Claire Trevor

Birth Name: Claire Wemlinger

Birth: March 8, 1910

Death: April 8, 2000

Number of Films Claire Trevor Made with Humphrey Bogart: 3

The Lowdown

Collaborations with Humphrey Bogart seemed to work out very well for Claire Trevor. She was nominated for an Oscar for her very brief but powerful role as Bogie’s ex-girlfriend in 1937’s Dead End. She went on to win the Oscar for her role as Edward G. Robinson’s alcoholic lounge singer girlfriend in 1948’s Key Largo. Add in her tremendous part in The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, and you get to see Trevor’s great range as an actress in just three of her more than sixty films.

Born in Brooklyn to an Irish mother and French father, Trevor had aspirations to be an actor since childhood and would go on to be a star on stage, radio, television, and film. Often playing the tough dame from the wrong side of the tracks, Trevor also did well early in her career in Westerns, even starring alongside a new young cowboy named John Wayne in Stagecoach.

What personally draws me to Trevor’s performances is her ability to play beauty, strength, and brokenness – often in the same character. Add in to that her lifelong passion for supporting the arts – Trevor became such a large supporter to the University of California, Irvine’s drama department that they named the acting school after her. She also donated both her Oscar and her Emmy to the school where they sit on permanent display.

I think Trevor is one of those great Classic Hollywood actresses who tends to be left out of conversations about the greats for some reason, but her film legacy, drama school namesake, and award recognitions are more than enough to earn her a bright spot in Hollywood history, and a spot in The Usual Suspects!

The Films

Dead End – 1937

Trevor plays Francey, Bogart’s ex who’s turned to prostitution to make ends meet. The scene they share coupled with the scene of Bogart being chastised by his mother are, I believe, two of the most powerful scenes from Bogart’s entire career. Director William Wyler had to leave out the overt references to both prostitution and syphilis in the scene she shares with Bogart here, but what’s left unsaid is even more powerful. Their sexual tension is off the charts. When they stand an inch away from one another before Bogart tries to kiss her, it feels like someone’s hold back two magnets from clanging together. Yes, Trevor is only in the film for a few minutes, but it was such a strong showing that she was nominated for an Oscar. That should be all you need to know!

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

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse – 1938

Trevor plays Jo Keller, the jewel fence that doctor/gangster Edward G. Robinson turns to when he needs to move some diamonds. Trevor is a lot of fun here, and we get to see her playing the tough gal who’s actually got some power over the fellas. Trevor’s unrequited pining for Robinson is great as we truly believe she’s fallen in love with the mind behind the man.

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

Key Largo – 1948

Trevor plays Robinson’s alcoholic girlfriend and former lounge singer, Gaye Dawn. She’s great in the role, and not surprisingly, won an Oscar for her performance as the gun moll that’s living out her last years in the bottom of a bottle while clinging to a madman who gave up on her a long time ago. One of the best behind-the-scenes stories from this film is that Director John Huston sprung Trevor’s A Cappella performance of “Moanin’ Low” on her the day of shooting. If true, it certainly helped give Trevor a shaky and painful performance that’ll make you cringe in the best possible way. Perhaps the greatest testament to her performance here is the fact that she seems so vulnerable and pathetic at the beginning of the film, only to come around and help and good guys at the end, giving us just a glimpse of the beauty and power she was able to play so well in a film like Clitterhouse.

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

*The Usual Suspects is an ongoing feature here at The Bogie Film Blog where we highlight some of Bogart’s greatest recurring costars! You can read the other entries in the series here.*

Joan Leslie

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Birth Name: Joan Agnes Theresa Sadie Brodel

Date of Birth: January 26, 1925

Date of Death: October 12, 2015

Number of Films that Joan Leslie Made with Humphrey Bogart: 5

The Lowdown

Born in Michigan, Joan Leslie jumped into show business early, joining her two older sisters in a family singing trio known as The Three Brodels. Leslie was two-and-a-half years old at the time, and would go on to perform around the country with her sisters on the vaudeville circuit to help her folks earn money during The Great Depression.

Discovered by MGM while performing with the trio in New York, Leslie made her way through more than a dozen films in bit parts and uncredited roles before landing a contract with Warner Brothers where she appeared with a high profile role in High Sierra next to an about-to-explode Humphrey Bogart.

