Women of All Nations – 1931

Women of All Nations Poster

My Review

—No Bogie, but Some Fun to be Had—

Bogie Film Fix:

NO BOGIE out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Raoul Walsh

The Lowdown

Two marines (Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe) travel the world and fall in love with the same woman (Greta Nissen) while an impish lackey (El Brendel) follows in tow.

What I Thought

I really debated about whether or not I should include this one on the blog, as Bogart’s scenes were cut from the film and his only presence is in the credits.  But I thought it was important to include it for three reasons:

  1. I posted on the film In This Our Life even though Bogart’s appearance never really happens.
  2. Director Raoul Walsh would go on to work with Bogart on five more films.
  3. It’s on Bogart’s IMDB list, and as with In This Our Life, I feel compelled to post on all the films credited to Bogart’s filmography.

So here we go!

Women of All Nations centers around two marines, Captain Jim Flagg (McLaglen) and Sergeant Harry Quirt (Lowe), who apparently had a whole string of comedy films that I’d never seen or heard of until I found this one.

Is it great?  No.  Is it good?  I think it’s good enough.  It’s really a series of short vignettes following both men as they’re stationed around the world.  I thought the film was watchable and even had some laugh-out-loud moments despite the fact that a lot of the online reviews that I’ve seen are pretty disparaging.

The entire cast is good, and while the script is lacking and the plot follows the marines to one location too many, it’s hard to argue that the movie is too long with only a 72 minute run time.

I can’t say that this one’s a must see for anyone, but if you’re one of those people who loves Laurel and Hardy films, you’ll probably get a kick out of this one.  Plus you get to see Bela Lugosi!  That alone was enough to make it worth it for me!

The Bogart Factor

There wasn’t any Bogart to be had!  IMDB says that Bogart “does not appear in all prints.”  Does that mean he did make it into some?   Are there prints out there with Bogie in them?  I’d love to find out.

The Cast

Victor McLaglen plays the uptight, by-the-book, military man, Capt. Jim Flagg.   I have absolutely no complaints with McLaglen as he knows when to reign in the “tough guy” act just enough as to not let it get old.  McLaglen and Lowe work well together, and seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves through all the repartee.

Edmond Lowe plays the charming skirt-chaser, Sergeant Harry Quirt.  Again, I have no complaints here as Lowe is the perfect counter balance to McLaglen’s grouchy Captain, and both men are obviously having a good time.  Lowe plays, what you might consider, an early version of Hawkeye Pierce as he uses the military to keep himself in fresh supply of liquor and women.

El Brendel plays McLaglen’s (Swedish?) lackey, Olsen, and it’s his film to steal.  From behind-the-back raspberries to losing a cigar smoking monkey in his pants, Brendel is a lot of fun in this film and has amazing comedic timing and great physicality.  I really want to see if he has any other fun films to check out.

Greta Nissen plays the Swedish dancehall girl, Elsa, who both men fall in love with.  Her scenes in the Swedish bar are probably the best in the film, and she’s got a real girl-next-door look to her that will remind you a bit of Bette Davis.  How exactly did she end up in the Egyptian harem again after singing in a Swedish bar???  I don’t remember, and it really doesn’t matter.

Bela Lugosi plays the Egyptian Prince Hassan who somehow obtains Elsa from the Swedish bar and into his harem.  It doesn’t matter how exactly, but it does lead to a running joke wherein the punishment for sleeping with his wife is so terrible that it must be whispered into everyone’s ear rather than said out loud.  Lugosi is big, two-dimensional, and hammy – exactly what you’ve already probably grown to love about the man!

Classic Bogie Moment

No Bogie this time out.  Sorry folks.  But check out that poster again!  That thing is gorgeous, and I’d love to get one for the wall someday.

The Bottom Line

I thought the film was worth a watch, but I wouldn’t argue too hard with anyone that doesn’t like it.

They Drive By Night – 1940

They Drive By Night Poster

My Review

—Some Decent Melodrama— 

Bogie Film Fix:

3 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Raoul Walsh

The Lowdown

The Fabrini brothers (George Raft and Humphrey Bogart) do their best to maintain a living as long distance truckers despite the constant threats of dangerous roads, sleep deprivation, and bosses who try to swindle them at every turn.

What I Thought

Okay.  I’m on board with George Raft.  He reminds me a lot of a more subdued version of James Cagney.  Both guys are small in stature, good looking, and great actors.  Don’t get me wrong, Raft isn’t nearly as charming and charismatic as Cagney, but he does a great job of playing men who are wound tight and ready to explode.

