Mary Astor

Astor Bogart Maltese Falcon 3Birth Name: Lucile Vasconcellos Langhanke

Birth: May 3, 1906

Death: September 25, 1987

Number of Films Mary Astor Made with Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Lowdown

Born and raised in Quincy, Illinois, Mary Astor was groomed by her parents from a very early age to be a star. It only took a series of beauty pageants to get her noticed by a Hollywood agent who signed her to a contract that had her doing bit parts in silent films starting at the age of only fourteen.

After slowly building up to a solid and very successful career, Astor seemed to peak in 1941 when she won an Oscar for her role in The Great Lie, the same year that she appeared in the cinema classic The Maltese Falcon alongside of Humphrey Bogart. Astor’s life was apparently a troubled one though, filled with affairs, divorces, the death of a husband, depression, a suicide attempt, and a heart ailment.

What I loved about her two films with Bogart was the way that she was able to distinguish two characters that, at first glance, seem to share so much in common. One is a sultry, dangerous, femme fatale. The other is a slightly naïve gal in over her head and forced to put on a ruse in order to save someone she loves. Yet, both start out as women of mystery, and we don’t have any idea whose side they’re really on until the plot has finally resolved itself.

And to be honest, this whole write up is just an excuse to post the pic below from Across the Pacific. If I ever bumped into that gal on a boat and the only other man aboard was Sydney Greenstreet – well, it quickly becomes apparent how easily someone could fall for Astor in real life or on screen.

The Filmography

The Maltese Falcon – 1941

Astor Bogart Falcon 2

Astor plays femme fatale Brigid O’Shaughnessy, the woman who pulls Bogart into the danger and mystery surrounding the small, but priceless, falcon statuette. According to a few different bios and websites, Director Huston had Astor run around the set before takes in order to lend a constant breathless quality to her performance. After re-watching this film for the umpteenth time, I have to say that it certainly seems to be true and it works well for her performance. Astor’s reputation as a woman who liked to spend time with lots of different men supposedly helped create a lot of excitement for this one when it came out. While that aspect might be lost on modern day viewers, Astor is still amazing in the role – hitting all the right notes and keeping the audience’s sympathies, despite a string of nonstop lies and manipulations. I saw this one before Across the Pacific, and I have to admit that it took me a few viewings of Pacific to forgive her for the way that she treats Bogart in Falcon. I think it’s a testament to her talent that she’s so good and playing someone so bad. Astor also reprised her role as Brigid on a few different radio broadcasts alongside of Bogart and Greenstreet. You can read my original write up on the film here.

In This Our Life – 1942

Regardless of what the filmographies may say, Astor’s not in this one! Directed by John Huston, rumor had it that Bogart, Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and a few others had appeared in the movie as background players for a scene to add a little in-joke for Falcon fans. Whether the scene was cut from the film, or just a hoax to begin with, none of them are visible. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Across the Pacific – 1942

Greenstreet Bogart Astor

Reteaming with Director John Huston, Bogart, and Sydney Greenstreet, Astor plays Alberta Marlow, the mysterious woman who’s sailing with Bogart and Greenstreet through the Panama Canal on their way to Asia. I really, really loved Astor here, even more than in The Maltese Falcon. She gorgeous, funny, flirtatious, and so wonderfully girl-next-door-ish that I found it much easier to believe that Bogart would fall in love with her. Again, Astor reprised her role alongside of Bogart and Greenstreet on the radio. Good grief, just the scene from the pic above brings me so much joy that even if this film had been awful, the chemistry between these three stars would have been worth the effort! You can read my original write up 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.*

Bette Davis

Dark Victory 3Bette Davis With Humphrey Bogart in Dark Victory

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Real Name:  Ruth Elizabeth Davis

Birthdate:  April 5, 1908

Number of films Bette Davis made with Humphrey Bogart:  7

The Lowdown:

When the subject of typical Bogart costars comes up, it’s strange to me that Bette Davis is rarely mentioned, especially when you consider that they made seven different films together.  In one of the films, they only have brief cameos and don’t even meet (Thank Your Lucky Stars), and in a few more, Bogart plays minor roles and their interaction is minimum (The Bad Sister, Three on a Match), but considering how little they’re paired in cinematic conversation, these two had a few really great roles together!

The Filmography

The Bad Sister – 1931

The Bad Sister

In her very first film, Davis plays Laura Madison, a wallflower who’s stuck in the shadow of her older sister Marianne (Sidney Fox).  While Davis and Bogart share next to no screen time together, it’s still a strong early showing for both actors as they each do their fair share of scene stealing from their more established costars.  If you’re like me, you’ll spend most of the film wondering why every guy in town is going after Sidney Fox when Bette Davis is standing right there!!!  You can find my original write up on the film here.