Leslie would go on to receive great reviews in several more high profile films (Yankee Doodle Dandy and Sergeant York, notably) before finally being blacklisted by Warner Brothers after breaking her contract on religious and moral grounds. Leslie would eventually end up back with MGM, the studio that started it all for her, and finished out her career on the big screen and television before retiring in 1991.

I’ve always considered Joan Leslie to be a real joy to watch on screen. Mostly cast alongside of Bogart in the young and naive ingenue role, Leslie’s real life moral convictions played well on the big screen. And while she may have quit Warner Brothers to keep her convictions intact, Leslie was not afraid during her career to show a darker side to her characters if the script called for it in a sensible way.

I’m very happy to add Joan Leslie to the pantheon of The Usual Suspects!

The Filmography

High Sierra – 1941

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Leslie plays Velma, the young and disabled love interest to Bogart. Director Raoul Walsh uses her in small but powerful doses, and he doesn’t shy away from showing us that Leslie has a bit of a darker side towards the end. Leslie does great in the role and holds herself up against Bogart very well. Perhaps the best and most nuanced of her roles with Bogart, the audience is left feeling both sad for Bogart at the loss of potential redemption through love, but also a bit relieved at the thought that this young child won’t end up with a much older gangster. You can read my original post on the film here.

The Wagons Roll at Night – 1941

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Leslie plays Bogart’s baby sister, and the main love interest to Eddie Albert, Mary Coster. While she’s an even more innocent country kid than she was in High Sierra, Leslie doesn’t really have a whole lot to work with. Director Ray Enright’s instructions may well have been, “Look cute and fall in love with Eddie Albert. That’s all you need to know.” The role is almost identical to the one that Jane Bryan played in Kid Galahad as the younger sister who gets caught up in danger after falling for simpleton who’s making his way through showbiz. You can read my original post on the film here.

Thank Your Lucky Stars – 1943

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Leslie plays Pat Dixon, an aspiring young song writer who’s willing to do anything to get her music heard by the world. Leslie is a lot of fun in the role, although it’s a bit underwritten. She adds a nice little physical mannerism to Pat in that every time she starts to get a great idea, she tucks her head down and pounds on her temples. It’s also a lot of fun to see her impersonate James Cagney’s “My mother thanks you, my father thanks you. . .” speech from Yankee Doodle Dandy, considering that she’s the one who costarred with him in that film! Unfortunately, Leslie doesn’t appear in Bogart’s brief cameo, but it’s a fun film that you need to see regardless! You can read my original post on the film here.

I Am an American – 1944

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Leslie plays herself in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo with several other Hollywood celebs (including Bogart) during a rally to support the war effort. None of her lines are heard, and Leslie is shown for just seconds speaking to a crowd before it cuts to a speech by Dennis Morgan. You can read my original post on the film here.

Two Guys from Milwaukee – 1946

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Leslie plays the manicurist love interest to both Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson, Connie Read, and she’s very good in the role. Yes, she does seem a little shallow to leave Buzz behind for a prince just because he’s a prince. And yes, I’m still not quite sure what the whole psychotherapy dream at the end had to do with making her choice between the two men – but again – plot coherency shouldn’t be at the top of your priorities for enjoying this film. Again, no face time with Bogart during his small cameo, but the film is lots of fun and worth a watch. 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.*

Barton MacLane

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Birth Name: Ernest Barton MacLane

Date of Birth: December 25, 1902

Date of Death: January 1, 1969

Number of Films Barton MacLane Made with Humphrey Bogart: 6

Barton MacLane is a memorable guy. Large, gruff, and generally projecting a face that makes you assume that his stomach has been sour for several hours, MacLane was a staple tough guy in Hollywood films and television for five decades.

While many recognize MacLane from his role as Lieutenant MacBride in the Torchy film series, or his extended run as General Peterson on I Dream of Jeannie, I would guess that most casual Classic Film fans know him from his work alongside of Bogart in The Maltese Falcon, High Sierra, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

MacLane has been an actor that I’ve long planned on placing into The Usual Suspects. While most of his characters in Bogart films – either crooks or cops – tend to have the same gruff demeanor and bleak outlook on life, MacLane is one of those actors that made a long and successful career out of playing exactly the man you’d expect him to be based on his appearance.

