Stand-In -1937

Stand In Poster

My Review

—It Has It’s Moments— 

Your Bogie Film Fix:

2.5 Bogie

Director:  Tay Garnett

The Lowdown

A by-the-book accountant (Leslie Howard) audits a Hollywood movie studio and is wooed by a former child star (Joan Blondell).

What I Thought

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke describes some of the key symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome as “poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, an intense interest or fascination with specific topics, and physical clumsiness.” While behavioral science was still decades away from coining the name for the condition, Director Tay Garnett and film star Leslie Howard created a character who so perfectly exhibits the symptoms, it’s like they had a textbook from which to work.

Howard’s Atterbury Dodd is a classic case of Asperger’s if there ever was one.

He is consumed with numbers to the point that he believes all of life can be broken down as if it’s an equation waiting to be solved.  He so lacks empathy with others during conversations that he can hardly recognize the chaos he creates around himself – missing obvious social cues and/or revealing unfortunate blunt truths that most people would keep to themselves. He’s also a walking-accident as he fumbles, bumps, falls, gets walked upon, and even gets tossed over the shoulder of the young lady who’s trying to woo him.

So to what does all this lead? A man who’s so obsessed with the numbers in his head that instead of picking up on the flirtations of the young, blonde, former child star in front of him, he judo-throws her over his shoulder and against the wall. Oh, don’t worry, she doesn’t hold it against him – after all, with such a lack of able bodied men in Hollywood, a lady can’t be picky, right?

And therein lies the main problem with this film. The love story at the heart of the plot, which is meant to create the emotional core for the entire story, is just not believable.  What in the world does Joan Blondell’s administrative assistant see in Leslie Howard’s oblivious accountant? He’s handsome. Oh, and then there’s . . . well, he’s handsome, I guess.

Howard’s accountant only cares about the studio’s bottom line, never minding for a second the hundreds of employees that make their living from the films that are being made. He ignores anything resembling a compassionate thought, only displaying any desire or emotion whatsoever while making an attempt to court a ditsy Hollywood starlet (Marla Shelton) who’s only playing him for her boss (C. Henry Gordon).

To be fair, I’m being pretty hard on what’s meant to be a harmless romantic comedy. Lots of great character actors are solid in their supporting roles, and Bogart is quite good in a smaller supporting role, but shouldn’t a romantic comedy at least be built upon believable chemistry between its stars?

Not a must see by any means unless you’re a die hard Howard, Blondell, or Bogart fan. All three of them have some good bits sprinkled throughout the film, but the script just doesn’t do enough to support them.

The Bogart Factor

Playing movie producer Doug Quintain, Bogart has probably the most realistic and interesting character in the entire film. An occasionally boozy movie exec with a thing for the leading lady (Marla Shelton) of his current cinematic disaster, Bogart is a reluctant ally to Howard’s intrusive accountant – fully aware that the hopes and dreams manufactured for the silver screen by his studio are being propped up with nothing more than the flimsiest of set dressings.

Quintain is mired up to his shoulders in the silliness of Tinsel Town, but his deep passion and appreciation for the business, and the people who work within it, make him fight until the end to keep the studio afloat.

It’s a solid outing for Bogart, so while the film is probably not a must see for casual fans, those who love Bogie’s comedic side will find some good stuff here.

The Cast

Leslie Howard plays Atterbury Dodd, the aforementioned math-obsessed accountant. Howard’s good in the role, fussily obsessed with the minutia of Hollywood bookkeeping (And what the heck is the deal with the ashtrays?  Such a wonderful quirk for Howard and Director Garnett to add!), but as I stated earlier, all of his chemistry with Joan Blondell suffers because, well, people who don’t feel empathy have a hard time garnering sympathy. It’s hard to understand why Blondell is in love with him. It’s hard to understand why he finally returns the affections for a woman that he cannot identify with.

That said, there are a few really great scenes in the film between Howard and Blondell, and between Howard and Bogart. When Blondell tries to teach Howard judo, we get perhaps the greatest laugh in the film. And when Howard finally teams up with Bogart to save a movie production, it’s the camaraderie that we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the movie.

Also, the scene at the end where Howard is literally overrun by unemployed studio laborers, only to finally learn how to talk humanely to his fellow man, is handled very well, and it’s one of the few moments of believable character growth that we’re given for his Dodd.

