Ann Sheridan

Ann Sheridan It All Came True Pulbicity Shot

Birth Name: Clara Lou Sheridan

Birthdate: February 21, 1915

Date of Death: January 21, 1967

Number of Films Ann Sheridan made with Humphrey Bogart: 7

The Actress

The daughter of a Texas auto mechanic, Ann Sheridan grew up as a bit of an athlete and Tomboy who would later take a page out of her father’s handbook and develop a passion for restoring cars. On track to become a school teacher until her sister entered her in a “Search for Beauty” contest, Sheridan’s bathing suit picture was enough to win over the judges and earn her a bit part with Paramount Pictures.

Twenty-four films later, Sheridan made her way over to Warner Brothers where she would end up working alongside of Hollywood’s greatest legend, Humphrey Bogart. While Hollywood dubbed her the “Oomph Girl,” Sheridan reportedly hated the nickname, but her pin-up popularity and alluring film roles did nothing to dissuade the general public from picking up on the moniker and keeping it alive.

Full disclosure – I have a heavy, heavy, crush on Ann Sheridan, so any opinion I have on her movies is deeply colored by my adoration. Having made 7 films with Bogart, this post is late in coming to ‘The Usual Suspects’ portion of the blog.

Free tonight? Pop in It All Came True and try – just TRY – not to fall in love with this woman!

The Filmography

Black Legion – 1937Ann Sheridan Black Legion

Sheridan appears as Betty Grogan, the girl-next-door girlfriend to Bogart’s best friend in the film, Dick Foran. She’s sweet enough in the role but doesn’t get a lot to work with as she spends most of her time trying to be the good girl who reforms her beer drinking boyfriend into marriage material. You can find my original write up on the film here.

The Great O’Malley – 1937Ann Sheridan The Great O'Malley

Sheridan plays school teacher Judy Nolan, the woman that tames, teaches, and eventually falls for Pat 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. It’s fun to watch her strut her stuff to the chagrin of O’Brien as she gets to play the street-smart gal to a man who expects all women to fall into a cookie-cutter housewife stereotype. You can read my original write up on the film here.

San Quentin – 1937San Quentin Sheridan

Sheridan gets a little more to work with here as the lounge singing May, girlfriend to Pat O’Brien’s prison warden. Suffering from a few character inconsistencies, Sheridan begins the film as a sultry nightclub act, only to switch over to the innocent girl-next-door type for the rest of the film. It certainly doesn’t ruin the film, but it might have been more interesting to see her with a bit of a darker character, especially since she’s playing the sister to Bogart’s small-time hood. This was also supposedly the film where Sheridan and Bogart became good friends off screen. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Angels with Dirty Faces – 1938Ann Sheridan Angels With Dirty Faces

Sheridan plays Laury Ferguson, and while she does the best she can here, she is severely underused in this film. There are a few moments of promise at the beginning when she starts a relationship with Cagney, but after that, Sheridan is relegated to occasionally popping up to fret over the men of the film and try not to look out of place even though she has little to do. Still, she does look great, and it’s fun to see her onscreen mixing it up with James Cagney and Pat O’Brien. You can read my original write up on the film here.

It All Came True – 1940 Sheridan It All Came TrueSheridan = perfection here. I know this isn’t a great film by any means, but her portrayal of the dancing and singing Sarah Jane Ryan goes toe-to-toe with Bogart’s dastardly gangster and she steals nearly every scene that she shares with Hollywood’s biggest legend. If any Bogart collaboration captures her spitfire personality, it’s this one. From her first entrance to her final song, she was amazing. You can read my original write up on the film here.

They Drive by Night – 1940They Drive by Night Sheridan

Sheridan plays truck stop waitress Cassie Hartley who falls for George Raft after he’s more than a little persistent. Sheridan does a good job of giving us the impression that she’s a good girl who’s perhaps done some dark things in her past, and she has some really nice scenes with Raft as they share a hotel room for a night before eventually falling in love and making a life together. I can’t get enough of Sheridan, and this is one of her most solid Bogart film appearances. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Thank Your Lucky Stars – 1943Sheridan TYLS

Sheridan plays herself in this star-studded wartime musical, although she doesn’t share any scenes with Bogart. Singing Love isn’t Born It’s Made, Sheridan teaches a group of young ladies who are pining over their singleness how to proactively search for love. Wearing a slinky, silky, white dress, Sheridan’s musical number is definitely one of the highlights of the film, even with the audio turned off! You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – 1948no Sheridan

It’s another Bogie Film Blog cameo that never was! While Sheridan is listed on IMDB with a cameo in the film as a pretty woman walking by a storefront, the woman in question is clearly not Sheridan. A few online sites say that there are test photos of Sheridan in the costume, so perhaps John Huston initially had her in the film and then decided the cameo was too distracting? Again, if anyone has any info on how this rumor got started, let me know. You can read my original write up on the film here.