That’s not to say that MacLane didn’t have a few surprises up his sleeve. Yes, he played college football, but did you also know that he could play the violin? Sure he played a cowboy for film and television and lived up to that Western persona as he worked his own cattle ranch in his down time, but did you know that he also attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, wrote and performed on Broadway, and was married to the talented and beautiful actress Charlotte Wynters?

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Regardless of how you might know Barton MacLane, the one thing I know for sure is that he was never miscast in a Bogie film. Gangster or Detective. Prison Guard or Conman. MacLane elevated every film he starred in with his commanding presence and his well-honed acting skills. (Plus, he and Bogart were both Christmas babies!) So today we welcome Barton MacLane into The Usual Suspects!

The Filmography

Bullets or Ballots – 1936

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MacLane plays racketeer Al Kruger, the man who tries to lure Edward G. Robinson into a life of crime after a scandalous dismissal from the police force. Despite the fact that the movie might not be the best, this is perhaps MacLane’s most likable role in a Bogart film. Playing “the thinking man’s gangster,” MacLane is able to elicit sympathy from both the film’s hero (Robinson) and the tough-guy gangster (Bogart) who tries so desperately to convince him that Robinson is a no good double dealer. If he’d only listened to Bogart! Why, Al, why? Definitely my favorite MacLane role on this list.

You can read my original post on the film here.

San Quentin – 1937

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MacLane plays prison guard Lieutenant Druggin who just wants to be the captain of the yard if not for Pat O’Brien’s meddling ways. MacLane’s Druggin wants hard-nosed justice. Prisoners should be put in their places, forcefully, the moment that they step out of line. O’Brien’s dashing prison captain believes in a much more subtle approach – respecting the prisoners as men in their own rights who deserve the benefit of the doubt. It’s a role that calls for the gruffest and sourest that MacLane has to offer, and he’s perfectly cast in the film.

You can read my original post on the film here.

High Sierra – 1941

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MacLane plays Jake, the right hand man to Donald MacBride who plays the ailing ringleader of Bogart’s robbery crew. The part is a bit smaller than the previous two in his Bogie filmography, but MacLane does well as he spends his time giving Bogart the suspicious eye while trying to muscle in on MacBride’s soon-to-be open position.

You can read my original post on the film here.

The Maltese Falcon – 1941

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MacLane plays Lieutenant of Detectives Dundy in a semi-friendly role to Bogart’s private detective, Sam Spade. Most of the film’s sparse comic relief comes from MacLane’s one-step-behind pursuit of Bogart, and both men seem to be enjoying their time on screen together as they appear to be on the verge of smiling at each other’s faux tough guy antics. Probably MacLane’s most well know Classic Film, his perfectly cast supporting role only adds to the iconic status of this movie.

You can read my original post on the film here.

All Through the Night – 1942

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MacLane plays Marty Callahan, one of Bogart’s rival gangsters that ends up coming to help when it’s time to punch some Nazis. MacLane’s best moments in this small role come when he has to deal with Bogart’s frazzled mother as she storms his nightclub looking for the murderer of a local baker. Again, not a huge role, but MacLane’s involvement is just another piece of this great ensemble cast that makes the film great.

You can read my original post on the film here.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre –1948

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MacLane plays McCormick, a less-than-reputable foreman who cheats Bogart and Tim Holt out of some very hard earned wages. It’s a chance for MacLane to be a bit more blowhard, and a bit less tough than how we usually see him in the rest of his Bogart filmography, and it all leads to a great great bar fight between MacLane, Bogart, and Holt that’s brutal, bloody, and incredibly satisfying when it comes to enacting revenge on the man who stole their paychecks!

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 Maltese Falcon

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Birth Name: The Maltese Falcon

Date of Birth:  October 18, 1941

Date of Death: STILL OUT THERE SOMEWHERE…LEADING MEN AND WOMEN DOWN A DANGEROUS ROAD OF GREED AND DESIRE…

Number of Films that The Maltese Falcon Made with Humphrey Bogart: 3

The Lowdown

I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.” – Kasper Gutman, The Maltese Falcon

To be fair, there are more than one of those little beauties out there. Sydney Greenstreet marred one with his pen knife for the film. Several extras were made of varying weights for backups. Bogart supposedly even dropped one and dented the tail. Several years ago, one came back into the spotlight when Leonardo DiCaprio purchased it at auction for a little over $300,000. (Nearly the original budget of the film.)