Joan Blondell plays former child star Lester Plum, who spends her days in this film as a stand-in for Marla Shelton and as an administrative assistant to Howard’s accountant. Other than the complete lack of logic behind her attraction for Howard’s character (he tossed her across the room for goodness sakes!), Blondell does a great job as the spunky girl-next-door who sees the humanity behind the Hollywood machine. Blondell is super cute, garners what little pathos the film’s clunky plot can muster, and is able to create laughs even when the script falls flat. Plus, her dictation scene with Howard is hands-down the best moment of the film.

Bogie Film Blog favorite Jack Carson plays the buffoonish publicist Tom Potts. I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but Carson actually achieves a level of obnoxiousness that left me disliking his character. Not that he did a bad job!  Actually, I think it’s a credit to his acting skill that he was able to make himself unlovable despite how gosh darn likable he always tends to be in every film! A great showing by a great character actor.

Alan Mowbray does a wonderful job as a thick-accented wannabe auteur, Koslosfski. If anything, the film could have benefited from a few more scenes as good as the one in which he pitches a fit over using artificial flowers on a back lot ski slope film set.

Maria Shelton plays the leading lady in Bogart’s horrible film, Miss Cheri. It’s an uphill battle for Shelton to get any attention here as she’s tasked with acting next to Bogart, Howard, Blondell, and the wonderfully over-the-top Alan Mowbray, so there’s not much room for her to shine here, but she does fine establishing herself as the pampered diva.

Henry Gordon plays Nassau, the businessman who’s trying to swindle his way into getting Howard to sell him the movie studio at a greatly reduced price. Again, not a huge role, but Gordon does well in establishing his character.

Classic Bogie Moment

GetAttachment

This look of death says it all, doesn’t it? There’s a desperate madman in there somewhere, always ready to spring out.

The Bottom Line

Worth a watch if it pops up on TCM, but probably not worth going out of your way to find on Amazon for thirty or forty bucks!

Leslie Howard

howard and bogartLeslie Howard with Humphrey Bogart in The Petrified Forest
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Name: Leslie Howard (Steiner)

Birthdate: April 3, 1893

Number of Films Leslie Howard Made With Humphrey Bogart:  2

The Lowdown:

If you were going to make a “Top 3” list of actors that deserve to be listed under “The Usual Suspects” portion of this blog, first on the list would probably have to be Lauren Bacall.  (I’m getting to it!)  Second, perhaps, might be someone like Peter Lorre – who was not only a common collaborator, but also a close friend to Bogart.  And while other actors might be able to argue for the third spot, I would personally have to give it to Leslie Howard.

Friends with Bogart since their time together on Broadway, it’s generally accepted that Howard was the one who insisted that Bogart get the chance to play the role of ‘Duke’ Mantee in the filmed version of the play that they’d appeared together in on Broadway.  While Bogart had big roles in a number of movies prior to Forest, the role of ‘Duke’ Mantee was arguably his “breakout role.”  And while it would take another thirty or so films to cement his place into Classic Hollywood history, Bogart was so grateful for the friendship and the opportunity that Howard provided him, that he and Lauren Bacall named their daughter Leslie Howard Bogart in honor of their good friend.

Born in London to a Jewish father and a Christian mother, Howard began his theater career in London, eventually moving to the U.S. where he would go on to gain his greatest success on Broadway and in Hollywood before finally returning to his home country during World War II.  Howard’s career was unfortunately cut short when a squad of German Luftwaffe shot down his commercial airliner on a trip from Portugal to the United Kingdom.  Howard was just fifty years old.

It’s with great pleasure that I can add Leslie Howard to the growing list of “The Usual Suspects.”  Without his support, Bogart’s film career would likely have never reached the legendary heights and worldwide accolades that it did, and Classic Hollywood might have missed out on recognizing its greatest star!

The Filmography

The Petrified Forest – 1936

howard and davisBette Davis with Howard in The Petrified Forest
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Howard plays Alan Squier, a drifter/writer/rambler who’s hitchhiking his way across the U.S. when he walks into a little gas station café in the Arizona desert for a “bar-bee-cue.”  He meets Gabby Maple (Bette Davis), the daughter of the café’s owner, and she quickly falls in love with him.  Squier knows that it’s not a good match and moves on, only to find himself returning to the gas station to use his intellect and wits to save the day when notorious gangster ‘Duke’ Mantee (Bogart) commandeers the café while on the run from the authorities.

Howard’s Squier is a depressed wanderer at heart.  He’s loaded down with emotional baggage and seems to be struggling to find a reason to keep on living.  Why is he headed to the ocean?  To throw himself in?  Perhaps. . .

