Likes Me and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

But back to Bogart! This is his second to last film and there’s no trace of the illness that would eventually take his life on display here. He looks rough and ragged, but that’s what the role calls for. He smokes, snarls, leers, and blows his top in the most masterful of ways and it’s a captivating watch. This one’s certainly going into my top one or two ‘Older Bogie’ performances. It’s a must see for an Classic Film fan or Bogart die hard!

You can read my original write up on the film here.

*Character Reference is an ongoing feature on The Bogie Film Blog where we break down some of Bogart’s most famous genres and characters. You can read the rest of the entries here.*

 

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TCM Vault: Humphrey Bogart – The Columbia Pictures Collection

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Honorary Bogie Box Set Fix:

4 Bogie

The Lowdown

There are a bunch of Humphrey Bogart box sets out there. Gangster collections. Warner Brothers collections. A Bacall and Bogart pack. Etc…

Most consumers will probably look first to the colossal, 24-film 12-disc set Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection as it contains not only his most popular films, but also such a treasure trove of extras that I haven’t even made it through them all yet. (There are even tons of postcard-sized posters, stills, lobby cards, and personal letters from and about Bogart.) That review will come, but this one focuses more on the slightly lesser known gem,  TCM’s 5-disc Columbia Pictures Collection.

While the extras are few and far between compared to The Essential Collection, what makes The Columbia Pictures Collection a great addition to any Classic Film fan’s library is the fact that TCM has bundled together four of Bogart’s later films (Knock on Any Door, Tokyo Joe, Sirocco, and The Harder They Fall) as well as an early, pre-Warner Brothers, 1932 Love Affair.

While you could track all five down separately, here they are gathered together, restored and remastered, at a price that’s more-than-likely cheaper than what you would pay for them individually. Plus, being a TCM release, you get a really nice Ben Mankiewicz intro to each film just as if you were watching it broadcast on the channel itself.

Beyond the Mankiewicz intros, the other extras on the DVDs aren’t stellar. Unlike The Essential Collection’s DVD extras and hands-on goodies, here you only get DVD stills of lobby cards, publicity shots, and movie posters – none of which mean much unless you need some new computer backgrounds. The reward from this box set is the collection of films itself.

Would this be the first set you should buy? Well, if you’ve got another 20 bucks, go with The Essential Collection. But when you’re ready to move on from the Warner Brothers fare, this set is nice addition. The films look great, come at a great price, and save you the hassle of trolling through Amazon and Ebay to put them together yourself.

What’s Included?

DISC 1 – Love Affair – 1932

Love Affair Poster

Plot

Carol Owen (Dorothy Mackaill) is a wealthy young socialite who falls for a local flight instructor (Humphrey Bogart), while at the same time keeping a rich older suitor (Hale Hamilton) on the side. Unbeknownst to Owen and the flight instructor, the rich older suitor is also having a private affair with the flight instructor’s sister (Astrid Allwyn) who’s trying to swindle him out of enough money to stage a play.

What I Thought

I was more than pleasantly surprised by this film. Being Bogart’s first real leading role, and having heard very little about it, I expected that Love Affair might be a little bit of a mess. It’s more than worth a watch, though. The print is great for a 1932 film, Ben Mankiewicz gives it a nice introduction, and the overall quality of the film should offer plenty of entertainment to even the casual Bogart fan despite the plot which is a bit over complicated.

The DVD Extras

*Ben Mankiewicz Intro

*Scene Stills

*Humphrey Bogart Biography

*Lobby Card Stills

*Movie Poster Still

You can read my original post on the film here.

DISC 2 – Knock on Any Door – 1949

Knock On Any Door Poster

The Plot

An attorney (Humphrey Bogart) who escaped a history of crime and poverty must defend a young hoodlum (John Derek) accused of murdering a policeman.

What I Thought

First of all, before you watch this film, don’t read any of the reviews or synopses on the web. A few of them actually give away the ending in the first paragraph, and it always bugs me a little bit that people think they can get away with that because it’s a “classic” film.

Knock on Any Door was the first film 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. Based on the bestselling book by Willard Motley, Bogart handpicked Director Nicholas Ray after being impressed by his directorial debut in They Live by Night. It’s a partnership that would go on to produce one of my favorite Bogart films, In a Lonely Place.

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.

The DVD Extras

*Ben Mankiewicz Intro

*Publicity Stills

*Movie Poster Stills

*Behind the Scenes Photo Stills

*Scene Stills

You can read my original post on the film here.

DISC 3 – Tokyo Joe – 1949

Tokyo Joe Poster

The Plot

An American (Humphrey Bogart) returns to Tokyo after World War II to pick up the pieces of his broken marriage and his former nightclub, the ‘Tokyo Joe.’