Oh, I knew that the Falcon made a quick cameo in 1945’s Conflict as a little nod to the reunion of Bogart and Greenstreet, but imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled across its presence in yet another film! A film that I’d seen at least a dozen times! A film that is in my Top 5 Bogie favorites! How could I have been so blind?

Two appearances would have been enough to warrant an entry into “The Usual Suspects,” but three makes its inauguration a must. So today, we welcome The Maltese Falcon into the pantheon of The Usual Suspects!

The Filmography

The Maltese Falcon – 1941

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This is where it all began. The world’s greatest MacGuffin brings together a small crew of the world’s most nefarious deal makers and a little known detective named Sam Spade.

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s the object of desire that men and women will kill for. It’s the treasure worth chasing all over the world until there’s not a cent left in your pockets.

In my dreams, I like to imagine that Kasper “The Fatman” Gutman, Joel Cairo, and Brigid O’Shaughnessy are all still out there, desperately scheming for one last chance to get the bird… Not far behind is Sam Spade, smirking and shaking his head. Will they never learn?

You can read my original post on the film here.

All Through the Night – 1942

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I mean . . . that can’t really be what I think it is lurking in the shadows next to Peter Lorre, can it?

I don’t know what to think here. I’ve seen this movie so often and I’ve never noticed this shadow before. The film only came out about three months after The Maltese Falcon. Is that enough time to have slipped in a cameo? Next to Peter Lorre, the man who played Joel Cairo no less?!?

I’ve googled, read, searched, and even listened to the director’s commentary from Vincent Sherman and NO ONE MENTIONS IT!

What are the odds? I know, I know. You’re going to tell me that it’s more than likely a massive coincidence. But here’s the thing about coincidences, see? When the Falcon’s involved – there ain’t no coincidences. There’s only desperate people with desperate minds. . .

You can read my original post on the film here.

Conflict – 1945

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Yes, he seems to have grown an inch or two and lost a little bit of weight, but supposedly that’s The Maltese Falcon looming large behind Bogart in this murder mystery reunion with Sydney Greenstreet. He’s got his talons deep into them, ya see? He ain’t gonna let go for nothin’!

You can read my original post on the film here!

*The Usual Suspects is an ongoing feature on the blog where we discuss some of Bogart’s more frequent collaborators. When I post, you’ll take it, and you’ll like it! You can read the other entries here.*

Michael Curtiz

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Birth Name: Mihaly Kertesz

Birth: December 24, 1888

Death: April 10, 1962

Number of Films Michael Curtiz Made with Humphrey Bogart: 8

The Lowdown

Ask the casual Classic Film fan about John Huston or Howard Hawks and more than likely they’ll be some recognition. More than likely, Bogart’s name will come up. Huston and Hawks – those are household names if you’re in the Classic Film realm.

Now mention Michael Curtiz. There still might be some recognition from the casual fans. CasablancaWhite Christmas? Maybe if they’re a little more literate about the early years of Hollywood’s “Golden Age,” they might mention Yankee Doodle Dandy.

But the Hungarian born director is so prolific throughout Hollywood history that it’s hard to imagine his name is rarely spoken outside of intros on TCM.

Curtiz crossed the boundary between the silent films and talkies. At 38 years old and with 64 films already under his belt, Curtiz was finally lured over to the U.S. by Harry Warner in 1926 where he would work with some of Hollywood’s greatest actors – Grant, Cagney, Davis, Flynn, Crosby, Kaye, Crawford, Bergman, Lorre, Greenstreet, Huston, Muni, DeHavilland, Sheridan, O’Brien, The Dead End Kids, Bacall, Bogart, etc… many household names.

As far as Bogart was concerned though, Curtiz was always on the shortlist of directors that were pre-approved. Yes, they fought a lot on set – settling character arcs and plot developments with shouting matches while the cast and crew waited, but there was great respect there as well.