Howard portrays the depressive intellectual wonderfully, and his playful banter with Bette Davis is both the heart and the backbone of the film.  We believe that Howard’s mind is stimulated by Davis’ ingénue intellectual-in-the-making.  Do we believe that he’d really turn down her advances and move on with his journey?  Well, the script says that he must, so I guess we have to believe it too.  But doggone it, I wouldn’t have been able to walk away from that smile.

Squier eventually makes the ultimate sacrifice as he strikes a deal with Duke to ensure that Gabby will be able to achieve her dream of escaping the café.

My original write up on the film can be found here . . .

Stand-In – 1937

howard and bogartHoward with Bogart in Stand-In
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Howard plays Atterbury Dodd, the math-obsessed bank accountant who’s sent to Hollywood so that he can audit a studio.

I don’t know when Asperger’s Syndrome was first diagnosed as a legitimate condition, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that Atterbury Dodd has a classic case of it.  He’s completely oblivious to many common social cues, he has trouble feeling empathy, and he becomes obsessed over logic and minutia.  Howard’s great in the role, but unfortunately, all the chemistry between him and Joan Blondell suffers because, well, people who don’t feel empathy have a hard time garnering sympathy.  It’s hard to understand why Blondell is in love with him.  It’s hard to understand why he finally returns the affections for a woman that he cannot identify with.

All that being said, there are a few really great scenes in the film between Howard and Blondell, and between Howard and Bogart.  When Blondell tries to teach Howard judo, we get perhaps the greatest laugh in the film.  And when Howard finally teams up with Bogart to save a movie production, it’s the camaraderie that we’ve been waiting for since the beginning of the movie.

Also, the scene at the end where Howard is literally overrun by unemployed studio laborers, only to finally learn how to talk humanely to his fellow man, is handled very well, and it’s one of the few moments of believable character growth that we’re given for his Atterbury Dodd.

You can read 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.

Big City Blues – 1932

Big City Blues

My Review

—A Good Comedy Turns Ugly— 

Your Bogie Fix:

1 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Mervyn Leroy

The Lowdown

Small town boy Buddy Reeves (Eric Linden) takes a train bound for New York in order to follow his dreams, but it’s not long before his swindling cousin Gibby (Walter Catlett) lands him in hot water after they throw a party with tragic consequences.

What I Thought

This one was a must see for me since it was Bogart’s first film with Warner Brothers, the studio that would eventually turn him into a worldwide star.  With a running time of just over an hour, it’s a quick watch, which works in the movie’s favor as any more time spent with these two-dimensional characters would probably start to become a little taxing on the viewer.  While I did find a few good things to like about Big City Blues, it seemed like a film that was confused with its own genre.

Is Big City Blues a warm-hearted fish out of water story?  It certainly begins that way.  As we watch Buddy Reeves leave his dog behind and wander around the big city in search of the American dream, we can’t help but get a little caught up in his wide-eyed naiveté.  Two grandfatherly train station agents give Buddy a ribbing about his high hopes for New York and send him on his way with a pat on the back.  Then, when we meet his fast talking, money leeching cousin, Gibby, we’re ready to watch Buddy learn a few hard lessons about trust, before finally mastering the fine art of big city survival through a little earned cynicism.

Is Big City Blues a comedy?  Yes!  There are all sorts of great comedic moments, many stemming from the wonderfully funny character work done by Walter Catlett as Cousin Gibby.  This was a role that Catlett was born to play.  He’s a tornado of energy and bravado as he whirls through each scene, keeping the other characters spinning like plates in the air as he spews out one flattering lie after another in an attempt to garner as much cash and freebies as possible.  Throw in the two European waiters that sound exactly like an Andy Kaufman routine, the floozy party girl who bats at her own image in the mirror like a cat, and the drunken hotel detective, and you’ve got the makings of a great comedic ensemble.  The opening New York montage even feels like a much broader vaudeville-like series of sketches as we see construction workers and businessmen caught up in the Big Apple’s zany rat race.

Is Big City Blues also a graphically shocking tragedy where a horrific murder happens out of the nowhere and throws the rest of the movie into a depressing tailspin?  Uh . . . yep.  For about twenty minutes towards the end it is, and that’s where I found the biggest problem with the film.

The murder that occurs is so dreadful and out of sync with the rest of the movie that when Buddy valiantly predicts a return to New York in the end, it seems a little calloused and borderline sociopathic.  Really?  The murder of an innocent woman and Buddy’s near execution for someone else’s crime didn’t permanently scare him away?  He was able to shrug it off that quickly?