Three on a Match – 1932

3 on a Match

Davis plays Ruth Wescott, the “good girl” next to Joan Blondell’s reformed “bad girl” and Ann Dvorak’s “bad girl” in the making.  Davis’ part is not nearly as developed as Blondell’s or Dvorak’s, and she was supposedly at odds with director Mervyn LeRoy because he didn’t like her acting, but she’s gorgeous and lots of fun in what scenes she does get.  Since Bogart doesn’t come in until the last act of the film, the two don’t meet.  But it is, once again, a strong showing from both of them.  Davis is solidifying the “girl next door” persona that she played many times early on in her career, and Bogart lays down another very strong gangster performance.  You can find my original write up on the film here.

The Petrified Forest – 1936

petrified forestDavis swoons over Leslie Howard’s intellectual loner . . .

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Davis plays Gabrielle (Gabby) Maple, a café owner’s daughter who’s desperate to get out of the desert so that she can see the world.  Bogart is, of course, Duke Mantee, the outlaw gangster – a role that he originated on Broadway.  While Bogart spends most of his lines squaring off against Leslie Howard, he and Davis do spend much of the film in the same frame as almost all of the action takes place within the café.  Again, both actors continue to elevate their status as the “girl next door” and the tough as nails gangster, respectively.  This is, by far, my favorite film out of all seven that they made together.  You can find my original write up on the film here.

Marked Woman – 1937

Marked WomanDavis coming for Bogart’s help – a little too late . . .

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Davis plays Mary, a nightclub “hostess” that runs afoul of her gangster boss (Eduardo Ciannelli) when her kid sister (Jane Bryan) gets caught up in her troubles.  Davis is passionate in the role, and is certainly the highlight of the film.  Bogart plays Assistant District Attorney David Graham, and while the two have several key scenes together, Bogart’s character really seems to only be around for plot advancement.  It’s a decent film, and a strong showing for Davis, but a bit of a let down for Bogart considering that it’s a smaller role than their last film together.  You can find my original write up on the film here.

Kid Galahad – 1937

Kid GalahadDavis – getting ready to watch Bogart take one on the chin . . .

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Davis plays Edward G. Robinson’s gangster moll, Fluff, with such a sweet and naïve quality that I was left wondering for the first half of the movie how she ended up with Robinson.  There is a brief scene in a car with Wayne Morris where she alludes to a darker past, but come on, Bette!  You can do better!  Bogart and Davis don’t spend a lot of time together, as she’s usually in the background while Bogart deals with Edward G. Robinson or Wayne Morris.

bette

The first party scene in the hotel though, where she’s serving drinks in a flower print dress with a low neckline . . . whew – she is GORGEOUS!  How did Edward G. Robinson get so lucky?  You can find my original write up on the film here.

Dark Victory – 1939

Dark Victory 2Bogart and Davis in, what I would consider, their best shared scene ever!

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Davis plays Judith Traherne, a wealthy young party girl whose life goes into a dramatic about-face after she’s diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Bogart is the Irish horse trainer (no, the accent is not as bad as you’ve heard) who’s in love with her, and the scenes they share together are some of the most dynamic in the film.  It’s a shame that Bogart’s role is so small, but he was also splitting his time between this film and The Oklahoma Kid.  Davis was reported to be dealing with a lot of personal turmoil during the film, as she was involved with costar George Brent while her marriage was falling apart.  It seems to only add to her emotional performance, as the film contains some of the most passionate and energetic acting of her career to that point.  There was also a happier ending to the film that followed Bogart to the racetrack as he led Davis’ favorite racehorse to a victory, but it was determined to be too abrupt of a tonal shift and was left on the cutting room floor.  You can find my original write up on the film here.

In This Our Life – 1942

In This Our Life

It’s the film listed in Bogart’s filmography that Bogart’s not even in!  Directed by John Huston, rumor had it that Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and a few others had appeared in the movie as background players for a scene to add a little “in-joke” for Huston fans.  Whether the scene was cut out from the film or just a hoax to begin with, none of them are visible.  So while this one is listed in their shared filmography, I’m not counting it as one of the seven they made together.

But . . . Davis plays Stanley Timberlake, a borderline-sociopathic bad girl that steals her sister’s husband.  It’s a wild role for Davis, and another big step down the road away from some of the “girl next door” roles that she’d played during the first decade of her career.  She’s a liar, a cheat, a scoundrel, and a temptress – and it’s a truly amazing performance for Davis.  You can find my original write up on the film here.

Thank Your Lucky Stars – 1943

Thank Your

Davis plays herself in this cameo-filled extravaganza that showcases a whole boatload of Hollywood’s finest performers singing and dancing for a variety show hosted by Eddie Cantor.  Davis is very good as she walks into a fancy nightclub and sings “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” for all the gents who are drinking in the place.  Davis actually injured herself during the final take of the dance portion of the number, and you can see her holding her leg as she stands outside by her car.  Unfortunately, Davis and Bogart don’t share any screen time in this, the final film that they share together.  You can find my original write up on the film here.

The Usual Suspects is an ongoing series of posts about some of Bogart’s more regular collaborators.  You can check out other entries in the series here.