I feel like Bogart and Curtiz complimented one another, making up for what the other lacked. Curtiz hailed from the European school of film where complex camera moves with lots of dollies were the norm. Bogart was from the states where Film Noir taught directors and actors to keep it simple, get to the point, and let the actors do the heavy lifting. Perhaps more importantly, Curtiz cut his teeth in silent films, and few actors beyond Bogart knew how do so much with simple gestures and subtle facial expressions.

Bogart and Peter Lorre reportedly loved pranking Curtiz on both Casablanca and Passage to Marseille. My favorite stories are from Passage where the two actors would stall scenes with long and jokey anecdotes until Curtiz would finally laugh and then they could carry on.

For a man who was alongside of Bogart throughout his entire career – from the early B roles to the biggest film of Bogart’s life, to the lighter role of Joseph in We’re No Angels, it’s about doggone time that Curtiz was placed into The Usual Suspects!

(And I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that Curtiz also directed Doctor X! The sorta prequel to Bogart’s only venture into sci-fi/horror, The Return of Doctor X!)

The Filmography

Black Legion – 1937

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Curtiz is listed as an “uncredited” co-director here alongside of Archie Mayo, so I’m not exactly sure what his contributions to the film were. Considered by many to be one of Bogart’s biggest hidden gems, Black Legion is a must-see for anyone who likes Bogart’s better character work. Occasionally there will be a movie that is very well made, and yet so gut-wrenchingly powerful that I just can’t imagine sitting through it again. Schindler’s List was this way for me. So was Mystic River. I would easily add Black Legion to that category. Loosely based on a true story, Legion took me places emotionally that I wasn’t used to going in a Bogart film.

Bogart plays a blue collar machinist who’s frustrations and paranoia take him to an ugly, ugly place, and Directors Mayo and Curtiz do a great job of squeezing every drop of tension from this one.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Marked Woman – 1937

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This is another “uncredited” director role for Curtiz alongside of Lloyd Bacon. 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. Bette Davis is the real star here, and she does a good job in, but the script leans heavily on extravagant melodrama. The ripped-from-the-headlines tone of the film is almost too clichéd in this day and age to have the same impact that it did in the 30’s and 40’s. There is plenty to appreciate in this film though, as the cast has been put together well, and it’s always fun to see Bogart and Davis looking so young in their roles. Davis is as bright-eyed and gorgeous as she ever would be, and Bogart has got the healthiest, most filled out physique that I ever remember seeing on him.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Kid Galahad – 1937

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This was the first full collaboration between Director Curtiz and Bogart, and it was a bit of a tepid start in my opinion. It’s a by-the-numbers Warner picture for the time it was made. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. It’s predictable, but fun. Robinson and Davis definitely save the day with their great portrayals, turning it into an enjoyable film. Bogart’s relegated to being the stock gangster character.

What sets the film apart though, is Director Curtiz’s ability to direct the the boxing scenes with explosive action and a skill that was surely honed in his silent days.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Angels with Dirty Faces – 1938

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At one time, this Curtiz directed film was one of the biggest gaps in my Bogart/Classic Film knowledge. Does it live up to the hype? For the first hour – no. Not that I thought it was bad, because it’s actually very good. James Cagney and Pat O’Brien are great. Plus, there’s a good dose of Ann Sheridan, which is always a good thing!

I just didn’t think it was as good as everyone had told me. Up until the last fifteen minutes of the film I was ready to rank this one just below The Roaring Twenties. The script is good, but not great. Director Michael Curtiz does a fine job, but it’s a far cry from Casablanca. And then there’s the fact that Bogart is hardly in the film despite high billing and lots of presence in the advertising.

Then I got to the ending . . . wow.

Without giving anything away (in case you’re also behind on seeing this film), Cagney’s final scene is so powerful that I was still reeling from it two days after watching the film. The movie certainly didn’t have to end the way it does. It could have gone with a more audience-friendly finish. Yet Curtiz, Cagney, and O’Brien take what was a good film and elevate it to great with just the last fifteen minutes.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Virginia City – 1940

Virginia City Poster

Virginia City is a fun, old-school western with great performances by all the actors (save for a VERY poorly cast Bogart), and plenty of tension to keep you hooked until the end. With a running time of slightly over two hours, Director Michael Curtiz probably could have shaved off about twenty minutes with a few less horse chases and saloon scenes, but that’s a small complaint to have in an otherwise good film.

