The Attorneys

Marked Woman

*Character Reference is an ongoing segment of The Bogie Film Blog where we dissect the different recurring genres and characters from Bogart’s filmography. You can find the rest of the entries here.*

The Lowdown

Bogart played every angle on both sides of the law during his career. Petty criminal. Gang Boss. Convict. Corrections officer. Private Eye.

And yes, even a lawyer a few times.

An actor who could play good or evil with equal ease, the role of an attorney fits Bogart just like any other. The suits are a little less flashy, the dames don’t fall for him as hard, and nobody gets plugged, but doggone it, Bogart knew how to play a crusader who fought for justice at any cost.

While none of Bogart’s attorney films probably rank in your “Top 10 Bogie Movies of All Time,” they are all three worth a watch. I would even consider one of them a rarely talked about gem.

The Attorneys

Marked Woman – 1937

marked

Bogart plays Assistant District Attorney David Graham, the man trying to capture and convict a powerful mob boss who’s running a ring of high-priced “hostesses” at nightclubs, among other nefarious illegalities. Bette Davis is one of the “hostesses” in question, trying to stay out of trouble from both Bogart and the mobster as she makes her way through life.

Bogart is still pretty young, even letting his previously over-used gangster accent slip out a bit when he tells his nemesis, “I’m going to indict you for moider!” Overall though, he gives a strong performance as the lawyer who’s pulled himself up by his bootstraps from his own dark past to make sure that justice is served.

Bogart might get second billing on the poster, but in reality, he’s fourth or fifth down the line when it comes to screen time. While it’s fun to note that the roles of criminal and do-gooder have now switched between Bogart and Davis since Petrified Forest, I didn’t feel that the same tension and chemistry between the actors was there.

There’s a great moment when Davis enters Bogart’s office in a desperate moment of need that rings with a bit of Maltese Falcon-ness with Bogart coolly sitting behind his desk as the lady pleads for help.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Knock on Any Door – 1949

Knock On Any Door Poster

Bogart’s wonderful here as Defense Attorney Andrew Morton, the man set to defend a young hoodlum (John Derek) that’s accused of killing a cop.

He has some great scenes as he attempts to mentor his young client, and it’s a lot of fun to see him battling it out in the courtroom with the District Attorney (George Macready) in a battle of wits as they attempt to sway the jury over the young defendant’s life. Bogart’s personality and presence are so strong, he could probably convince a jury that the sun only rises at night if he worked hard enough.

Quiet, reflective, occasionally torn and brooding, Bogart plays this one close to the chest and it works. I loved the fact that he didn’t initially want to take the case, but was sort of guilted into it by his girlfriend (Candy Toxton). This worked in the film’s favor as at several points, Bogart’s reluctance is conveyed through the doubt he carries about his client.

This one’s definitely worth a look. You can read my original post on the film here.

The Enforcer – 1951

Enforcer

My personal favorite attorney role from his filmography, Bogart is Assistant District Attorney Martin Ferguson. Ferguson is a man in desperate need of sleep when the movie opens, and even more desperate need when it wraps up. The key witness in the biggest trial of his life just died and he has to spend all night going over the evidence to find a new lead on a gangster (Everett Sloane) that’s about to walk free.

Ferguson and his right hand man, Captain Frank Nelson (Roy Roberts), reopen the case from the beginning, and we the viewers get to flashback to the first moments that the gangster’s men slip up, and the crime syndicate flashes onto ADA Ferguson’s radar.

Imagine an extra-long episode of Law and Order, except the cast is made up of classic Hollywood actors. It’s a murder mystery who-done-it in which we get to watch Bogart track down one lead after another, only to find out that every new witness he needs has just turned up dead.

There’s also a nifty twist at the end, that I’ll admit, I should have seen coming. But twist endings weren’t as common in classic Hollywood, so I wasn’t expecting it! It’s not my fault, see! The clues were there but I wasn’t paying close enough attention! I’ll wager that even if you do see it coming, it’ll still be pretty satisfying – I’ll say no more just in case you haven’t seen it yet!

This one’s a must see, and an underrated gem in my opinion. You can read my original post on the film here.