Okey-dokey . . .

Oh!  And I almost forgot to mention that the day is triumphantly saved when a man gruesomely takes his own life in a closet!  That’s how the case is finally closed so that Buddy and his friends can go free.  Thank goodness for suicide, right?  (And no, don’t stop to question the lackadaisical detective work done with the murder evidence!  No finger prints needed!  If the broken bottle fits, you must acquit!)

The Bogart Factor

Playing Shep Adkins, one of the party goers involved in the murder, Bogart gets a role that falls somewhere between cameo and bit part.  With perhaps ten lines of dialogue in the whole picture, he doesn’t get much time to shine.

That being said, what few lines he has are pretty good:

Bogart:  (READING THE PAPER) Nope, the old town ain’t what it used to be.  Look’it here now – cops grab a fella for a stick up.  He’s got two guns and a butcher knife in one pocket, and a powder puff and a lipstick in the other! 

And then when the party’s about to move to a nightclub, one of the women jokes that she should call home for permission:

Party Girl:  I should call my mother!

Bogart:  Quit your braggin’!  We all got mothers! 

At thirty-three years old, and at the very beginning of a long and storied career, Bogart looks young, vibrant, and ready to take on the world.  Just don’t go to the bathroom or you might miss his smiling face in this film!

The Cast

Eric Linden as Buddy Reeves is about as stereotyped a character as you can get for a small-town-boy-heads-to-the-big-city story.  That being said, he’s very likable, and most of the character’s flaws can be chalked up to weak writing.  The Aw, gee shucks routine does start to get a little old . . .

Walter Catlett is amazing as Cousin Gibby.  He’s so good at being a conniving sleaze that you just want reach through the screen and slap him.  Try not to smile the second time he says, “Just an old fashioned hitch!” 

Joan Blondell plays Vida, the showgirl that Cousin Gibby uses to con a little more money out of Buddy.  I know that we’re supposed to believe that she actually falls for Buddy a little bit, but I don’t know if I ever truly bought it.  It’s not Blondell’s fault, though.  She just doesn’t have much of a character in the script to work with.

Guy Kibbee portrays the drunken Hotel Detective and he plays the line between competent and bumbling just well enough to serve his purpose.

Classic Bogie Moment

Again, there wasn’t a lot to work with here, but there was one great moment towards the end where we get a little bit of classic Bogart when Shep Adkins refuses to give the proper gravity to a dire situation. The whole party crew has been rounded up at the police station to be grilled and possibly tried for murder.  While everyone mills around fretting, Bogart’s Shep leans over to Buddy and cracks, “Meant to ask you, Mr. Reeves.  Now how do you like New York?”  Pretty calm for a guy who could easily have been convicted as an accomplice for murder!

The Bottom Line

Not a must see unless you’re a completist, or perhaps a huge Joan Blondell fan.  A few good laughs, but largely forgettable.

Bullets or Ballots – 1936

bullets

My Review

—Good Gangster Fun— 

Your Bogie Fix:

2.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  William Keighley

The Lowdown

A cop (Edward G. Robinson) goes undercover to bust up the organization of a big time racketeer (Barton MacClane).

What I Thought

After the Legion of Decency and the Production Code Administration started to give movie studios a hard time for glorifying gangsters, Warner Brothers tried to earn a little absolution by letting some of their most famous bad guys flips sides.  Cagney was an FBI agent in G-Men, and Robinson is a cop here.

Considering that this film was made more as a response to outside pressure than it was about making an artistic statement, it’s actually a very entertaining piece of work.  I have to hand it to Warner Brothers, though.  They found a sneaky workaround for Edward G. Robinson to still be a gangster even though he was a cop – let him go undercover!  We still get the punches, kicks, and sneering insults that we’ve grown to love from Robinson’s mobster characters, but now he’s just pretending to be bad, right?

The plot is nothing extraordinary, as it’s a simple story of an honest cop willing to risk it all to stop the crooks.  The real heart of this film comes from Edward G. Robinson’s ex-cop, Johnny Blake, and the loyalties he tries to live by as he works for, and against, old friends.

