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.*

Pat O’Brien

San Quentin O'Brien

Name: William Joseph Patrick O’Brien

Birthdate: November 11, 1899

Number of Films Pat O’Brien Made with Humphrey Bogart: 5

The Lowdown

It took me four films to warm up to Pat O’Brien, but that’s largely due to the fact that I started with his two worst Bogart collaborations (China Clipper and San Quentin) and it took a while to get their bad tastes out of my mouth. The good news is that he’s wonderful in The Great O’Malley, and even better in Angels with Dirty Faces, so if you only know O’Brien from his portrayal of Knute Rockne, as I did initially, there’s plenty more to love about him.

Lifelong friends with other Bogie Film Blog favorites James Cagney, Allen Jenkins, and Frank McHugh, it’s only fitting that O’Brien finds his way into the ‘The Usual Suspects,’ and I’m excited to dive a little deeper into the rest of his filmography down the road.

The Filmography

China Clipper – 1936

China Clipper OBrien

O’Brien plays Dave Logan, a veteran war pilot who opens his own oceanic shipping company and then proceeds to abuse his friends and family in order to see his dreams come true. Unfortunately, Logan seems to hit the peak of his character arc mid film and then flounders for the next forty minutes. After alienating his coworkers, working his father to death, and ruining his marriage, Logan learns his lesson and makes his apologies . . . only to continue down the same reckless path and make sure that all of his dreams still come true . . . okay. O’Brien is not to blame for the audience turning on Logan nearly as much as the scriptwriters are, but he just doesn’t have much luck garnering sympathy as the film’s main protagonist when we have to watch him act like a jerk, refuse to change, and still come out on top. Not a great starter film if you want to see a good O’Brien/Bogart collaboration. You can read my original write up here.

The Great O’Malley – 1937

Great OMalley OBrien

O’Brien plays the by-the-book cop, Officer James Aloysius O’Malley – a name almost as lengthy and Irish as the one he was born with! O’Malley is a man that loves to follow the rules and write tickets for everyone else who doesn’t. While he doesn’t have a ton of screen time with Bogart, it’s O’Brien that really pushes this by-the-numbers film from watchable to enjoyable. His OCD-like behavior not only makes for a number of funny moments in the movie, but it also leads to a couple of nice dramatic scenes with Bogart and his family. His final confrontation with Bogart is one of the film’s best tension-filled scenes. You can read my original write up here.

San Quentin – 1937

San Quentin 2 OBrien

O’Brien plays Captain Jameson, the new prison warden at San Quentin Prison, inheriting a riotous group of ne’er-do-well inmates – including a belligerent Bogart. O’Brien only has a one-note character to work with here, and any moments for him to display some real internal conflict (whether or not to date Ann Sheridan, how to handle an insubordinate Barton MacLane, etc.) are downplayed in favor of showing his ease and confidence as the Captain of the yard who has a plan that can solve every problem. I think it would have lent a little more weight to the film if the script had allowed him just a bit of vulnerability. For goodness sakes, he even downplays being shot at the end as if it’s a mere inconvenience! You can read my original write up on the film here.

Angels with Dirty Faces – 1938

Angels with Dirty Faces OBrien

Walking that last mile with Cagney

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O’Brien plays Father Jerry Connolly, James Cagney’s childhood friend and former fellow hoodlum. I was very impressed with O’Brien’s work in this one, as Father Jerry is certainly his most layered and well-rounded character out of all the O’Brien/Bogart collaborations. O’Brien made me believe that he was a man with a darker past, and I admit that I was caught completely off guard when he slugged a patron at a bar for giving him a hard time. It was a realistic moment of fury that helped show the fine balance O’Brien was taking to toe the line between ex-criminal and clergyman. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Swingtime in the Movies – 1938

Pat OBrien SwingtimeIt’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from O’Brien, appearing very briefly as himself in the film studio commissary amidst a whole lineup of film stars who are having lunch.  Bogart appears seconds later with The ‘Dead End’ Kids in a brief cameo as well, but more than likely they weren’t even in the same room at the same time.  Not really worth a watch if you’re looking for a good fix from either man.  You can read my original write up on Swingtime in the Movies here.