*Character Reference is an ongoing segment of The Bogie Film Blog where we dissect the different recurring genres and characters from Bogart’s filmography. You can find the rest of the entries here.*

Nicholas Ray

020-nicholas-ray-theredlist

Birth Name: Raymond Nicholas Kienzle

Date of Birth: August 7, 1911

Date of Death: June 16, 1979

Number of Films that Nicholas Ray Made with Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Lowdown

According to the Sperber/Lax Bogart bio, Director Nicholas Ray “had an affinity for pictures about the disaffected…” Collaborating with Bogart on the back end of the icon’s career, and also during what some may argue as the most disaffected portion of the actor’s artistic and political life, Ray was there to capture Bogart on screen in a way that was more deeply personal than any other director in his filmography.

The more I read on Ray, the more I’m in awe. The man lived a Forrest Gump-like life in the best possible ways, collaborating over his career with such varied talents as Frank Lloyd Wright (they parted over politics), Elia Kazan, Alan Lomax (a personal hero as I listen to his work daily), Woody Guthrie, and even the great James Dean among many others. Perhaps best known for his work with Dean on Rebel Without a Cause, what a tragedy it is to hear that they’d planned to collaborate on more films together before Dean’s untimely death.

While Ray and Bogart worked together twice, the bigger story might be all the times they almost worked together but fate intervened. Bogart wanted to do a version of The Old Man and the Sea with Ray directing. (Bogart best friend Spencer Tracy would go on to film it a year after Bogie’s death.) Ray was also in the mix to direct Beat the Devil at one point. (How DIFFERENT would that film be with the emotionally charged director in the power chair?) And Bogart also talked with Ray on another project, The Ferry Boat Story, that never came to fruition because Bogart decided to make The Caine Mutiny.

Regardless, we do have two wonderful films in which they worked together. I’m more than elated to place Director Nicholas Ray into The Usual Suspects today!

The Filmography

Knock on Any Door – 1949

Knock On Any Door Poster

Knock on Any Door was the first movie produced by Bogart’s film production company, Santana, and I would have to say that it was a great film for Bogart’s crew to start with – despite the fact that neither Director Ray nor Bogart were satisfied with the final results.

Based on the bestselling book by Willard Motley, Bogart handpicked Ray after being impressed by his directorial debut in They Live by Night. There have been reviews written that accuse this film of doing some over-the-top grandstanding, preaching on the dangers of social injustice. I couldn’t disagree more. How our country treats the lower class is most definitely not a black and white issue, and I think Director Ray makes sure to leave us on an authentic moment of uncertainty at the end of the film. People that we might consider “bad guys” aren’t always bad guys. Heroes we look up to sometimes make life and death mistakes. Knock on Any Door is less a movie about our country’s war on poverty, and more a film about our societal struggle with the flawed criminal justice system.

Bogart’s wonderful here as attorney Andrew Morton. I’ve read more than a few blogs and reviews that compare his final courtroom scene here to his ending moments as Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny. I would agree with that on a lot of levels, but the role of Andrew Morton is much more restrained as it builds towards the big speech at the end. And while both men are essentially breaking down emotionally, Morton’s scene is more of an emotional breakthrough – something that Director Ray was so incredibly deft at handling.

You can read my original post on the film here.

In a Lonely Place – 1950

lonely place

An emotional punch in the gut, Director Nicholas Ray reportedly wrote many of the relationship scenes between Bogart and costar Gloria Grahame based on his own failing marriage. As you can guess, this film is good with tension.

What is so interesting to me about this film is that it raises questions about the responsibility that society bears on handling the behavior of unstable people. Bogart’s Dixon Steele has proven to be a valuable member of society with a lot to contribute to the arts. He could have continued to thrive during his personal struggles with the proper support from their peers. Ray though, crafts a story in which we get to watch Steele systematically tumble one step after another into a deep state of rage and distrust for those around him, finally sabotaging his personal relationships and career.

