Alexis Smith

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Birth Name: Gladys Smith

Date of Birth: June 8, 1921

Date of Death: June 9, 1993

Number of Films that Alexis Smith Made with Humphrey Bogart: 3

The Lowdown

Full disclosure – my first memory of Smith is her work on Cheers when she had an affair with Sam Malone, playing Rebecca’s old college prof. Good grief, Alexis Smith was gorgeous at every age.

Born in Canada, raised in L.A., and discovered by Warner Brothers during a college play, Smith would go on to star along some of Hollywood’s biggest names – Gable, Flynn, Grant, Crosby, and yes, Humphrey Bogart.

To be clear, I had a hard time discovering whether her birth name was really Gladys or Margret. One site says one thing. Another says something else. It does look like her mother’s name was Gladys, so . . . if anyone out there can help me out, it’d be great!

Tall, lithe, and gorgeous, Alexis Smith  was nicknamed “Dynamite Girl” by Warner Brothers despite the fact that she my not have enjoyed the name. She went from dancing at a young age, to theater as a teen, to films with some of Hollywood’s elite, to a long and successful marriage and a return to the stage with husband Craig Stevens.

I really like all three films that Smith starred in with Bogart (although in one they never met on screen) and I’m happy to add her to The Usual Suspects. From everything I’ve read, she was an easygoing, relaxed, and giving actress to work with, and many Hollywood legends had nothing but good things to say about her.

The Filmography

Thank Your Lucky Stars – 1943

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The good news – Smith gets to show off the dance skills that she honed at an early age. The bad news – this wonderfully goofy film is a star-studded war effort supporter with many, many celebrities making cameos one after another. So no, Bogart and Smith don’t meet here as they merely lend their glitz and glamour to the overall production led by a hilarious Eddie Cantor in a dual role as himself and a tour bus driver. But the film is a ton of fun and Smith looks amazing!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Conflict – 1945

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Smith plays Evelyn Turner, the younger sister of the wife that Bogart murders in this highly underrated gem. While I didn’t feel quite enough chemistry between Smith and Bogart to believe the infatuation he supposedly has for her, she is very good in the role and I couldn’t help but anxiously chew my nails as I waited for her and Sydney Greenstreet to figure out what was going on. Perhaps if she’d been characterized as a little bit more of a friendly flirt who lots of guys fall for? I don’t know. Other than the chemistry factor, I thought she was solid.

You can read my original post on the film here.

The Two Mrs. Carrolls – 1947

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In another underrated gem, Smith plays family friend and rich young socialite, Cecily Latham. It’s an incredible treat to see here play a role so opposite of the young and naïve gal she portrayed in Conflict, and seeing her put on the charm to win over Bogart makes for a lot of fun as well. Just look at that pic above. . . you can read the bad girl intentions all over her face, can’t you?

Smoldering persona. Great outfits. Strong acting. This is perhaps my favorite Alexis Smith role as it’s hard to look at anything else when she’s on the screen.

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.*

 

The Two Mrs. Carrolls – 1947

The Two Mrs. Carrolls Poster

My Review

—A Fun Thriller That Deserves a Look—

Bogie Film Fix:

3.5 Bogie out of 5 Bogies!

Director: Peter Godfrey

The Lowdown

After losing his invalid wife, a depressed and troubled painter (Humphrey Bogart) marries another woman (Barbara Stanwyk), but the honeymoon phase of their relationship doesn’t last long.

What I Thought

My expectations were low after having seen a few poor reviews for this film, but I absolutely loved it. Bogart is creepy and menacing, Barbara Stanwyck is strong even while playing the damsel in distress, and the beautiful Alexis Smith gets time to shine as the bad girl – a far cry from the role that she played in Conflict.

What’s not to enjoy about this film? It may not be Hitchcock, but it’s still really good. There are some great tense moments between Bogart and Stanwyk, and Director Godfrey plays the plot twists with just the right touch as to not take away from the overall film. This is a very good thriller with a lot to love.

The actors are what makes this film work, and more than likely they help cover a few of the more bumpy spots in the script. Bogart’s final line makes this movie worth a viewing on its own!

Fair warning – multiple reviews that I’ve read online spoil some of the surprises, so if you don’t want to know too much, avoid them!

The Bogart Factor

Critics at the time said that Bogart was miscast as the dark and brooding artist, Geoffrey Carroll. The only thing “miscast” about this film was the art that was used to illustrate his talent. It was horrible and looked like something that I could have done with a couple of hours and a basic art set. Other than that, Bogart does very well here.

He’s creepy, conniving, prone to violent outbursts, and yet still able to come off as likable at times. He gets the chance to show a real range here, and it’s certainly a must see for any Bogart fans. If you paired this one with Conflict for a double-Bogart, double-thriller, double-feature, you’d have pretty good night of entertainment.

The Cast

Barbara Stanwyk plays Sally Morton Carroll, the woman that Bogart has a brief affair with and then eventually marries after his first wife dies. Stanwyk does a nice job of balancing strength and terror in the role, and watching Bogart’s secrets slowly dawn on her makes for some of the film’s best moments. It’s nice to see her play a more sympathetic character after just watching her scheme and murder her way through Double Indemnity.

Alexis Smith plays family friend and rich young socialite, Cecily Latham. It’s an incredible treat to see here play a role so opposite of the young and naïve gal she portrayed in Conflict, and seeing her put on the charm to win over Bogart makes for a lot of fun as well. I really like Alexis Smith and I need to explore her filmography further.

Ann Carter steals many of her scenes as she plays Bogart’s cold and distant daughter, Beatrice Carroll. If sociopathic genes are passed on from one generation to the next, then this film could be a prime example of what that looks like. Carter is one of the better child actors that I’ve seen Bogart work with, and her aloofness is chilling. She seems to want nothing more in life than a good private school where she can ignore all the trouble that waits for her at home.

Barry Bernard plays Horace Blagdon, the sniveling little pharmacist that blackmails Bogart. While it’s not a huge role, it deserves a mention here. The character isn’t that fleshed out and is used mainly to add tension to the plot when needed, but Bernard plays it well and it’s a prime example of using a solid character actor to add color to a film.

Patrick O’Moore plays Barbara Stanwyk’s ex, Charles Pennington. To be honest, I kind of forgot that he was in the film until I looked up the cast list to do this post. Not that he was bad, just not all that memorable.

Classic Bogie Moment

One of the best expressive moments of Bogart’s career! He realizes the jig is up, and almost looks directly into the camera, as he rolls his eyes in a wonderful “Oh, s**t!” moment!

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The Bottom Line

I’m already anxious to rewatch this one, and highly recommend it!