Ray Enright

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Birth Name: Ray Enright

Date of Birth: March 25, 1896

Date of Death: April 3, 1965

Number of Films that Ray Enright Made with Humphrey Bogart: 3

The Lowdown

Ray who? Okay, settle down. Before anyone throws a hissy fit, just take a deep breath and realize that Director and Editor Ray Enright was the type of guy that kept Warner Brothers rolling. Were his films giant colossal hits? Not really. But on many weekends, when there was nothing huge in the theater, people could often relax and enjoy a musical, a romantic comedy, or a Western directed by Enright.

I’ll also admit that one of his Bogie collaborations – Swing Your Lady – is in my “Top 3” guilty pleasures of Bogart’s filmography. But more on that later.

Born in Indiana and raised in L.A., Enright started as a cutter in Hollywood before taking a break to serve in World War I, and then returning to Warner Brothers to cut for two more years before becoming a director. I’ve done a little research on what exactly a “cutter” is, since it seems to me that if Enright had strictly been an editor, it would be listed that way. The cutter appears to be an assistant position alongside an editor on a film that works on some of the more manual tasks of physically cutting the film and rearranging scenes according to the editor’s desires.

Yes, Bogart has been quoted as saying that Enright directed his “worst” film (again, we’ll get to that later…), but come on. . . there are a handful of real doozy’s out there. To claim that any of the three films Enright was a part of were the “worst” is kind of stretching it. (A Holy Terror, anyone???)

Enright was also the director who was inadvertently involved in Bogart being suspended from Warner Brothers after the actor balked at starring in the Enright directed Western, Bad Men from Missouri. According to the Sperber/Lax Bogie bio, the actor returned the script with “Are you kidding–?” written on the cover.

All that said, Enright is a multi-time Bogart collaborator. The man worked with everyone from Rin Tin Tin to Joan Blondell to Randoph Scott. And I personally love one of his flops. Hey! I’m in charge here! The man goes into The Usual Suspects! If ya got a problem with that, and you wanna get slapped, come on over and complain about it!

The Filmography

China Clipper – 1936

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There was a moment about fifteen minutes into this film where I thought I might have found a real hidden gem. China Clipper isn’t widely available to watch or purchase, and I was just getting ready to write my complaint email to Warner Brothers when I suddenly understood the lack of enthusiasm behind the film.

The problem comes about midway through. Star Pat O’Brien seems to hit the peak of his character arc and just kind of flat lines. He learns his lesson on why he shouldn’t abuse his friends, family, wife, and coworkers, and he makes his apologies. Unfortunately, there’s still a good forty minutes left in the movie and the character apparently has nowhere left to go. Not only that, but whatever growth supposedly took place is quickly ignored as he reverts back to old habits, except now we’re supposed to be sympathetic to the same plight that alienated him from everyone who loves him.

This is a rare melodramatic turn for Director Enright who tended to go for lighter fare. If you like to watch repetitive shots of an airplane flying through clouds, maybe you’ll like the ending better than I did, but once O’ Brien’s character began to lose steam, I did too.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Swing Your Lady – 1938

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Ronald Reagan. Frank McHugh. Nat Pendleton. Penny Singleton. Allen Jenkins. Come on! You can give this one some grace, can’t you?

For all of the horrible things that I’d heard about this movie, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as its reputation. It’s got a 4.5 user rating on IMDB and that seems unfairly harsh. Perhaps my expectations were so low that anything would’ve seemed better than the horror that I expected. I watched this one late at night in a hotel and enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought the DVD.

This film is much more along the lines of Director Enright’s usual fare of goofy characters, stretched out plots, and light love stories. Bogart is Ed Hatch, a traveling professional wrestling promoter who’s trying to break into the big time at Madison Square Garden.

Fortunately, what the movie lacks in plot coherency, I thought it actually made up for in charm. Do Bogart’s small town intentions make sense? In the long run, nope. Are a few of the characters a little over-caricatured? Oh, yeah. But every one of them was able to squeak out at least one or two laughs from me. There are some fun musical numbers (another Enright-ism) and enough comedic actors packed in to make it worth at least one viewing. Come on, people! Let’s get those user ratings up for this one!