Racketeer Al Kruger (Barton MacClane) is an old friend of Blake’s, and at one time, he’d even offered Blake a job in his organization.  Even though Blake turned him down, they were still able to remain cordial, despite the fact that they chose to live on opposite sides of the law.  When Blake’s fired from his police job for inefficiency, Kruger is on him in no time, ready to give him another shot within his gang:

Kruger:  Why, I’ve heard guys that you’ve sent to prison say that if you ever made a deal, you’d see yourself dead before you’d go back on it.

It turns out to be true.  Despite Kruger’s crimes, Blake later laments to his police captain (Joe King) that he has never given Kruger a fair shake to straighten out and fly right.  Blake is a man caught between his allegiances to friends, and his job to uphold the law.

Fortunately for all of us, Blake doesn’t have to make a choice on how to handle Kruger, as Kruger’s number two in command, “Bugs” Fenner (Humphrey Bogart), is a loose cannon with an itchy trigger finger.  Fenner doesn’t like Blake.  Fenner doesn’t like how much Kruger likes Blake.  And Fenner certainly doesn’t like the thought that Blake might be his replacement within the organization.

The best bad guys are the ones that are able to make even the other bad guys nervous, and that’s certainly what Bogart does in this picture.  He’s a coiled snake, waiting to bite anyone who looks at him the wrong way.  It sets up a wonderful tension that builds to a climactic breaking point where Robinson and Bogart battle it out with pistols on a staircase at the end of the film.

The Bogart Factor

You have to give “Bugs” Fenner credit in this movie.  Out of a couple dozen gangsters in a room, he was the only one that really seemed to know that Blake was still working for the cops.  I found myself wanting to yell at his fellow heavies multiple times to just shut up and listen to him for a minute.

Bogart is able to take a pretty clichéd gangster role and elevate it here.  His portrayal of Fenner is intimidating, ruthless, and downright chilling.  Even though I was pretty sure that Robinson was going to come out on top (doesn’t he always when Bogie’s the bad guy?), I was surprised by how much tension was built between the two men as Fenner relentlessly chased down Blake in an attempt to exact revenge.

It’s roles like this that make me understand why the studio thought they should keep Bogart typecast as the bad guy.  The parts may not have utilized his full potential as an actor, but he was dang good in them.

The Cast

Robinson is very good as the undercover cop who’s trying hard to keep his cool in the middle of a dangerous job.  This is one of the more physical roles that I’ve seen him in, as he had multiple fistfights, and even kicked out a gangster’s knee before knocking him across the jaw and then throwing him through a window.  For an actor who supposedly abhorred violence, he looked like a real action star.

I thought it was a treat to see Barton MacClane as the thinking man’s gangster.  I’m used to seeing him as the grumpy and grizzled sourpuss so often, that I was very impressed to see him playing such a likable bad guy here.  Definitely one of his best roles that I’ve seen so far.

Have I mentioned that Joan Blondell was in this movie yet?  No?  Well, there’s good reason for that.  She doesn’t have much to work with, as her role is small and insignificant, barely tying into the overall plot.  Even when she finds out that her good friend Blake has muscled in on her numbers racket, she seems to take it in stride, and waits to talk it out with him.  She doesn’t even get to play the love interest, as her only kiss comes with Bogart, and she slaps him silly for it.

Character actor Frank McHugh, who’s appeared multiple times on this blog so far, shows up as Blondell’s lackey.  He doesn’t have a big role here, but every time he’s onscreen, he steals the focus like no other.  He’s very gifted comic actor.

Classic Bogie Moment

Bogart was famous for paring down his lines to trim away the chaff and only say what needed to be said.  With one or two word sentences, he could communicate everything else with the subtext he would create with his tone and expressions.  One of the best examples of his ability comes in this film when Barton MacClane warns him to stay away from a crusading reporter named Bryant that’s trying to shut them down:

MacClane:  Go get yourself a drink and cool off.

Bogart: Okay.

MacClane:  And forget Bryant.

Bogart:  Sure.

The way he draws out both words – ooooh-kay and suuuuure – leaves us with no doubt that he’s nowhere near ready to “cool off” anytime soon.  Bryant’s days are most certainly numbered.

The Bottom Line

If you like gangster films, Edward G. Robinson films, or Bogart films, you’ll enjoy this one.  It’s good work by both men in a genre that they helped define.