I thought Curtiz did a great job of making both sides of the conflict over the gold seem sympathetic. Heck, I was even rooting at points for Bogart’s painfully-accented Hispanic outlaw!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Casablanca – 1942

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The film that cemented Bogart’s legacy! If this had been his final film, I have no doubt that he’d still be the icon that he is today!

I think a majority of the credit has to go to Director Curtiz. From beginning to end, the city of Casablanca feels like a fully realized world. The daytime scenes are crammed from one edge of the screen to other with bustling streets. The nighttime scenes are packed with diversely populated clubs. The city is supposed to be overflowing with people looking to escape the war and Director Curtiz nailed it. This film is bursting at the seams with background artists, minor roles cast to perfection, supporting roles with some of Hollywood’s greatest character actors, and a handful of main characters that are handled deftly and given the time that they each need to establish their moments in the story.

Why do I need to defend what some argue as Hollywood’s greatest film?!? You can read my original post on the film here.

Passage to Marseille – 1944

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This one’s a real showcase for Director Curtiz. Marseille is a film that exists almost entirely in a flashback. But not just a flashback – as it’s a flashback within a flashback, which I think even delves into another flashback! Just the way the multiple flashbacks are handled without confusion shows a director who’s storytelling craft is top notch.

The entire movie is said to be a slightly missed attempt at recreating the magic that was Casablanca, as so many of the cast and crew return from that movie including director, writer, composer, producer, and at least five other actors. Perhaps I’m far enough removed from the era, but I thought that my love for Casablanca only enhanced my enjoyment of this film. The story is much more action oriented, and it comes off as more of a prison escape movie rather than a war romance.

You can read my original post on the film here.

We’re No Angels – 1955

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The last of eight films between Director Curtiz and Bogart, Angels is subtle, dry, a bit goofy, and a wonderful movie for these two collaborators to go out on. In a story of three escaped convicts, Curtiz uses Bogart, Peter Ustinov, and Aldo Ray to underplay the jokes so well that this film can often near the line of “dark comedy,” although I don’t think it ever steps over.

It’s silly, wonderful fun in the best possible sense. Plus! You get to see Bogart in an apron! Come on! That makes it a must see in itself!

You can read my original post on the film here.

‘The Usual Suspects’ is an ongoing feature on the blog that highlights some of Bogart’s best collaborators. You can find the ever-growing list of names here.

Lloyd Bacon

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Birth Name: Lloyd Francis Bacon

Date of Birth: December 4, 1889

Date of Death: November 15, 1955

Number of Films that Lloyd Bacon Made with Humphrey Bogart: 7

The Lowdown

The son of an actor, Lloyd Bacon would follow in his father’s footsteps into vaudeville before moving on to act in silent films, and then finally directing some of Hollywood’s greatest legends on the big screen.

From all reports, Bacon was an incredibly capable director who could work well with actors, bring a film in on time, and stay within the allotted budget. From performing stunts, to acting on the stage, to being in front of and behind the camera, Bacon spent a life learning the craft of film making, and while he wasn’t known as a flashy or incredibly famous director, Warner Brothers saw him as more than able to handle a long string of films in many different genres.

Bacon’s work with Bogart alone saw films with gangsters, cowboys, lawyers, prisoners, monks, and navy seamen. No, none of the films they collaborated on are remembered as classics, but almost all of them hold up as a decent pictures in their own rights. Bogart was supposedly happy to work underneath him as a director, so that tells you a lot right there!

There is a line in the Sperber/Lax Bogart bio that says Bacon directed Bogart seven times before their final film Action in the North Atlantic. Researching on my own, I only have them working together seven times in total, so if anyone has any info on whether or not this was a mistake in the bio, let me know!

But today, let’s welcome Lloyd Bacon into The Usual Suspects!

The Filmography

Marked Woman – 1937

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This one’s really grown on me over time. Part of the that is a growing appreciation for some of the other actors in the film (Ben Welden, Bette Davis, Mayo Methot, etc.), part is the appreciation that I now have for Director Lloyd Bacon. Warner Brothers used Bacon for several “ripped from the headlines” films, including this one, and Bacon comes off as a good, straightforward, meat and potatoes director who gets the job done.