Wayne Morris

Kid Galahad Morris

Morris with Jane Bryan and Bogart in ‘Kid Galahad’

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Name: Bert DeWayne Morris

Birthdate: February 17, 1914

Number of Films that Wayne Morris made with Humphrey Bogart: 4

The Lowdown

My first Wayne Morris film was Kid Galahad, and I have to admit that it wasn’t an auspicious start for my journey through his Bogart collaborations. But the more I see Morris on screen, the more he grows on me. Typically playing goodhearted, albeit slightly dim, hunks, Morris had a chance in his all-too-short life to stand against some of Hollywood’s greatest legends before suffering a fatal heart attack at the very young age of 45.

With a promising leading man career ahead of him, Morris left Hollywood behind to follow a passion in flying that led him to receiving great honors for his service in World War II. After the war, Morris could never seem to get another big break in A-list films, but he did get one last good movie role opposite Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory. Would it have been enough to carry him back up to a career resurgence? Most likely not, as he spent the next few years before his death appearing in various television Westerns, but it definitely showed that there was more to the good-statured blond than just his looks and his smile!

If you’ve got more interest in Morris and his military service, make sure to check out @HollywoodComet’s write up on him here.

The Filmography

China Clipper – 1936

China Clipper Morris

With Bogart and a few others . . .

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It’s a blink and you’ll miss him role (as I did the first time I watched this film) as Morris plays the flight navigator next to Bogart on the Clipper. You could certainly do worse than starring with Bogart and Pat O’Brien in your very first film, right? You can read my original write up on the film here.

Kid Galahad – 1937

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With Harry Carey

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Morris plays the title role of Kid Galahad. He seems a bit stiff and dopey, but it was still fairly early in his career, and the script didn’t give him a lot to work with. But the moment Morris smiles on screen, you can’t take your eyes off of him! I can see why the studio thought that he had potential as a leading man. Plus, he gets to slug Bogart, steal Bette Davis’ heart, and work alongside of Edward G. Robinson. This had to have been a big thrill for the young actor as he went toe-to-toe with so many great Hollywood stars. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Men are Such Fools – 1938

Men are Such Fools Morris

With Priscilla Lane

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Morris plays Jimmy Hall, the love interest to Priscilla Lane, and unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure what else to even say about his character here. In an incredibly strangely scripted film, we watch characters make a lot of choices without any motivation or reason to back them up. Yet, Morris still comes off as the best part of this movie with his good looks and charm shining brightly, and once again, he gets to knock Bogart flat as they play romantic rivals fighting for Lane’s love. It was heartbreaking to see Morris so likable with so little good material. A better script – even a barely decent script – and this film could have been so much better. If nothing else, you can spend some time enjoying what men’s bathing suits used to look like!

men are such fools swimsuits

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

The Return of Doctor X – 1939Return of Doctor X Morris

With Dennis Morgan

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I’m an unabashed fan of this cult classic, so it was so much fun to see Morris shine as the Wichita-hick-moved-to-the-big-city reporter, Walter Garrett. He’s bumbling, affable, naïve, and just charming enough to make his character enjoyable to watch. Morris deftly handles the campy comedy and the (somewhat) tension filled moments with grace and ease. Some of my favorite Morris moments:

Morris: (ON THE PHONE, REPORTING THE INITIAL MURDER OF AN ACTRESS THAT SPURS HIS INVESTIGATION) There’s nobody here except a monkey, and he couldn’t have done it!

Is it strange that a washed up actress has a pet monkey? Not to Morris, apparently! Not enough to mention anyways.

And then there’s the scene where Morris’ reporter has to convince Dennis Morgan’s respected surgeon, Dr. Rhodes, to go see if Bogart is really a corpse that’s returned to the land of the living:

Morris: The burial took place at Greenlawn Cemetary. Okay, let’s go out to the cemetery and find out tonight.

Morgan: (SHRUGGING NONCHALANTLY, AS IF JUST ASKED OUT FOR COFFEE) All right.