And to be fair, Warner Bros agreed to give Bogart a raise if he agreed to to this one. So, worth it, right? Okay, sure, it bombed at the theaters – but some critics of the time liked it!

You can read my original post on the film here.

The Wagons Roll at Night – 1941

Wagons Roll at Night Poster

So . . . this one might have been in trouble from the beginning as the name for the film was changed from Carnival to The Wagons Roll at Night to try and cash in on that really popular “at/by night” theme that worked so well with They Drive by Night. You know how audiences turn out in droves to see films that take place at night, right?

Director Enright does a good job working the camera angles and cutting the film in such a way that it’s easy to forget Eddie Albert, Sig Ruman, and Bogart were rarely (if ever, in some cases) in the cage with the lions. It’s these life-or-death situations that lend an extra dose of gravitas to the film.

It’s important to note that Warner Brothers got some flack for making a movie that seemed to be a real retread of a previous Bogart film. You might find that understandable if you take just a second to consider this plot –

An entertainment promoter replaces his top drawing performer with an untrained yokel. The promoter’s girlfriend then ends up falling for the yokel and believes that he might be falling for her as well. Due to outside circumstances, the yokel has to disappear for a while until some trouble simmers down and ends up staying at the farm where the promoter grew up. While at the farm, he ends up falling in love with the promoter’s sister and it eventually leads to a life or death scenario for several of the characters involved . . .

Sound familiar to you Bogart die hards? It should. As it’s the exact same plot for both 1937’s Kid Galahad as well as 1941’s The Wagons Roll at Night. Replace boxing with the circus, Edward G. Robinson with Bogart, Bette Davis with Sylvia Sydney, and Wayne Morris with Eddie Albert, and Wagons is practically identical. (To carry the comparison to completion, you also have to replace Kid Galahad’s Bogart with The Wagons Roll at Night’s man-eating lion. Pretty even swap, if you ask me.)

Still, despite the similarities, there’s plenty to enjoy here. Yes, we lose Robinson and Davis, but Sylvia Sydney does fine, and Eddie Albert might even be an ever-so-slight step up from Wayne Morris’ stiff amateur boxer. The change of locale is really what helps this film distinguish itself from Galahad, as the excitement of the circus life and the action with the lions adds an entirely new element of tension to the story.

While the stakes in Galahad rest in the possibility of eventual death at the hands of mobsters, The Wagon’s Roll at Night is able to present a much more immediate and constant threat for its protagonist from the hazards of the lion taming occupation.

Is one better than the other? Well, if I had my druthers, I’d always prefer to keep Robinson and Davis in the equation with Bogart, but overall I found The Wagons Roll at Night to be a more re-watchable film. More than likely that’s because Bogart got top billing and appears in a majority of the scenes – but entertainment wise, I think this one has an edge over its boxing predecessor.

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.*

Allen Jenkins

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Birth Name: David Allen Curtis Jenkins

Date of Birth: April 9, 1900

Date of Death: July 20, 1974

Number of Films Allen Jenkins Made With Humphrey Bogart: 7

The Lowdown

When I started ‘The Usual Suspects’ portion of the blog, I would occasionally get tweets or emails asking when I was going to do a write-up on so-and-so. Peter Lorre. Sydney Greenstreet. Lauren Bacall. But surprisingly, the actor that I received the most requests about was Allen Jenkins.

Born to parents who both had experience as singers and actors, Jenkins started his career next to James Cagney on Broadway before heading west to become one of Hollywood’s most talented scene stealers. Often playing a secondary thug or menial laborer (his usual duties in most Bogart films), Jenkins had an amazing gift of timing and line delivery. His addition to the supporting cast of any film automatically upped the quality of the picture considerably.

And have I mentioned yet that he was the voice of Officer Dibble on Top Cat for Hanna-Barbera?

The first Bogart film I saw with Jenkins was Brother Orchid, where he had a small but unforgettable role as a murderous henchman who was getting a little R&R as he laid low in a sanitarium. That funny, but all too brief, appearance marked him in my mind as a notable talent, and then he just kept popping up again and again as I made my way through the rest of Bogart’s filmography.

