—Short, Harmless Fun—
Bogie Film Fix:
Director: Crane Wilbur
A film director (Fritz Feld) finds the replacement for his leading lady in a new Western after visiting the studio commissary and stumbling across a waitress (Kathryn Kane) who’s perfect for the role.
What I Thought
Any longer than twenty minutes, and this short would have probably gotten old, but as it is, it’s a lot of fun and a good vehicle for two very talented comedic actors, Fritz Feld and Charley Foy.
A story as old as Hollywood itself, Kathryn Kane is plucked from obscurity and made into a star in a fictional Western film helmed by the very nervous Mr. Nitvitch. I’m a little shocked that this one wasn’t made into a full length feature since it’s written and directed as well as any other clichéd old Hollywood film that I’ve seen.
Director/Writer Wilbur turns out to have quite a notorious filmography behind his name (House of Wax anyone?), and this was the second short that he wrote and directed with Bogart – the other being I am an American which will be reviewed on this site soon. Director Wilbur also wrote the Bogart/’Dead End’ Kids collaboration, Crime School, which probably explains their very brief cameo in this film.
In fact, all of the celebrity cameos are brief. George Brent, the Lane sisters, Pat O’Brien, and Bogart and the ‘Dead End’ Kids all flash by the screen in a heartbeat during the film studio commissary scene and none of them have any lines, so don’t expect the star power to add much to this film.
The real treat is watching Fritz Feld and Charley Foy interact while making their musical Western. The two men have great chemistry, and this is the second or third time that I’ve seen Foy pop up in a Bogart film. After I re-watch The Wagon’s Roll at Night, I’m going to have to add him to ‘The Usual Suspects’ portion of this blog as he did a really great job here and he has such a fun and unique look about him.
The Bogart Factor
He’s only on the screen for a few seconds, keeping a watchful eye over the ‘Dead End’ Kids while they eat lunch. Bogart’s tiny and wary interaction with the kids here looks to back up the claim that he soured a bit on working with them after they threw fire crackers into his dressing room on set one afternoon.
If you’re looking for a Bogart fix, this film ain’t it.
Fritz Feld plays the film director, Mr. Nitvitch. His timing is great, the accent is great (real or exaggerated), and this short lives or dies based on his involvement in any given scene.
Charley Foy plays Feld’s right hand man on the movie set, Sammy. Foy is great, and just the little bit of research that I’ve done on him is enough to tell me that this guy has to go into ‘The Usual Suspects’ as one of those actors that probably never got the recognition he deserved. He’s a super solid, very funny side man here alongside of Feld – especially the scene where he and Feld teach Kathryn Kane and John Carroll how to kiss on screen!
Kathryn Kane plays Joan Mason, the young waitress who’s discovered on the job and thrust into the limelight. It’s a pretty two-dimensional role for Kane, but she’s charming enough.
John Carroll plays actor Rick Arden, the star of Feld’s musical Western. Again, he doesn’t really have much to do except stand there and look good in a hat, so he fills the role just fine.
Classic Bogie Moment
Um . . . well. Here’s the entirety of his scene.
The Bottom Line
If you like musicals, want a couple laughs, and have twenty minutes to spare, there are certainly worse ways to do it than by watching this short film.