* ‘The Usual Suspects’ is a regular feature on the blog where we highlight one of Bogart’s regular collaborators. Check out other posts here. *

Joe Sawyer

Black Legion

*This post is a part of the “What a Character” Blogathon over at Aurora’s Gin Joint  hosted by @citizenscreen!  Check out the rest of the great posts over there!

Birth Name: Joseph Sauers

Birthdate: August 29, 1906

Number of Films that Joe Sawyer Made with Humphrey Bogart: 6

The Lowdown

There were two actors that inspired me to start ‘The Usual Suspects’ portion of this blog. The first was a character actor named Ben Weldon. The second was Joe Sawyer. With a crooked nose, cleft chin, devilish smile, and a build like a brick house, Sawyer popped up time and time again in character roles in over 200 films and television shows.

While most people would probably recognize Sawyer from his recurring role as Sgt. Biff O’Hara on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Sawyer’s unique look made him stand out to me immediately while watching Bogart film after Bogart film. Who was this guy? What’s his story? How many Bogart films was this guy in?

I actually had the chance to chat on the phone with Sawyer’s son a couple of months ago and he told me that his father was an independent contractor that usually hired himself out to studios for a week or two at a time – hence the smaller roles. While he wasn’t apparently a close friend with Bogart, they did both originate their roles in The Petrified Forest onstage together in New York, and on a few occasions they went out for drinks after a day of shooting.

While you may not recognize his name, I have no doubt that if you’re a fan of classic films, you’ll recognize Joe Sawyer’s unmistakable face!

The Filmography

The Petrified Forest – 1936

Petrified ForestSawyer with Bogart and Adrian Morris

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Sawyer plays Jackie, one of Bogart’s henchmen. A role he also originated on stage, Sawyer is a lot of fun in this small part, especially when he taunts Boze the gas station attendant. Sawyer plays Jackie with a wonderfully cruel sense of humor, and it’s pretty admirable that in between Bogart, Bette Davis, and Leslie Howard, Sawyer can hold his own. Plus, he gets to give Bogart the greatest introduction that he ever had in a film! You can read my original write up on the film here.

Black Legion – 1937

Black Legion

Sawyer plays Cliff, good friend and work buddy to Bogart. He’s great here as the borderline-intelligent bully that can cause a lot of havoc with just a little effort. He ropes Bogart into the violently anti-immigrant secret society known as The Black Legion, and it all goes downhill from there. Don’t we all know someone like Cliff? That guy or girl who’s incredibly likable one second, and then suddenly spouting some horrible ethnic joke or slur the next? You can read my original write up on the film here.

San Quentin – 1937

San Quentin

Sawyer plays Sailor Boy, the repeat offender who’s serving time with Bogart in San Quentin Prison, and he’s the real standout of the film. Sawyer and Bogart have great chemistry, and of all the films they did together, Sawyer gets the most chance to shine here. Sailor Boy is another role for Sawyer in which he gets to play the likable bad guy, and there’s a real glint of craziness behind his eyes throughout the film. You can find my original write up on the film here.

You Can’t Get Away With Murder – 1939

sawyer 2

Sawyer plays Red, a fellow inmate to Bogart, and for the only time in their collaboration, Sawyer plays a good guy. (You know, except that he’s a convict…) Red is doing his best to play life straight, but when the chance to escape comes up, he jumps at it. The plan eventually fails and everyone is shot or recaptured, except for Sawyer who’s left with an ambiguous ending after disappearing over a wall. Did they catch him? I hope not! After all those gangster and inmate roles, he deserves at least ONE successful escape! You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Roaring Twenties – 1939

Roaring TwentiesJames Cagney, Sawyer, and Bogart

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Sawyer plays The Sergeant, the tough as nails commanding officer who bullies Bogart during the war only to come face to face with him years later after Bogart has become a gangster in a bootlegging operation. The role is small, and Sawyer’s not given much to work with as far as his lines are concerned, but his side story with Bogart plays an integral part to Bogart’s overall character arc. Their final confrontation is one of the triggers that blows up the relationship between Bogart and Cagney. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Deadline U.S.A. – 1952

Screenshot_2015-11-09-21-24-53

The last collaboration between Bogart and Sawyer was Sawyer’s smallest role out of all six of their films together. He plays Whitey Franks, one of the henchmen for a gangster named Rienzi. To be honest, I don’t even remember if Sawyer has any lines here, as his job is to intimidate and rough up one of the witnesses against Rienzi’s. You can read my original write up on the film here.

*The Usual Suspects is an ongoing feature on The Bogie Film Blog where I take time to highlight some of Bogart’s best collaborators. You can read the rest of the entries here.