Looking back now over the seven films that they shared together, only one of them (Dead End) would probably be deemed as a Classic by most critics and fans, but despite the quality of the other six films, Jenkins was able to consistently deliver the goods and make the most out of each of his roles.

The Filmography

Three on a Match – 1932

Three on a Match Jenkins

Jenkins plays Dick, one of Bogart’s lackeys. It’s a pretty small part as Bogart’s crew of thugs doesn’t show up until the last act, but even with just a few minutes, Jenkins is able to convey an incredible amount of confidence onscreen as he makes his supporting role look effortless. It’s an excellent use of a character actor to bolster the quality of a film – even in a tiny role. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Marked Woman – 1937

Marked Woman Jenkins

Jenkins plays Louie, the somewhat shady wardrobe supplier for Bette Davis and her nightclub escort roommates. He’s a bit gangster and a bit fashion designer. Hey, what else are you going to do if you’re a street smart black marketer who just happens to have a good eye for color palettes? Jenkins has a great exchange with Mayo Methot when he first appears, knocking on the door and then immediately entering the gals’ apartment.

Methot: (SITTING UP FROM THE COUCH WHILE NURSING A HANGOVER AS JENKINS KNOCKS AND ENTERS) Don’t you believe in knocking twice?

Jenkins: Don’t you believe in praying once?

Methot: No.

Jenkins: So we’re even!

You can read my original write up on the film here.

Dead End – 1937

Dead End Jenkins

Jenkins plays Bogart’s right-hand henchman, Hunk. It’s another fantastic supporting role, that while not integral to the overall film, really lifts the quality of a film that’s already full of numerous character actors from the classic era. While this role leans a little more on melodrama rather than the comic relief that Jenkins was so good at, it’s a real testament to his talent that we believe he’s the heavy that he’s supposed to be. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Swing Your Lady – 1938

Swing Your Lady Jenkins

Jenkins plays Shiner, one of Bogart’s trainers (con men?) that’s charged with helping Bogie turn Nat Pendelton into a professional wrestling box office draw. It’s a solid little supporting role alongside of Frank McHugh, and while most of the comedic heavy lifting is given to the film’s hillbillies, Jenkins still gets some time to mug around and get some laughs. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Racket Busters – 1938

Racket Busters Jenkins

Jenkins is one of the few bright spots in the film, playing trucker, ‘Skeets’ Wilson, who opens up his own tomato company during a trucking racket controversy. He has a few nice scenes with Penny Singleton who plays his wife in the film, but even with these two comedic dynamos, the writers weren’t able to give the couple more than one or two mild laughs. You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse – 1938

Jenkins Amazing Dr Clitterhouse

Jenkins plays Okay, one of the henchmen under the thumb of Bogart, and then eventually Edward G. Robinson, as Robinson turns from practicing medicine to studying the psyches of criminals. He spends most of his screen time horsing around with Max Rosenbloom, and it’s another solid performance for Jenkins. (The crew uses the guise of a string quartet to lay low, which is a pretty great ruse as far as I’m concerned.) You can read my original write up on the film here.

Brother Orchid – 1940

Jenkins Brother Orchid

Jenkins plays Willie the Knife, one of Edward G. Robinson’s gangster buddies that’s laying low in an asylum “pretending to be crazy” as he waits to see how things with Robinson shake out. He’s one of the first people Robinson turns to when he needs to take his turf back from Bogart and his old crew who edged him out. The character really ends up going nowhere, but all you have to do is tell me, “Allen Jenkins has a small role as a knife-happy thug who’s hiding in an insane asylum” and I’m THERE! 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. You can read the rest of the entries here.*

Frank McHugh

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Name: Francis Curray McHugh

Birthdate: May 23, 1898

Number of Films Frank McHugh made with Humphrey Bogart: 5

The Lowdown

I have yet to talk to anyone that doesn’t love Frank McHugh. Every time he pops up in a film, no matter how large or how small the role, McHugh always makes it better.

Starting out in the theater as a child before going on to work with nearly every big named star at Warner Brothers over the span of his lifetime, McHugh was a gifted character actor with incredible comedic chops and a face built for registering any emotion.