Three on a Match – 1932

3onamatch

My Review

—VERY GOOD—

Your Bogie Fix:

1.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  – Mervyn LeRoy

The Lowdown 

The film follows three grade school classmates, Mary (Joan Blondell), Vivian (Ann Dvorak), and Ruth (Bette Davis), as they grow up, go their separate ways, and then reconnect at a beauty parlor.  When Vivian turns her life upside down after deciding that she’s unhappy with her marriage, Mary and Ruth stand by helplessly and watch their old acquaintance throw her life away with a long series of poor choices and a severe struggle with substance abuse.  Although Vivian’s life careens out of control, her misfortune ends up leading Mary and Ruth to a better life as they assume the roles of wife and mother that Vivian leaves behind.

What I Thought

Well, this was my first step into the Pre-Code era of Hollywood, and boy was it a doozy.  I admit, I have a number of large gaps in my cinema knowledge, and this period between the late 1920’s and early 1930’s is one of them.  I just didn’t have a lot of exposure to the films of this time until now.

That being said. . .

Within the first ten minutes of the movie, you’ll see kids showing off their “bloomers,” smoking, and dancing suggestively.  By the end of the movie, you’ll have seen adults drinking, high on drugs, wearing see-through nightgowns, and falling from several stories onto a busy street in a very realistic suicide scene.  It’s provocative filmmaking to say the least, and let me tell you, it’s captivating.

From beginning to end, this is a wild ride through the lives of three young women who start out on very different paths (bad girl, popular diva, straight ‘A’ student) and end up places that they never thought they’d be – some good, some disappointing, and some outright horrible.  It’s exciting, dramatic, occasionally funny, often stimulating, and eventually very painful to watch.

I really enjoyed this movie, but after Black Legion, Two Against the World, and now Three on a Match, let’s just say that I’m ready for more of a pick-me-up Bogart movie.

The Bogart Factor

The movie is barely over an hour and Bogart doesn’t appear until about forty-seven minutes into the film, so there’s not a lot of time spent with his character.  When he does show up however, his role largely dominates the storyline until the end of the film.

Playing Harve, the number one thug to a mobster named Ace (Edward Arnold), Bogart shows up with a gang of toughs to shake down Vivian and her new boyfriend after they kidnap Vivian’s young son Junior in an attempt to extort her wealthy ex-husband.

It’s a scene-stealing role for Bogart, as his cool and detached onscreen persona overpowers every other actor in the frame.

While not a large role for Bogie, it’s definitely worth seeking out.

The Cast 

Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak, and Bette Davis are all superb and perfectly cast.

Blondell is so good, I can’t wait to catch up with her in other roles.  Fortunately, I won’t have to wait long as she’s apparently in a few other Bogart movies on my list.

Dvorak is able to play both high class and depravity with equal strength, and it’s a role that makes me want to explore the rest of her filmography.

Then there’s Bette Davis, who supposedly spent her time on the film at odds with Director LeRoy who didn’t appreciate her acting, which probably explains why her character is the least developed of the three.  I don’t know what Leroy was seeing, as Davis is just as gorgeous and fun as ever.  (Yes, I’m well aware that this blog is turning into a Bette Davis fanblog . . . I don’t know what to say.  She’s becoming more and more an obsession with me all the time.)

Warren William, as Vivian’s ex-husband Robert Kirkwood, is very good, and another actor with a filmography I need to explore.

Lyle Talbot plays Michael Loftus, Vivian’s shifty, flop-sweating, junkie of a boyfriend who gets into debt with Bogart’s boss.  He’s just good looking enough to con you, and just oily enough to hate.  He’s does well in the role.

Child actor Dickie Moore plays Dvorak and William’s son, Junior, and does a good job of being cute and heartbreaking at every possible moment.  (For a good piece on Moore, check out @HollywoodComet’s review of Dickie Moore’s book about being a child actor here, as she is currently in the midst of a child actor blogathon.)

Classic Bogie Moment

There aren’t a lot of scenes to pick from, but towards the end of the film, when Harve and his thugs are hold up in Vivian’s apartment, Bogart, dressed in a charcoal suit and black fedora, sits hunched in a chair, commanding the room on sheer charisma as he tells his crew about the cops canvassing the streets.

Perhaps Bogie’s best line, and maybe the most chilling line of the film, comes after Bogart strong-arms Dvorak into a room and slams the door.  Dickie Moore approaches and whimpers:

Moore:  You musn’t hurt my mama.

Bogart: (SNEERING) Okay, I’ll bear that in mind.

The Bottom Line

Although short, this is a classic gangster role for Bogart.  Even though he’s not in it for long, it’s a great film, an easy watch, and a fun early Bogart role.  If you’re really jonesing for a Bogart gangster film though, you might want to pair it up with something like High Sierra just to get a good fix.