The chemistry here within the entire cast is superb.  Raft and Bogart work well together playing brothers with a very believable sibling dynamic.  Raft and Alan Hale have a lot of fun moments as they fall into business with one another.  Raft and Ann Sheridan make a great couple.  (Full disclosure – I’d pay to see Ann Sheridan watching paint dry, so I’m a little biased.)  And Raft gets to squirm alongside of Ida Lupino in some of the film’s best moments of dramatic tension.

My only real hang-up with the film comes with the ending when it devolves into a “he said/she said” courtroom drama.  The melodrama dial is already set at a “9” here, so I shouldn’t be surprised that they went with the old “murder trial” convention to decide the fates of all involved, but I do feel like it was a bit of an unrealistic cop out for the film to end that way.  I think it might have been more in line with the characters and the story to have Lupino and Raft’s final confrontation be a more privately painful moment.

But there’s so much right with Raoul Walsh’s direction here that I can’t fault the film for too much.  Walsh is one of my absolute favorite Bogart directors having worked on Women of All Nations, The Roaring Twenties, They Drive By Night, High Sierra, Action in the North Atlantic (uncredited), and The Enforcer (uncredited).  He knows how to build a story, get the most out of his actors, and frame each shot like it could be a movie still worth hanging on your wall.  I’m excited to add him to The Usual Suspects soon.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart plays a regular joe with his portrayal of Frank Fabrini.  It’s essentially a “good guy” version of the blue collar role that he played in Black Legion, and Director Walsh makes sure that he has plenty of time to flesh out his character despite the fact that he’s only the fourth billed actor in the film.

Raft and Bogart get the opportunity to build a good natured brotherly relationship before the plot gets dark, and we’re given ample time with Bogart’s Frank and his wife Pearl (Gale Page) as we see him torn between providing for his wife and fulfilling her dreams of a having a baby.  When the Fabrini’s truck is finally wrecked and Frank loses his arm, Bogart has created a deep enough character that it’s a gut wrenching moment to watch him tell his brother that he should have been left behind in the burning vehicle.

It’s not Bogart’s show to steal here, but he does a great job with a large supporting role.

The Cast

George Raft plays Bogart’s brother and trucking partner, Joe Fabrini.  Raft is authentic and relatable as the industrious trucker who’s willing to work hard in order to get ahead.  Besides this film, Invisible Stripes, and Some Like it Hot, I’m not familiar with Raft’s work, and I feel the urge to start exploring the rest of his filmography.  Raft’s biggest talent as an actor is the ability to play his emotions close to his chest until it’s time for the drama to really kick in.  I think I’m a big enough man to finally let his off screen tension with Bogart go . . .

Ann Sheridan plays truck stop waitress Cassie Hartley who falls for Raft after he’s more than a little persistent.  Sheridan does a good job of giving us the impression that she’s a good girl who’s perhaps done some dark things in her past, and she has some really nice scenes with Raft as they share a hotel room for a night before eventually falling in love and making a life together.  I can’t get enough of Sheridan, and this is one of her best Bogart film appearances.

Ida Lupino is Lana Carlsen, the femme fatale that bumps off her husband so that she can go after Raft.  Lupino is lots of fun here as she smolders away, doing whatever it takes to keep the money she married into while making advances on a man who wants nothing to do with her.  The moment where she makes the decision to leave her husband in the garage with the car running is done to perfection.  Just a moment of realization flashes across her eyes – then there’s a short pause before passing the garage door sensor – Director Walsh and Lupino put together a wonderful little murder scene.

Alan Hale plays Lupino’s gregarious husband, Ed Carlsen.  Ed’s the trucker who made good, finally opening his own company, and it’s a crime – A CRIME, I TELL YA! – when Lupino bumps him off.  What kind of sick mind thinks it would be a better world without Alan Hale?!?  It’s insanity in its purest form . . .

Roscoe Karns plays the good natured, pinball-addicted, milk truck driver for Ed Carlsen, Irish McGurn.  Karns is a scene stealer in the best possible way, and it’s a real treat to have him in the film.  The moments between Karns and Hale when they play drunk are laugh-out-loud good.

Classic Bogie Moment

In a rare turn, Bogart gets to play both goofy and dramatic here.  One of his very best mugging moments from any film comes when he’s trying to mime his excitement about a sale to George Raft behind the back of a prospective client (George Tobias) which gives us this great pic for your classic moment from the film:

They Drive By Night Bogart

The Bottom Line

I’d go ahead and make this one a must see.  It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it’s a great supporting role for Bogart where he gets to explore a lot of character depth and nuance.

