Vincent Sherman

vincentsherman

Birth Name: Abraham Orovitz

Birthdate: July 16, 1906

Number of Films that Vincent Sherman Made with Humphrey Bogart: 5

The Lowdown

Born and raised in Georgia, Vincent Sherman started his show business career acting on Broadway before making the transition to small parts in Hollywood, and then eventually writing and directing for some of Tinseltown’s biggest stars.

There are a number of good interviews with Sherman available on YouTube that are easy to find if you search for his name. (Forgive me if I don’t link them directly, but I’m not sure of their legality and I try my best to keep ‘The Bogie Film Blog’ on the straight and narrow!) A couple of them give some great insights into Sherman’s work with Bogart and Sherman talks about how Warner Brothers tasked him with taking a well-known heavy (Bogart) and trying to do something else with him – including trying to make him a leading man. While Bogart had received some great reviews for High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon, Sherman says that more than a few people questioned Bogart’s ability to “get the girl” when Sherman was asked to direct the actor in All Through the Night.

In short, I really love and appreciate all five of the films that Sherman and Bogart collaborated on together. Other than Across the Pacific, I think one of the defining aspects of all the films that Sherman worked on with Bogart is that he was able to insert an incredible sense of humor into all of the stories, giving them a camp-like feel as he took well-worn genres (horror, gangster) and turned them on their heads.

From both of their interviews, it sounds like Sherman and Bogart admired and respected each other greatly, even if Sherman says Bogart “groused” a lot about the scripts.  It’s a relationship that paid off well onscreen and left us a few of Bogart’s most unique roles.  . It’s also fun to note that Sherman was on both sides of Bogart’s transition from B-films (The Return of Doctor X) to more A-list affairs (Across the Pacific).

Both men also did their fair share of battling with The House Un-American Activities Committee, although Sherman got the shorter end of the stick as he was eventually punished by being blacklisted.

The Filmography

Crime School – 1938 (Screenplay, Dialogue Director)

Crime School Poster

Credited for the screenplay alongside of Crane Wilbur, this is probably my least favorite film out of all the collaborations that Sherman had with Bogart. It’s a fairly pedestrian script that is incredibly reminiscent of an earlier Bogart film (San Quentin), and it doesn’t have as much of Sherman’s humor injected into it like the next three films. Not a terrible movie, but probably not a must see unless you’re a Bogart completist, or you really like The “Dead End” Kids who appear in a few solid roles. You can read my original write up on the film here.

King of the Underworld – 1939 (Screenplay, Dialogue Director)

King of the Underworld Poster

Credited for the screenplay alongside of George Bricker, this one’s a step up from Crime School, but suffers quite a bit tonally as Director Lewis Seiler can’t seem to decide whether or not we’re supposed to laugh at, or fear, Bogart. I have a suspicion that since both Sherman and Seiler had a penchant for funny gangster films (Seiler would go on to direct It All Came True) they couldn’t help but add a little too much humor into this one. One of the best moments – and one of my all-time favorite comedic moments for Bogart, comes in this film when Kay Francis, playing a doctor, diagnoses Bogart’s gangster kingpin as “the moronic type.” Being a bit dimwitted, Bogart takes the diagnosis as if it might be a life threatening disease. (And perhaps it could be argued that it is for him in this film!) Again, not a must see, but there’s a lot of fun to be had in this script. It’s a bit reminiscent of The Petrified Forest as there’s a traveling writer who’s taken hostage by gangsters and eventually falls in love; but it’s not so close as to ruin the film by comparison. You can read my original write up on the film here.

The Return of Doctor X – 1939 (Director)

drx

After reading everything written about Sherman’s directorial debut, I fully prepared myself to hate this one. Sherman said that he was given the choice to do this horror film or a comedy, and chose this one as the lesser of two evils. Bogart supposedly hated the movie. Critics hated the movie. The script was supposedly awful. There was surely no way this was going to be enjoyable was there? I loved it. I’m not kidding; this film is a campy blast. Sherman shows a great eye for scene setup and playing soap opera melodrama for full effect. Yes, the script was bad, but Sherman seems to be filming every moment with a tongue-firmly-placed-in-cheek style humor. To follow up just two years later with All Through the Night, I have to believe that Sherman was intentionally playing with clichéd horror movie tropes, poking fun at the very fans that were paying to see this film. Fortunately, he does it with such style that I couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy myself for all 62 minutes of this feature. You can read my original write up on the film here.

All Through the Night – 1942 (Director)

allthru

With a star-studded cast that included Bogart, Peter Lorre, Conrad Veidt, Kaaren Verne, Frank McHugh, William Demarest, Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers, Barton McClane, Ben Welden, and Jane Darwell, a hilarious script, and wonderful action scenes, this is easily my favorite film out of all the Sherman/Bogart collaborations. There are multiple laugh-out-loud moments. Lorre plays one of the best creepy villains of all time. Bogart gets to sock Nazis! What else do you need? Watching Bogart and Demarest go undercover into a secret Nazi meeting as munitions experts is so stinking funny that it’s worth owning the DVD for that scene alone. A gangster chasing down a gang of Nazis for killing his favorite baker? It’s a preposterous plot, but Sherman never takes the film seriously long enough to let you think about it. The way he’s able to balance action, drama, and comedy all in one film makes me wonder why this one’s not more talked about. It’s definitely in my top five re-watchable Bogart films and it should be in yours too. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Across the Pacific – 1942 (Director, Final Scenes)