In This Our Life – 1942

In this our life poster

My Review

—A Thrilling Look at a Sociopath— 

Bogie Film Fix:

NO BOGIE NO BOGIES out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  John Huston

The Lowdown

Stanley Timberlake (Bette Davis) is a woman who’s never afraid to take what she wants.  Unfortunately for her sister Roy (Olivia de Havilland), Stanley wants her brother-in-law Peter (Dennis Morgan).

What I Thought

Here’s my first major disappointment while blogging about Bogart.  While I really loved this movie, it was a huge letdown for me to discover that Bogart is nowhere to be seen within it.  According to every online and book-bound Bogart filmography available, Bogart’s credited with a small cameo in the film.  IMDB says he’s an uncredited dancer on a roadhouse table.  The official Humphrey Bogart Estate site claims that he has a cameo as a tavern owner.  After a careful, frame by frame, examination of both bar/tavern scenes, I can definitively say that Humphrey Bogart is nowhere in this picture.

Directed by John Huston, rumor had it that Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and a few others had appeared in the movie as background players for a scene to add a little “in-joke” for Huston fans.  Whether the scene was cut out from the film, or just a hoax to begin with, none of them are visible.

So!  Moving forward – while I’m disappointed that I didn’t find Mr. Bogart, I made a decision early on to blog about every Bogart film in his filmography, and this film is still listed in his credits!  (Plus, it’s a great movie and deserves as much attention as it can get!)

Bette Davis and George Brent are reunited for the second time on this blog (the first being Dark Victory) in a completely different kind of relationship.  Stanley Timberlake (Davis) is in a committed relationship with Craig Fleming (Brent), but she dumps him in a heartbeat when her brother-in-law Peter (Dennis Morgan) agrees to run away with her.

It’s a wild role for Davis, as she’s playing a much more ruthless, heartless, selfish, borderline-sociopathic role than usual.  Instead of using her girl next door charms to win over hearts, she uses them to slowly destroy her relationships with friends and family, and then to literally destroy several lives.  She’s a liar, a cheat, a scoundrel, and temptress – and it’s truly an amazing role for the young Davis.

One of the best things about the film is that we’re left to ponder one of the big unexplained mysteries of the script – why do Davis and de Havilland’s characters both have male names?  My guess (and perhaps it’s actually explained in the novel that the film is based on) is that their father wanted boys, and they were raised in a house filled with subconscious regret and resentment.  Could this have led Stanley down her road of deviousness?  Is this what hardened Roy’s heart to move on so quickly after her husband leaves her?  It’s not explained, and doesn’t need to be, but it’s a great bit to ponder long after the film is over.

This was my first viewing of In This Our Life, and I’ve never heard or seen much press on it before.  John Huston has filmed a great psychological drama/thriller, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Bogart Factor

He doesn’t factor in at all!  What’s the story?  How did this rumor start?  Was a scene actually filmed?  Did Huston find it too distracting to have all those famous stars in the background?  Was the scene cut from my newer copy of the film?  Is Bogart really there, but all we get is an elbow or the back of his head?  Was it a hoax started by a fan or reporter?  Does the scene exist but in a different movie?

There are two scenes that take place in a bar/roadhouse.  I watched them both on an HD screen multiple times.  If Bogart’s there, it’s so slight that it makes no difference.  Part of me wants to argue that it’s probably a hoax, as it would seem silly to get all those stars together just for a short joke.  But if they were all still under contract, they could have all been on the lot, and it might have been an easy shoot . . .

Either way, I’ve emailed the Humphrey Bogart Estate to ask them their opinion, and I’ll post it if I get a response!

The Cast

George Brent and Olivia de Havilland were excellent as the spurned lovers, Craig Fleming and Roy Timberlake.  I thought Huston handled their courtship with perfection, and it was a much more believable take on how people fall in love in the real world, rather than with cinema magic.

Dennis Morgan has plenty of angst in the role of Peter Kingsma, Davis’ wild fling that goes horribly wrong.  I need to check out his other films!

Perhaps the standout of the film is Charles Coburn as Uncle William.  There’s a great scene in his den as Bette Davis tries to ask/flirt for money.  It’s here that we get the crux of Stanley’s tragic flaw as Uncle William explains to her that they’re both cut from the same cloth.  When they want something, they just take it – regardless of the consequences.

Classic Bogie Bette Moment

I’ll give Bette Davis an honorary nod here since Bogie’s not in the film.

There was a second in the movie that I was almost ready to give Bette’s wild home-wrecker one more chance.  She’s standing by her new console radio with her shoes resting on top of it, daydreaming about some unknown mischief.  As the music plays, she subtly begins to dance the shoes with her hands in time to the music.  It’s exactly the kind of thing that would have made me fall in love with her in any other film, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that creeps you out as you watch it here with Davis in such a dastardly role.

The Bottom Line

No Bogie, but GREAT Bette.  I’ll take it.