What I Thought

The critics who initially treated this one roughly were pretty much on the nose. This film is held back greatly by a script and a director that don’t seem to know what tone they want to set for their main protagonist. I think we’re supposed to root for Bogart’s returning war vet just as much as we did for Rick Blaine in Casablanca. At least, that’s the feeling I’m left with as we watch him fight for the love of his life and rekindle his friendship with his former nightclub partner and best friend. The problem is, early on in the film we’re introduced to Bogart as a man who dumped his wife, ditched her to die in a hostile country, and then returns to reclaim her, only to resort to blackmail before turning over a new leaf. It’s kind of like if Casablanca had been made from Ilsa’s perspective. Does it make sense? Sure. Is it a little tough to feel sympathy for someone that doesn’t always make the most sympathetic choices. Yup.

The DVD Extras

*Ben Mankiewicz Intro

*Lobby Card Stills

*Scene Stills

*Behind the Scenes Photo Stills

*Publicity Stills

*Movie Poster Stills

You can read my original post on the film here.

DISC 4 – Sirocco – 1951

Sirocco

The Plot

A black market gun dealer (Humphrey Bogart) sells weapons and ammo to the Syrians as they revolt against their French occupiers in 1925, only to fall in love with the girlfriend (Märta Torén) of a French Colonel (Lee J. Cobb) in charge of tracking him down.

What I Thought

If this was the best film on the 5-disc set, it’d be worth it.

During the film’s introduction, Ben Mankiewicz acknowledges the criticism that the film has received for aping Casablanca, but he also points out that watching the film removed from the era helps the enjoyment of it quite a bit. I would agree 100%.

Yes, we have expatriate Bogart involved in some criminal operations in a foreign occupied country. And yeah, there is a woman involved, who also happens to be involved with a man who’s doing his best to become a martyr for his cause. But I think Sirocco does a good job of finding its own legs as it diverts away from many of the more iconic qualities that we think about when we consider Casablanca.

Bogart’s gun dealer is darker and less trustworthy than Rick Blaine. The whole setting is less fun. There is a more urgent feeling of death around every corner, and so the swagger and aloofness of a Rick Blaine does not play off to same effect here as it did in the previous blockbuster.

Cobb and Torén are great. Everett Sloane does a great job as a French General. And there’s tons of local Sirocco flavor added in that it makes for a very compelling film.

The DVD Extras

*Ben Mankiewicz Intro

*Publicity Stills

*Movie Poster Stills

*Lobby Card Stills

*Scene Stills

You can read my original post on the film here.

DISC 5 – The Harder They Fall – 1956

The Harder They Fall Poster

The Plot

An out-of-work sportswriter (Humphrey Bogart) grows desperate enough for a paycheck that he takes a job from an underhanded boxing promoter (Rod Steiger) at the expense of his own integrity.

What I Thought

Before the film begins, Ben Mankiewicz mentions that Bogart wasn’t particularly fond of Rod Steiger’s acting style. Bogart apparently thought Steiger was “overacting,” so he downplayed his own performance to counter balance their scenes together. While Steiger chewed the scenery, Bogart calmly leaned back and watched him go.

Knowing this as the film begins gives you an interesting perspective on the film as a whole. Was Steiger overacting? I don’t think so, but I can see how Bogart might have thought that he was. Steiger had come out of The Actor’s Studio, and no doubt had trained heavily in the new and controversial “method acting” style that was about to take Hollywood by storm. Bogart, on the other hand, came out of the old studio system where you kept your cards close to your vest and only rolled out the bigger emotions when you really needed to make a point.

It’s not hard to see how these two styles might have clashed just a bit.

The great news is that it worked wonderfully well. Bogart is supposed to be the cynical, older, weary writer that’s just as close to giving up as he is to trying again. Steiger is the conman wound tight and ready to break, wheeling and dealing at every moment in order to wring every cent that he can out of the world. Bogart comes off as a man unimpressed. Steiger comes off as a frustrated bully who can’t control his affairs or his emotions. It’s exactly what the script calls for.

By far the best film in the box set, this was Bogart’s last time on screen before his death, and it was a really great way for him to end his career. It’s a must see for Classic Film or Bogart fans.

The DVD Extras

*Ben Mankiewicz Intro

*Lobby Card Set Stills

*Scene Stills

*Behind the Scenes Photo Stills

*Publicity Stills

*Movie Poster Stills

You can read my original post on the film here.

The Bottom Line

Yes, get it! If you like Bogart or Classic Films, you won’t regret this set!