Good, good, good, good film. 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.*

 

Dooley Wilson

Dooley Wilson Casablanca 2

Birth Name: Arthur “Dooley” Wilson

Date of Birth: April 3, 1886

Date of Death: May 30, 1953

Number of Films Dooley Wilson Made With Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Lowdown:

Perhaps the most exciting thing that’s happened to me while working on the blog occurred one night while I was reading tidbits and trivia about Bogart films online and discovered that Dooley Wilson had cameoed in another Bogart film, Knock on Any Door, as a piano player. Could it be true? I owned the film, as it came with my Bogart-Columbia Pictures box set, and I had seen the film several times. How could I have missed it? Was this just another cameo myth like Bogart’s supposed appearance in In This Our Life or Ann Sheridan’s in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre?

Lo and behold, I pop in the film, fast forward to the nightclub scene, and there he is, sitting up behind the bar, playing piano and accepting a beer from the bartender. When you consider how the shot is framed, it becomes obvious that Director Nicholas Ray wanted our eyes to find Wilson. It’s as if Director Ray has built a tunnel of people that leads right to Wilson (check out the pic below). But the shot is fleeting, Bogart is commanding the moment with his performance, and I had missed it.

Born in Texas, performing in minstrel shows by twelve, and eventually touring Europe as a singer/drummer for his band “The Red Devils,” Dooley earned his famous nickname in his early twenties when he would perform the Irish song Mr. Dooley in whiteface. Wilson would eventually make his way to Broadway and then on to Hollywood where he would finally cement his legacy with what many deem to be the most famous musical moment in cinema history as he plays the theme song As Time Goes By for Rick and Ilsa in Casablanca.

It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I learned Wilson couldn’t even play piano. His voice is so smooth and his face is so animated that I’d just never bothered looking down at his hands. Now though, it’s pretty clear that he’s just gently bobbing them up and down on the keys. Apparently, another piano player, Elliot Carpenter, was brought onto the set and placed just off-camera so that Wilson could imitate his moves while he sang.

Is it a bit of a stretch to put Wilson into ‘The Usual Suspects’ considering that his second Bogart collaboration is an uncredited cameo with no lines? Who cares? It’s Dooley Wilson! Hollywood’s greatest wingman!

The Filmography

Casablanca – 1942

Dooley Wilson Casablanca

Wilson plays Sam, Bogart’s best friend and confidant who works as the piano player/singer at Rick’s Café Américain. A huge key to the film’s overall quality and success, Wilson’s musical numbers are incredibly well done and entertaining. Even more fun than As Time Goes By is his rendition of Knock on Wood with the whole nightclub crowd helping to back him. When Rick Blaine’s ex comes looking for him, Sam’s quick to say, “I ain’t seen him all night!” despite the fact that he just saw him. Sam knows that she’s going to be trouble, and without missing a beat, he does what any best friend would – he plays interference. Then, when Blaine’s drowning his sorrows at the bottom of a bottle, Sam suggests hitting the road and going fishing. (That could have been an entertaining film in itself!) Yes, they part ways at the finish of the film when Blaine releases Sam to a rival nightclub run by Sydney Greenstreet so he can go risk his life and lose his love, but they have one of those bromance relationships where they could be apart for years and pick right up where they left off when they meet again. Oh, how I hope they met again… You can read my original write-up on the film here.

Knock on Any Door – 1949

Dooley Wilson Knock on Any Door

With no lines and just a few seconds of screen time, this is nothing more than a cameo – although, what a glorious cameo it is! Bogart plays an attorney trying to track down the facts on a murder. While sitting in a nightclub during his investigation, we get a glimpse of Hollywood’s most famous piano player behind him, tickling the ivories and getting a beer. Knock on Any Door is a good enough film that you should see it on its own merits, but its brief re-teaming of these two legends makes it extra sweet! You can read my original write-up on the film here.

*’The Usual Suspects’ is an ongoing feature at The Bogie Film Blog where we highlight the actors and directors who share more than one film with Bogart . . . even if it’s just for a few seconds. Good grief, this guy is cool. You can read the rest of the entries here.*

Knock on Any Door – 1949

Knock On Any Door Poster

My Review

—Definitely Deserves a Watch—

Bogie Film Fix:

4 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: Nicholas Ray

The Lowdown

An attorney (Humphrey Bogart) who escaped a history of crime and poverty must defend a young hoodlum (John Derek) accused of murdering a policeman.

What I Thought

First of all, before you watch this film, don’t read any of the reviews or synopses on the web. A few of them actually give away the ending in the first paragraph, and it always bugs me a little bit that people think they can get away with that because it’s a “classic” movie.