Black Legion – 1937

blegion

My Review

—Very Good—

Your Bogie Fix:

4 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

(Although, this might be a fix you only go to once or twice in your life…)

Director – Archie Mayo

The Lowdown

When machinist Frank Taylor (Humphrey Bogart) is passed over for a promotion in favor of a young Polish immigrant, he’s outraged. It’s not long before an ultra-conservative, pro-American, secret society called the Black Legion recruits Frank to join their cause – terrorizing local immigrants in an effort to keep shops and businesses strictly American owned and operated. Soon Frank is involved so deeply within the organization that he cannot keep from getting swept along into a series of brutal attacks, and eventually, murder.

What I Thought

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. Now I would easily add Black Legion to that category. Loosely based on a true story, Black Legion took me places emotionally that I wasn’t used to going in a normal Bogart film.

It’s easy to distance yourself from a villain on screen when their violence is outlandish and they talk in constant hyperbole, but Bogart’s Frank Taylor is a family man, and his motivations are actually understandable. He feels that he’s been wronged at work. The promotion should have been his based on seniority and his relationship to the company. When he thinks the job is a sure thing, he begins to dream up ways of spending the money – a new family car and a vacuum for his wife.

These are situations we have all been in. Everyone, at some point, gets passed over at work. (Fairly or unfairly, it always seems wrong when it happens to you.) Everyone has those moments where they optimistically hope for the best and dream for a better future, only to have those dreams dashed with a strong dose of reality.

What makes this such a painful film to watch is that Bogart is not the over-the-top gangster or escaped convict that we’ve seen in so many other films. He’s a normal man in a relatable situation. When those types of people begin to make bad choices, choices with motivations that viewers can relate to, they become some of the scariest film antagonists of all.

The Bogart Factor

Director Archie Mayo seemed to be able to get performances out of Bogart that few other directors even got close to. First he directed him as Duke Mantee in Petrified Forest, and then a year later as Frank Taylor in Black Legion. Bogart disappears more deeply into these two roles, I would argue, than many of his other pictures.

Unlike so many of Bogart’s more iconic characters, Frank Taylor struggles intensely with his self-confidence, is easily swayed by emotion, and suffers from a severe lack of impulse control. This isn’t Bogart’s typical in-control bad guy or ethically superior good guy. This is a flesh and blood real man that we are appalled by, but also understand. It’s certainly some of Bogart’s best work.

The Cast

Several other familiar faces from Petrified Forest also show back up in Black Legion.

Dick Foran, who played football-obsessed Boze in Petrified Forest, is here as Frank’s best friend Ed – a simple factory worker who loves his beer almost as much as he loves his girlfriend. Foran is given a much deeper role to work with in Black Legion and does very well representing the voice of the audience as we watch him eventually lose his temper and confront Frank.

Joe Sawyer, who appeared as Duke Mantee’s thug, Jackie, is Cliff, the man who pulls Frank into the Legion. While not given as layered a role as Foran’s, Sawyer has plenty more to chew on compared to his gun-toting thug in Petrified Forest. Sawyer was born to play the tough guy with his square jaw and broad nose, and he portrays Cliff as the borderline-intelligent bully that can cause a lot of havoc with just a little effort.

Perhaps two of the best supporting actors are Henry Brandon as the Polish immigrant Joe Dombrowski, and Clifford Soubier as the Irish immigrant Mike Grogan. Though they are given small roles, Brandon and Soubier are able to make strong supporting appearances as hardworking men who find themselves caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Erin O’Brien-Moore and Dickie Jones play Bogart’s wife and son, Ruth and Buddy. Both capably play their roles realistically without falling too far into the melodrama trap, giving us an incredibly heartbreaking moment in the final court scenes as Ruth and Frank lock eyes for the last time before he’s taken away.

Ann Sheridan appears as Betty Grogan, Ed’s girlfriend. She’s sweet enough in the role but doesn’t get a lot to work with beyond that.

Make Sure to Notice

Helen Flint as Pearl Davis, a local floozy who has a wonderful drunk scene with Bogart after his wife and child leave him. They play it up so realistically, arguing over how to appropriately sing Home on the Range, that we get a rare, but wonderful, moment of levity in an otherwise bleak film.

Classic Bogie Moment

Bogart, who made dozens of movies where he carried and used firearms, stands before a mirror, gun in hand, admiring the way it looks in his grasp. It empowers him with a false sense of security as he “plays tough,” trying to bolster his desperate lack of confidence. It’s a great counter balance to all the other times in his career where we saw him comfortably use a weapon as if it was an extension of his own arm.

The Bottom Line

Black Legion is a definite must-see for any self-respecting Bogart fan, as Bogie does some of his best character work.

A Little Extra

According to the short documentary on the DVD, the machine shop featured in the film where Bogart works is the actual Warner Brothers machine shop with real employees in the background.