I honestly can’t remember the first time I saw McHugh in a film, but I know that every time he appears in one of Bogart’s, I can’t take my eyes off of the guy. Is it possible that he was as sweet, goofy, and personable in real life as he was on the big screen? I don’t know. But that laugh! Good grief, that slow, donkey-ish, I’m running out of breath, staccato laugh was so great!

I defy you to find anyone that knows who he is and still says that they don’t like him . . .

The Filmography

Bullets or Ballots – 1936

Bullets or BallotsWith Joan Blondell . . .

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McHugh plays Herman, Joan Blondell’s numbers-running sidekick. The part is small, but McHugh works really well with Blondell as he mugs his way to stealing nearly every scene that he’s in. This film is a great example of how just a little dose of McHugh lends a lot of great comic relief to a movie. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Swing Your Lady – 1938

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With Leon Weaver, Bogart, and Allen Jenkins . . .

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McHugh plays Popeye, one of the trainers that helps Bogart pull off a professional wrestling match out in the sticks of rural USA. The film’s gotten a lot of criticism for its over-the-top ridiculousness over the years, but I loved it. McHugh is great alongside Bogart and Allen Jenkins as they do a slightly subdued combination of The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers. So often, McHugh played comic relief for semi-serious films, so for me it was a hoot to see all these guys playing for laughs in a screwball comedy. You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Roaring Twenties – 1939

Roaring TwentiesWelcoming Cagney Home . . .

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McHugh plays Danny, best friend to James Cagney’s returning war veteran. Out of all of Bogart’s films, this is probably McHugh’s most grounded role, as he seems to be playing realistic camaraderie with Cagney rather than outright comic relief – and it’s my favorite McHugh character that I’ve reviewed for the blog. Wouldn’t anyone like a best friend like Danny? I think a little piece of me died during McHugh’s final scene. . . You can read my original write up on the film here.

Virginia City – 1940

virginia city 2With Miriam Hopkins and Bogart . . .

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McHugh appears briefly as Mr. Upjohn, a very nervous insurance salesman who gets robbed by Bogart on a stagecoach with Errol Flynn and Miriam Hopkins. While this film is probably best known to Bogart fans as the one with the HORRIBLE accent, his scene with McHugh is good for a few laughs, and even though it’s a tiny role, it’s always fun to see McHugh pop up. You can read my original write up on the film here.

All Through the Night – 1942

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McHugh plays Barney, one of Bogart’s three sidekicks alongside William Demarest and Jackie Gleason. A gangster/WWII crossover spoof, I can’t say enough good things about this film. The comedy with McHugh, Demarest, and Gleason hits all the right notes, and McHugh’s nervous-nelly newlywed is one of the big highlights of the film. You can read my original write up on the film here.

*The Usual Suspects is a regular feature on the blog where some of Bogart’s best collaborator’s are given their own spaces to shine. You can read the rest of the entries here.

Swing Your Lady – 1938 

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My Review

—A Weak Script, but Fun Film—

Your Bogie Fix:

2 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: Ray Enright

The Lowdown

For all of the horrible things that I’d heard about this movie, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as its reputation.  It’s got a 4.5 user rating on IMDB and that seems unfairly harsh, but perhaps my expectations were so low that anything would’ve seemed better than the horror that I expected.

Bogart is Ed Hatch, a traveling professional wrestling promoter who’s trying to break into the big time at Madison Square Garden.  The wrestler that he’s attached himself to is a big, dumb, lummox of an ape named Joe Skopapoulus (Nat Pendleton) who’s so brainless that even the dinging of a hotel bell will send him into a wrasslin’ fit.  Pendleton plays Skopapoulus unrealistically dumb to the point that the character would be much more at home in that one pro wrestling Bugs Bunny cartoon rather than walking around in the real world.

Hatch, his girlfriend Cookie (a wonderful Penny Singleton), Skopapoulus, and Hatch’s crew (Trainers?  Marketing Men?  Cronies?) find themselves deep in the Ozarks in a little town named Plunkett when they stumble across a possible opponent for Skopapoulus that they can use to garner some attention.  Why do they think that wrestling their champ in the middle-of-nowhere will garner them attention?  I don’t know, and they really don’t seem to either.