Knock on Any Door was the first movie produced by Bogart’s film production company, Santana, and I would have to say that it was a great film for Bogart’s crew to start with. Based on the bestselling book by Willard Motley, Bogart handpicked Director Nicholas Ray after being impressed by his directorial debut in They Live by Night. It’s a partnership that would go on to produce one of my favorite Bogart films, In a Lonely Place, and Ray would later helm one of cinema’s most loved classics, Rebel Without a Cause.

There have been reviews written that accuse this film of doing some over-the-top grandstanding, preaching on the dangers of social injustice. I couldn’t disagree more. How our country treats the lower class is most definitely not a black and white issue, and I think Director Ray makes sure to leave us on an authentic moment of uncertainty at the end of the film. People that we might consider “bad guys” aren’t always bad guys. Heroes we look up to sometimes make life and death mistakes. Knock on Any Door is less a movie about our country’s war on poverty, and more a film about our societal struggle with the flawed criminal justice system.

Although I’m not giving it a perfect score on the “Bogie Film Fix,” as much of film centers around John Derek (and rightly so), I would say this that one’s a must see for anyone hankering for some classic older Bogart.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart’s wonderful here as attorney Andrew Morton. I’ve read more than a few blogs and reviews that compare his final courtroom scene here to his ending moments as Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny. I would agree with that on a lot of levels, but the role of Andrew Morton is much more restrained as it builds towards the big speech at the end. And while both men are essentially breaking down emotionally, Morton’s scene is more of an emotional breakthrough than a breakdown. Morton’s scene is one of stark realization about the hopelessness sometimes created by the judicial process. Queeg’s madness is more personal, and any realizations of it are much more self-reflective.

Bogart has some great scenes as he attempts to mentor his young client, and it’s a lot of fun to see him battling it out in the courtroom with the District Attorney (George Macready) in a battle of wits as they attempt to sway the jury over the young defendant’s life.

Quiet, reflective, occasionally torn and brooding, Bogart plays this one close to the chest and it works. I loved the fact that he didn’t initially want to take the case, but was sort of guilted into it by his girlfriend (Candy Toxton). This worked in the film’s favor as at several points, Bogart’s reluctance is conveyed through the doubt he carries about his client.

Both Bogart and John Derek are strong in this film, and it’s well worth your time to check it out based on their performances alone.

The Cast

John Derek plays Nick Romano, the young man from the wrong side of the tracks who is accused of murder. This is Derek’s film, as he’s front and center for most of the scenes, and he handles it well. Derek’s able to give us the emotional rollercoaster of someone who’s got the potential to accomplish anything, yet because of bad luck and poor decisions, he can’t seem to keep his life on the straight and narrow. I’m not all that familiar with Derek, but I’d love to see if he has another role as powerful as this one.

Allene Roberts plays Derek’s love interest, Emma. It’s not a huge role, but she does a great job with it, and her side story with Derek is one of the more haunting parts of the film. Director Ray does a good job of showing us the tragedy of a young couple’s relationship going sour after so much initial promise.

George Macready is PERFECTLY cast as Assistant District Attorney Kerman. From the scar on his cheek to his ruthless badgering of witnesses, Macready is the standout scene stealer in this film and I’m anxious to check out his other work. Anyone who can get me to hate them for an hour and a half before finally garnering my sympathy is a solid actor in my book.

Candy Toxton (as Susan Perry) plays Bogart’s love interest, social worker Adele Morton. It’s a small role, but she makes the most of her scenes. I bought the fact that Toxton was able to convince Bogart to take the case based on his own past indiscretions. While I wish that she’d had a little more meat in the script, I can’t complain as she does her supporting job well.

Classic Bogie Moment

Bogart was great at emotional breakdowns onscreen. While his last courtroom scene here has a more sympathetic spin on it than his final explosions in The Caine Mutiny and In a Lonely Place, it’s a real testament to Bogart’s skill that he could so convincingly show such a powerful emotional investment in his roles. Bogart was superb at playing characters that were forced, often against their will, to live in the “gray areas” of life.

The Bottom Line

Not a perfect film, but a wonderful showcase for Bogart and Derek with lots of great tension.