Loosely based on the fall of gangster Lucky Luciano, there is plenty to appreciate in this film. The cast has been put together well, the script is tight, and it’s always fun to see Bogart and Davis looking so young in their roles. Davis is as bright-eyed and gorgeous as she ever would be, and Bogart has got the healthiest and most filled out physique that I ever remember seeing on him.

You can read my original post on the film here.

San Quentin – 1937


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Almost all of the ingredients are here for a great film– great actors, capable director, great cinematographer, etc. – but the one thing lacking is an interesting script. Through no fault of Pat O’Brien, Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, or Joe Sawyer, there’s just not much excitement or drama to be had in this film. Everyone seems to be sleepwalking through their parts, especially O’Brien, who was more than capable of carrying a good role if he got one.

Perhaps it’s the fact that O’Brien’s Captain Stephen Jameson is just written too blandly to evoke any sympathy. His range of emotion shifts back and forth between mildly uncomfortable and slightly content. Perhaps it’s the fact that every time some real motivation for drama occurs, all the tension is quickly let out of the scene with a few lines of dialogue that wraps up any conflict before it takes off.

Bacon’s direction feels a little more loose here, especially in some of the final chase scenes that could have been tighter.

Am I being too hard on the film? Maybe. I’ll check it out again sometime, but it is a great showcase for regular Bogart collaborator, Joe Sawyer!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Racket Busters – 1938

Racket Busters Poster

Let me sum this one up for you quickly to save some time:

A brave man stands up to a gangster. The gangster starts hurting people. The brave man instantly caves and joins the gangster’s racket. One of the brave man’s friends dies. The brave man returns . . . a little too late in my opinion . . . and finally saves the day.

I thought this was the weakest collaboration out of all of work that Bacon did with Bogart. The main problems with this film are firmly rooted within the script. It’s pretty hard to root for a hero that abandons his friends until they start to get beat up and die. Maybe if they’d stopped short of actually killing George Brent’s friend and mentor played by George O’Shea – you know, maybe just put him in a coma – our sympathies might have held out.

There’s a reason this one is harder to find! You can read my original post on the film here.

The Oklahoma Kid – 1939

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If you’re any sort of regular reader here on the blog, you know that I’ve written about this one numerous times. Should Cagney and Bogart have played cowboys. No. Should we still enjoy the film? Yes! It’s actually not half bad! Add into it that Cagney and Bogart have an awesome fight scene at the end, and it’s well worth your time! You even forgive the fact that it’s pretty obvious when the two icons switch places with their stunt doubles.

This film will show you two things about Director Bacon. First – he could helm a Western pic with great skill. Second – his work as a stuntman really shines through in his directing here!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Invisible Stripes – 1939

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The cast of George Raft, William Holden, Jane Bryan, Flora Robson, and Bogart is are a very good ensemble, and all the character relationships really crackle – especially Raft and Robson who give us most of the heart in this film. Director Bacon handles them so well, especially in the quieter, character building moments of love and loss with Raft’s family. Raft’s final line to Robson is so subtly done that I almost missed it, even though it’s an incredibly heart wrenching moment.

I can see why this movie might not have gotten the most glowing reviews. The story of an ex-con trying to go straight had been done so many times before this that it must have felt like old cliché. Bogart does his absolute best with the role that he’s given, but he’s underused, and a young William Holden still seems a little green as it’s only his fourth film. All that aside though, the film is entirely watchable and keeps the drama and action chugging along at a pace that held my interest even on multiple viewings.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Brother Orchid – 1940

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This one’s a comedy crime drama that can’t quite seem to decide whether it wants to be more comedy or more lighthearted drama. While you don’t get a great Bogart fix, Director Bacon does get a lot out of Edward G. Robinson and the wonderful Ann Sothern.

The standout of the film for me, Sothern has a wonderful moment in the film during a scene after she hangs up on a phone call with Robinson. She slowly sits back in her seat, lightly biting her bottom lip. Director Bacon and Sothern do a great job with that small moment of satisfaction.

Plus, it’s the only movie, out of the five that they made together, that neither Robinson nor Bogart dies!  You can check out my original post on the film here.