Yup! Nothing strange about big city reporter and a respected surgeon digging up graves in the middle of night! Nope, typical evening in the big city!

Morris’ relationship with Morgan comes off very much as a precursor to the Mulder/Scully relationship in The X-Files – and I say that as a huge X-Files fan. You can read my original write up on the film here.

China Clipper – 1936

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My Review

—Starts Strong, Ends Weak— 

Your Bogie Fix:

2 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Ray Enright

The Lowdown

Dave Logan (Pat O’Brien) is a veteran war pilot who becomes obsessed with the globalization of commercial air transport.  Unfortunately, his passion comes at the cost of his wife, friends, and coworkers.

What I Thought

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.

This is the second Bogart picture from director Ray Enright that I’ve watched for the blog.  The first, Swing Your Lady, was a lot of silly fun, but certainly had its issues.  China Clipper is a complete dramatic reversal in tone from Lady, and while it starts strong, it eventually peters out, overstaying its welcome by a good thirty minutes.

We watch as Pat O’Brien’s retired war pilot, Dave Logan, passionately decides to follow his dreams after seeing Lindbergh cross the ocean.  He believes that oceanic commercial air travel is the future, and he’s willing to gamble everything to get it.  Perhaps the strongest scene in the film comes with Logan lying in bed with his wife (Beverly Roberts) just after learning that she wants to leave him.  O’Brien pulls her close, apologizes for neglecting her, and then convinces her to stick it out just a little longer.  It’s touching moment, and O’Brien plays it wonderfully.  In fact, the first half of this movie is some of the best work I’ve ever seen O’Brien do, especially when he confronts, and moves on from, his wife leaving him.

The problem comes about midway through the film.  Dave Logan 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, no one questions him.

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.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart’s enjoyability in this film runs parallel to the movie’s.  For the first half, he’s great to watch as Hap Stuart, Logan’s old war buddy who comes looking for a job with the new airline company.  He’s wry, witty, and loyal – traits not unfamiliar to some of his best roles.  But again, once the film shifts to extended scenes of the final plane flight, we’re relegated to fairly static shots of Bogart sitting behind the controls, doing his best to look focused and alert.

There are a few good moments here, but overall, it’s not a must see performance.

The Cast

Beverly Roberts is good as Dave’s wife, Jean Logan, but there’s not a whole lot of meat in the script for her to work with.  She has a solid scene towards the end, though, when she has a great fight with Dave about working for his airline.

Ross Alexander plays Dave’s closest friend, Tom Collins, and he was the stand out performance for me in this film.  He adds a lot of humor, has a great side story with a ditzy girlfriend, and is able to hold his own on screen with both O’Brien and Bogart.  I was saddened to learn that Alexander’s career was cut short after he took his own life at a young age due to personal turmoil.  I’m going to have to see what else is in his filmography though, as he’s very good.

Henry B. Walthall as Dave Logan’s father, Dad Brunn, is another standout for the film.  He plays Dad as the loving father who’s willing to break his back for his son, and it’s a very sympathetic role.  I was also saddened to learn that he died during the making of this film, and had to be written out.  Ironically, scenes involving Dad Brunn’s weak heart were already shot, and are included in the movie.

Classic Bogie Moment

There’s a scene midway through the film where Bogart takes O’Brien out to a hallway to scold him for his calloused behavior while their coworkers look on.  Watch as Bogart builds up to the big punch after he resigns from the airline.  We get a close up on Bogart’s face, and right before he loses his temper, we see his lips part just a bit and tighten up against his teeth.  It’s a little physicality that I recognized from countless other Bogart movies.  (And a great tell if you were ever in a fistfight with the guy!  If his lips tighten, duck!)

The Bottom Line

While O’Brien has a handful of great scenes, and several actors in his supporting cast are stellar, this one won’t give you a great Bogie fix.  In fact, you’ll find yourself shaking your fist at the screen, wondering why they didn’t just put a mannequin in that danged pilot’s seat for the last twenty minutes of the film.