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!

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse – 1938

Amazing Dr C Poster

My Review

—Worth a Watch—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

2.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: Anatole Litvak

The Lowdown

A wealthy physician (Edward G. Robinson) moonlights as a gangster to do research on the criminal mind.

What I Thought

Go ahead and get all the giggles out over the name of the film. Yes, even Bogart referred to this movie with a less than flattering parody of the title. (For those of you who are Seinfeld fans, it rhymes with ‘Delores.’)

What we have here is a pretty entertaining dark comedy that tends to err more on the side of dark and less on the side of comedy, but other than that, I really have no complaints about the film. I think casting Robinson and Bogart as two of the leads lends a little more gravitas to the script than was originally intended. Even though both men could play comedy very well, it’s easy to forget that there are laughs to be had during this film until some over-the-top slapstick or hijinks ensue.

Director Anatole Litvak spent most of his career doing heavy drama, and perhaps that touch was hard to leave behind for a more ‘comedic’ film, but Litvak’s still a very capable director and he gives us a lot of great shots of some of Hollywood’s most interesting faces. Was it his choice to have Robinson and Bogart play their roles straighter than the original play? I don’t know. Regardless, it doesn’t completely spoil the fun, and it’s still a must see for Robinson fans.

The Bogart Factor

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 Robinson’s intentions, but no one will believe his doubts. And so for about the fourth or fifth movie, everyone who might have survived in the end is dead because they didn’t listen to Bogie!

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 Classic Bogie Moment below . . .

The Cast

Edward G. Robinson is great here as Dr. Clitterhouse. Yes, I wish that he’d been a little less thoughtful and subdued so that more comedy could have seeped into the role, but the guy is just so doggone watchable onscreen that it’s hard to criticize anything he does. He gets to have some great scenes with both Claire Trevor and Bogart – especially their final confrontation together in his office. If you’re a Robinson fan and you haven’t heard about it yet, you should check out this Spanish blog by Gonzalo. He’s posting on Robinson in a similar vein to The Bogie Film Blog. (I use Google translate since I don’t speak Spanish.)

Claire Trevor plays Jo Keller, the jewel fence that Robinson turns to when he needs to move some diamonds. Trevor is a lot of fun here, and a great double bill would be to watch The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse back to back with Key Largo in order to enjoy Trevor, Robinson, and Bogart taking on wonderfully varied roles. Trevor’s unrequited pining for Robinson is great as we truly believe she’s fallen in love with the mind behind the man.

Donald Crisp plays Inspector Lane, the investigating officer into Robinson’s heists. I thought the chemistry between Crisp and Robinson was great, and their scenes as good friends were especially well done. It leads to a great climactic finish when the arrest is finally made. Crisp and Robinson also share some really good scenes in Brother Orchid as well, and I need to do a cross reference and see if they did any more films together.

Max ‘Slapsie Maxie’ Rosenbloom plays Claire Trevor’s right-hand man, Butch, and he’s very good in the role. Perhaps the most sympathetic character in the film, I was probably more worried about Butch’s outcome than any other character!

A number of other great character actors fill out Bogart’s gang, most notably is Bogie Film Blog favorite Allen Jenkins as Okay. He spends most of his screen time mugging around with Max Rosenbloom, and it’s another solid performance for Jenkins. I’m anxious to see the rest of his Bogart films so that I can add Jenkins to The Usual Suspects!

Classic Bogie Moment

If you’re going to get held up and forced to be the front for a criminal empire, wouldn’t you prefer to have it done in style by this man?

Bogart Amazing Dr Classic

The knee over the arm of the chair is the perfect choice! One of the little flourishes that Bogart adds to the role to elevate it above a typical thug.

The Bottom Line

There’s enough to enjoy from both Robinson and Bogart to make up for anything lacking in the script or tone.