High Sierra – 1941

High Sierra

My Review

–Great Film, Excellent Bogart—

Your Bogie Film Fix:

5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: Raoul Walsh

The Lowdown

Immediately after being released from prison, ex-con Roy Earle (Bogart) signs on for one more heist at a high class resort. As he and his partners prepare for the robbery, Earle is sidetracked by the thought of love with a displaced Midwestern girl (Joan Leslie) and her family who have just moved to California.

What I Thought

This film gets better for me every time that I see it. This was my third or fourth viewing, and I’m continually struck by how many new things pop out every time I watch. (Did you see how much jam Bogart puts on his breakfast toast? Good grief!)

By far his most nuanced gangster role, Bogart’s portrayal of ‘Mad Dog’ Roy Earle is that of a hardened and ruthless criminal who’s been tempered by time and experience. He’s finally reached that often clichéd moment in film where he’s ready for one more job before he settles down. But cliché is avoided here as the story wisely pairs Earle with partners who are considerably younger than him, and who more than likely reflect his own recklessly impetuous past.

Director Raoul Walsh spends a lot of time showing us Bogart quietly listening and reacting to a lot of chaos around him – each time carefully and calmly handling situations with an equal dose of wisdom and intimidation. Perhaps Bogart’s greatest character depth comes from the time Earle spends with ‘Pa’ played by Henry Travers. Where so many of Bogart’s previous gangster roles showed him reacting to frustration and disappointment with violence, High Sierra shows a man who often reacts with quiet resignation and acceptance to his station in life.

The cast is superb. The script by legendary actor, director, and writer John Huston is tight and powerful. Director Walsh gives us a lot of fantastic close ups and quiet moments to linger on. What more could you want from Classic Hollywood or a night with Humphrey Bogart?

As the story goes, when the part of Roy Earle was offered to George Raft, Raft was at the point in his career when he was ready to step away from gangster roles. Supposedly, Bogart needled him a bit about taking on yet another bad guy part, and Raft finally refused the script. Bogart then quickly swooped in and picked it up, knowing that it was a choice role, and a major step up from the previous two-dimensional hoods that he’d played before.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart layers the role of Roy Earle so deeply that you’re instantly sucked into not only empathizing with the character, but actually forgiving him when he commits his crime and is forced to shoot a security guard. I’m amazed and impressed with how much character development was given to Bogart’s role as he’s allowed to build deep and authentic relationships with Henry Travers’ Pa, Ida Lupino’s Marie, Joan Leslie’s Velma, and Donald McBride’s Big Mac. So often in crime films of this era, much more time is given over to the action and adventure, and little effort is spent on building a solid three-dimensional character. Director Walsh gives Bogart plenty of scenes to build a great foundation here though, and it makes for a riveting performance.

Bogart appears to be enjoying himself, and it’s a lot of fun to see him acting against his real life dog, Zero, in the film’s lighter moments. If you’re looking for a solid Bogart fix, this one’s a must see as it’s undoubtedly some of his best work. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of him.

High Sierra was the last film that Bogart made where he wasn’t given top billing, and it’s easy to see why this role made him an undeniably top-tiered star.

The Cast

Ida Lupino plays Marie, the bad girl who’s pining away for Bogart while Bogart pines away for Joan Leslie. Lupino does a great job of not overdoing the role, slowly making advances towards Bogart with patience and just the right amount of manipulation. They have good chemistry together, and I would have been happy if Bogart had ridden off into the sunset with her at the end.  You can read Lupino’s entry into ‘The Usual Suspects’ portion of the blog here.

Henry Travers plays Pa, a down-on-his-luck farmer who’s come to California with his wife and niece for a second chance. It’s not a groundbreakingly new role for Travers as he plays the saintly old grandfather type, but his scenes with Bogart are really, really good, and it’s nice to see him in a big role. You can read my write up on Travers in ‘The Usual Suspects’ portion of the blog here.

Joan Leslie plays Velma, the young disabled love interest to Bogart. Director Walsh uses her in small but powerful doses, and he doesn’t shy away from making sure we don’t see her as too innocently naïve in the end. Leslie does great in the role, and holds herself up against Bogart very well. It makes me excited to watch The Wagons Roll at Night again as I haven’t seen it in several years.