Across the Pacific

Directed by John Huston and reuniting an amazing acting trio (Bogart, Astor, and Greenstreet) from The Maltese Falcon’s cast, Sherman was only brought in at the very end to finish up the last few scenes when Huston had to go off to make documentaries for the U.S. during World War II. If you didn’t know about the director switch ahead of time, you’d never notice. Sherman does fine with his few minutes, making them blend in seamlessly with Huston’s work. As the story goes, the day Sherman came in to take over, Huston was filming the scene where Bogart is trapped in a movie theater at the end of the film. When Sherman asked Huston how Bogart gets out, Huston told him it was his problem to figure it out. He was off to the war! Whether it’s true, or (more than likely) just the stuff of Hollywood legend, it’s a fun story, and it shows the respect that Sherman had earned over his years as a director to be called in to finish such a big film. You can read my original write up on the film this Sunday.

*The Usual Suspects is a portion of the blog where I highlight some of Bogart’s multi-film collaborators. It’s usually anyone who has struck my fancy. The only rule is that I have to have reviewed/posted all of their films before writing them up. You can see the rest of the growing list of suspects here.

Wayne Morris

Kid Galahad Morris

Morris with Jane Bryan and Bogart in ‘Kid Galahad’

.

Name: Bert DeWayne Morris

Birthdate: February 17, 1914

Number of Films that Wayne Morris made with Humphrey Bogart: 4

The Lowdown

My first Wayne Morris film was Kid Galahad, and I have to admit that it wasn’t an auspicious start for my journey through his Bogart collaborations. But the more I see Morris on screen, the more he grows on me. Typically playing goodhearted, albeit slightly dim, hunks, Morris had a chance in his all-too-short life to stand against some of Hollywood’s greatest legends before suffering a fatal heart attack at the very young age of 45.

With a promising leading man career ahead of him, Morris left Hollywood behind to follow a passion in flying that led him to receiving great honors for his service in World War II. After the war, Morris could never seem to get another big break in A-list films, but he did get one last good movie role opposite Kirk Douglas in Paths of Glory. Would it have been enough to carry him back up to a career resurgence? Most likely not, as he spent the next few years before his death appearing in various television Westerns, but it definitely showed that there was more to the good-statured blond than just his looks and his smile!

If you’ve got more interest in Morris and his military service, make sure to check out @HollywoodComet’s write up on him here.

The Filmography

China Clipper – 1936

China Clipper Morris

With Bogart and a few others . . .

.

It’s a blink and you’ll miss him role (as I did the first time I watched this film) as Morris plays the flight navigator next to Bogart on the Clipper. You could certainly do worse than starring with Bogart and Pat O’Brien in your very first film, right? You can read my original write up on the film here.

Kid Galahad – 1937

Kid Galahad Morris2

With Harry Carey

.

Morris plays the title role of Kid Galahad. He seems a bit stiff and dopey, but it was still fairly early in his career, and the script didn’t give him a lot to work with. But the moment Morris smiles on screen, you can’t take your eyes off of him! I can see why the studio thought that he had potential as a leading man. Plus, he gets to slug Bogart, steal Bette Davis’ heart, and work alongside of Edward G. Robinson. This had to have been a big thrill for the young actor as he went toe-to-toe with so many great Hollywood stars. You can read my original write up on the film here.

Men are Such Fools – 1938

Men are Such Fools Morris

With Priscilla Lane

.

Morris plays Jimmy Hall, the love interest to Priscilla Lane, and unfortunately, I’m not exactly sure what else to even say about his character here. In an incredibly strangely scripted film, we watch characters make a lot of choices without any motivation or reason to back them up. Yet, Morris still comes off as the best part of this movie with his good looks and charm shining brightly, and once again, he gets to knock Bogart flat as they play romantic rivals fighting for Lane’s love. It was heartbreaking to see Morris so likable with so little good material. A better script – even a barely decent script – and this film could have been so much better. If nothing else, you can spend some time enjoying what men’s bathing suits used to look like!

men are such fools swimsuits

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

The Return of Doctor X – 1939Return of Doctor X Morris

With Dennis Morgan

.

I’m an unabashed fan of this cult classic, so it was so much fun to see Morris shine as the Wichita-hick-moved-to-the-big-city reporter, Walter Garrett. He’s bumbling, affable, naïve, and just charming enough to make his character enjoyable to watch. Morris deftly handles the campy comedy and the (somewhat) tension filled moments with grace and ease. Some of my favorite Morris moments:

Morris: (ON THE PHONE, REPORTING THE INITIAL MURDER OF AN ACTRESS THAT SPURS HIS INVESTIGATION) There’s nobody here except a monkey, and he couldn’t have done it!

Is it strange that a washed up actress has a pet monkey? Not to Morris, apparently! Not enough to mention anyways.

And then there’s the scene where Morris’ reporter has to convince Dennis Morgan’s respected surgeon, Dr. Rhodes, to go see if Bogart is really a corpse that’s returned to the land of the living:

Morris: The burial took place at Greenlawn Cemetary. Okay, let’s go out to the cemetery and find out tonight.

Morgan: (SHRUGGING NONCHALANTLY, AS IF JUST ASKED OUT FOR COFFEE) All right.

Yup! Nothing strange about big city reporter and a respected surgeon digging up graves in the middle of night! Nope, typical evening in the big city!

Morris’ relationship with Morgan comes off very much as a precursor to the Mulder/Scully relationship in The X-Files – and I say that as a huge X-Files fan. You can read my original write up on the film here.