Enter Sadie Horn (Louise Fazenda), a rough and tumble ox-like woman who works as a blacksmith and has the ability to lift Hatch’s car right out of a pothole when it gets stuck.  Hatch sees a potential intergender novelty match in the making, and starts to set up the fight.  But just when things start to fall into place, the big, dumb ape falls in love with the ox-like blacksmith – they kiss – and the fight is off.  Luckily for Hatch, there are plenty of enormous hillbilly bumpkins running around, and one of Sadie’s unrequited suitors, Noah Wulliver (Daniel Boone Savage), comes running in to defend the woman that he loves from the traveling wrestler.

So a new match is on!  Skopapoulus vs. Wulliver, and Sadie will be the prize for the winner!  Except Hatch doesn’t want to drag Sadie all over the country with his champ, so he tells Skopapoulus to take a dive.  (So why are they in this town?  To gain attention by losing?  But no one will notice because they’re in the Ozarks, right?  So why go on with the match???)  Yet, lo and behold, the powers that be in professional wrestling get wind of the fight, and offer the winner a match . . . get ready for this . . . at Madison Square Garden!  So now Hatch’s fighter needs to win!

Whew.

Fortunately, what the movie lacks in plot coherency, I thought it actually made up for in charm.  Are a few of the characters a little over-caricatured?  Sure.  But every one of them was able to squeak out at least one or two laughs from me.

And don’t be fooled like I was by any of Bogie’s biographies that make it sound like he was unhappily sleepwalking through this role.  He’s Bogie, and even with so little to work with, he’s a lot of fun to watch as the slick, big city promoter who’s always thinking two steps ahead of his current scheme.

Script flaws not withstanding, this movie is far more watchable than I’d been led to believe, and if it reran on TCM, I’d probably watch it through again.  It’s harmless, family-friendly fun.  Ronald Reagan even shows up in a very small role as a reporter towards the end of the film.

The Great

Penny Singleton’s character of Cookie doesn’t have a whole lot to do or say, but when she starts singing (Oh, did I forget to mention that this movie is almost/kind of a musical?) she is so doggone wonderful and cute that I gave the rest of the movie a pass.  Turns out that Cookie is a bit of a hillbilly at heart, and she jumps right in with the locals on a few song and dance numbers.  Most will remember Singleton as Blondie Bumstead from all of those 40’s movies.  Her second song towards the end of the film is so adorably endearing, I admit that I may have developed more than a little crush on her.

The Good

Hmmmm.  I easily made it all the way through the movie even though I’d been led to believe that I wouldn’t.  That’s good, right?  The supporting cast is adequate here, mostly diving deep, deep, deep into hillbilly cliché and caricature.  That being said, I think if you go into the movie with the knowledge that it’s an over-the-top screwball comedy, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Classic Bogie Moment

Bogart gets to use his comedy chops here, as only he can do.  It’s great to see someone who can be so menacing, effortlessly play light as well.  One of my favorite exchanges comes when Hatch asks Sadie if she’s interested in a match:

Bogart: Do you wanna wrassle?

Sadie:  What fer?

Bogart:  For money.

Sadie:  Sure!

And she immediately lunges at a wide eyed Bogart as if he meant for it to happen with him on the spot.

There’s also a great little interrogation scene where Bogart and his crew are trying to find out what’s wrong with Skopapoulus.  Bogie slips back a bit into his gangster persona as he yells, “Now listen ya conniving baboon, I’ll give you one more chance!  I’ll make ya talk!”

The Bottom Line

If you don’t mind gags that involve chickens falling out of cars and moonshine jugs, you won’t be offended by this.  It’s fun.  Don’t take it too seriously.  If nothing else, Bogie gets to play a character that we don’t see him tackle much in the rest of his films, and I dare say that it looks like he might even be having a little fun!

Fun Fact

Penny Singleton was the voice of Jane Jetson!  Really???  I may have to go back and watch this movie sooner than later!