Arthur Kennedy and Alan Curtis play Bogart’s partners in crime, Red and Babe respectively. Again, Director Walsh spends just enough time to give us a good look at these younger versions of Earle without overdoing it. Kennedy is especially good here in an early role, and I need to check out some more of his filmography.

Donald MacBride plays Big Mac, the brains behind the heist, and he’s given a few good scenes with Bogart that show what Earle’s future might have in store if he doesn’t get out of the crime racket.

Willie Best plays Algernon, the simple cabin boy who pops up now and again to add a little levity and plot advancement to the film. I liked Best a lot here as he seems to have a real screen presence, and I’d like to explore his filmography further.

Cornel Wilde does well with a small part as Mendoza, the inside man at the resort who opens the safe for Bogart and his pals, and shares an amazing scene with Bogart which I get to later in the Classic Bogie moment . . .

Bogie Film Blog favorite Barton MacLane has a brief role as Jake, the man who . . . well . . . I’m not exactly sure what his job title was specifically, but he seemed to be Donald MacBride’s right hand man. It’s always fun to see MacLane show up in a film!

And then there’s Henry Hull as Doc Banton. I haven’t seen Hull since my early review of Midnight/Call it Murder, and here he plays an overly-aged private physician to criminals. Hull’s a good actor, so I’m not sure why Director Walsh felt the need to go a little over-the-top with Hull’s old man routine. It’s not too distracting, but it’s odd.

Classic Bogie Moment

Maybe my favorite Bogart scene from any film, Bogart sits down with his partners and explains to them with incredibly subtle intimidation why they need to keep quiet about their work.

Mendoza: Big Mac gave me the machine gun. You know how to work it? Red doesn’t, and neither does Babe.

Red: That’s a good one, that is.

Mendoza: What’s so funny?

Red: Does he know how to work it?

Roy Earle: (WITH INCREDIBLE CALMNESS) Yeah. Say, you know that gun reminds me of one time, nine or ten years ago. We was getting ready to do a job back in Iowa when one of the guys got the shakes. Pretty soon we found out that this guy with the shakes had talked too much, and a bunch of coppers were waiting for us at the bank. But we don’t say nothing. Lefty Jackson goes out and gets his gun. He comes back and sits down and holds it across his knee. The guy with shakes is sitting right across the room from him. Pretty soon Lefty just touched the trigger a little, and the gun went (BOGART TAPS THE TOP OF THE GUN CASE THREE TIMES WITH HIS INDEX FINGER) like that. The rat fell out of the chair dead and we drove off and left him there. Yeah, the gun went (BOGART TAPS THREE TIMES AGAIN).

Mendoza: (NERVOUSLY) Well, I better be getting back. I have to go on duty at 8:30.

Director Walsh could have gone over-the-top with this scene, making it a loud and threatening encounter, but he holds back, and it plays out powerfully.

The Bottom Line

If you’re a Bogie Film Blog reader, more than likely you’ve already seen this one. But if by some chance you haven’t, what are you waiting for?!? Go get it!

The Roaring Twenties – 1939

roaring twenties

My Review

—Great Film—

Your Bogie Fix:

3 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  Raoul Walsh

The Lowdown

Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney) returns from fighting in World War I and finds that the only way he can make a decent living is by selling homemade liquor.  Soon Bartlett is running a bootlegging operation, in love with a naïve young singer (Priscilla Lane), and teaming up with two old war buddies (Jeffry Lynn and Humphrey Bogart) to deliver cheap booze to as many speakeasies as he can muscle.  Before long though, Bartlett finds that his unrequited love and his jealous partner are more than he can handle while running a business.

What I Thought

This film is a whole lot of fun.  While it may not be Cagney or Bogart’s best gangster movie, it’s still fantastic and well worth the watch.

Cagney gets to run the gamut from celebrated soldier boy to big time gangster, and then all the way down to flat broke drunk.  I use the word charisma a lot on this blog when I talk about Bogart’s command of the big screen, but Cagney is another one of those actors that you just can’t take your eyes off of.  He looks great in a uniform, a tuxedo, and a bum’s clothes.  He can switch from coy and charming one minute, to fierce and ruthless the next, and it always plays believably.  Plus, he has a great sense of comedic timing and isn’t afraid to let his costars shine.  Good guy or evil, it’s hard not to root for him in any role.

While the story of bootlegging gangsters might not be new or groundbreaking, it is quite layered, weaving many different characters in and out of the life of Cagney’s returning war veteran, Bartlett.

Many gangster movies of the time were satisfied with introducing one female lead to hold the main hood’s coat and be a good little mobgirl stereotype – The Roaring Twenties gives us two, and neither one of them turns out to be the typical squeaky moll that we might expect.

The young singer that Bartlett adores won’t return his loving glance, let alone his proposal ring.  All the while, the older speakeasy madam is quietly pining away for him, but Bartlett can’t bring himself out of his puppy-love daze long enough to notice.

Then there are Bartlett’s two pals that would give him the shirt off their backs and all he does is lead them down a dangerous and tragic path.  Bartlett’s roommate Danny (Frank McHugh) is willing to do absolutely anything to help his buddy make it, and it costs him big when Bartlett continually puts him in harm’s way.  And Bartlett’s old war buddy, Lloyd (Jeffry Lynn), who’s now a lawyer, barely makes it out of Bartlett’s racket by the skin of his teeth.

What sets this film apart from so many gangster of the time is that director Raoul Walsh gives us a story that’s more epic in nature than what we’ve come to expect from these sorts of crime films.  These are three dimensional characters that all have interests and desires that, like in real life, don’t all orbit around one central character so that everything wraps up nicely before the credits.

Cagney’s Bartlett is a man with a serious tragic flaw – he can’t always put aside his own ambition to see the bigger picture.  It costs him in the end when he passes up one too many chances to take care of his business partner, and rival, George Hally (Bogart), leaving us with a bittersweet finale after Bartlett finally does the right thing, albeit a little too late.

The Bogart Factor

Bogart’s got a strong first ten minutes in the film and then disappears until about halfway through.  It’s not as well rounded a character as Cagney has to play with, as Bogart plays a slightly more typical bad guy, but it does have its moments.

Director Walsh is able to misdirect us a bit, making Bogart’s George Hally a borderline likable guy.  There’s an inkling here and there that Hally could go bad, but we really don’t know for sure until the final act of the film.

Small scenes are given to Bogart’s character that are able to show his menace, while at the same time giving us motivation for his eventual turn on Cagney.  In particular, Walsh crafts a great little side story where Hally comes across his old, belligerent army Sergeant (Joe Sawyer) as the bootleggers are committing a robbery.  Through just a few lines earlier in the movie, we know that Hally feels as if he’s been mistreated by the Sergeant, a man that Hally has always felt superior to.  At both points in the film, we don’t yet know that Bogart’s going to turn on Cagney, and so it’s not hard for us to understand Hally’s satisfaction in getting revenge on his old tormenter. It also adds a little color to Bogart’s character as we learn that he doesn’t like taking orders from anyone – which ends up being George Hally’s tragic flaw.

The Cast

Priscilla Lane is very good as Jean Sherman, the teenage girl who writes Cagney during the war and then steals his heart when he gets home.  She very convincingly plays ignorant to Cagney’s advances, and it’s easy to believe that she’d fall for a character like Jeffrey Lynn’s stand-up Lloyd.

Perhaps my favorite moments of the film happen with Frank McHugh’s portrayal of Cagney’s best friend, Danny.  McHugh’s comic timing and expressive face inject a lot of good nature and levity into the early part of the movie, and he works very well with Cagney.  McHugh pops up here and there in a lot of Classic Hollywood films, and I need to further explore his filmography.

Another high point is Gladys George (Iva Archer in The Maltese Falcon) as a speakeasy hostess who has a thing for Cagney.  She takes the role well beyond the caricature that it could have been, and gives the audience a strong character that we can relate to as she watches Cagney spin out of control.

Don’t Forget to Notice

A number of Bogie regulars show up in character roles – Joe Sawyer as the Sergeant, Ben Welden as a bar owner, and Eddie Acuff as a taxi driver.  My goal before this blog is done is to create a cross referenced list of all the actors who pop up in Bogart’s movies again and again.

Classic Bogie Moment

The scene that sticks out to me most is one that comes early in the film and shows Bogart’s skill at mixing humor and menace in the same moment.  Bogart, Cagney, and Lynn are all in a firefight, taking shots at Germans just before the war ends.  Lynn lines up a man in his sights, but can’t bring himself to fire:

Bogart:  What’s the matter Harvard?  You lose the Heinie?

Lynn:  No, but he looks like a kid about fifteen years old.

Bogart:  (TAKES THE SHOT AND SNEERS) He won’t be sixteen . . .

The Bottom Line

This is a great film, and while it might not be one of Bogart’s most iconic roles, he plays his part very well and gives us a heavy that can stand up against Cagney as a believable threat.