Action in the North Atlantic – 1943

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My favorite film from their collaboration, this one is probably most notable for Bacon as he was dismissed with a quarter of the filming left due to the fact that he couldn’t agree on a new contract with Warner Bros. He was replaced by Byron Haskin, but you don’t notice any obvious shift in the final act.

Although it could easily be considered a WWII propaganda film, Action in the North Atlantic does a fine job of transcending the clichéd patriotism that we might expect from a film like this, and gives us a lot more character depth and nuance than most propaganda films can muster.

Bacon makes some bold choices in direction – especially in regards to some longer scenes on the German U-boat where the viewer can go several minutes only hearing German. There is clearly a lot of trust on the part of Director Bacon that we’ll be able to understand the gist of the scenes even though no English is used, and it works well. The scenes effectively elevate the tension as the viewer begins to understand a little German shorthand for what’s going on with the Nazi sailors.

Again, attributing all the directorial choices to Bacon may not be a safe bet as he was replaced by Haskins, but since he directed a majority of the film, I’ll give Bacon as much due as I can!

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.*

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.*

Everett Sloane

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Birth Name: Everett H. Sloane

Date of Birth: October 1, 1909

Date of Death: August 6, 1965

Number of Films Everett Sloane Made with Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Lowdown

It was a recent rewatching of The Enforcer and Sirocco that really brought Sloane to my attention for The Usual Suspects. They were the only two films that he shared with Bogart, and the roles are so diametrically opposite from one another that it gave me a whole new respect for the actor who first appeared in a little known film called Citizen Kane.

Sloane started his career at age 7 on the stage before receiving some tough reviews as a young adult and retiring early to become a Wall Street runner. Yet, as fate would have it, Sloane headed back into performing after the stock market crashed and he eventually hooked up with another radio personality named Orson Welles.

Welles hired Sloane for his radio company and then went on to cast him in what were probably Sloane’s two most well known films – Citizen Kane and The Lady from Shanghai.

Sloane’s personal filmography is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and combined with his stage work, radio broadcasts, and later television appearances, it all makes for a pretty incredible resume despite the fact that his life was cut short when he committed suicide at 55 after struggling with the fact that he was going blind.

It leaves all of us to wonder what great work might have been left in his life if he’d sought help, but there is still so much to love about the work he left behind! So let me happily induct Everett Sloane into The Usual Suspects!

The Filmography

The Enforcer – 1951

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Sloane plays Albert Mendoza, the criminal mastermind behind a ring of hit men-for-hire. It makes me greatly ashamed that I saw this one before I saw Sirocco and didn’t even mention Sloane in my original write up as I hadn’t yet seen his full range. In a Third Man-esque twist, we don’t even get to see the much talked about gangster until the last act of the film, leaving us to wonder just what this dastardly n’er-do-well looks like. We hear about him. We see the effect that he has on his sniveling subordinates. But it’s not until the end that we get to see just how cruel and Machiavellian he can be.

Sloane’s first big scene with Ted de Corsia sets the stage for his true madness as he happily takes an incredible beating from de Corsia just to see if the thug is worth hiring for a new criminal enterprise. Only minutes later, when we get to see Sloane’s big comeuppance with Bogart, you’ll be surprised that his devious mug wasn’t lurking in the background of the film the entire time.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Sirocco – 1951

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Again, I feel terribly remiss to have left Sloane out of the original post on Sirocco as I think I must have let Lee J. Cobb and Bogart overshadow his performance. But Sloane plays French General LaSalle, commanding officer to Lee J. Cobb, who is tasked with tracking down the local black market businessmen who are helping Syrian insurgents thwart the French occupation of Sirocco.

Having just rewatched the film again, I can say that Sloane does wonderfully as the over-taxed, and sometimes iron willed, French officer, and it’s his pressure on Cobb’s subordinate officer that gives the final act its true stakes.

I am off to correct the first two posts now, but you can read my original post on this film here.

*The Usual Suspects is an ongoing feature at the Bogie Film Blog where we dive a tad bit deeper into some of Bogart’s most recurring collaborators. You can find the rest of the posts here.*

S. Z. Sakall

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Birth Name: Gerő Jenő

Date of Birth: February 2, 1883

Date of Death: February 12, 1955

Number of Films S. Z. Sakall Made with Humphrey Bogart: 4

The Lowdown

Born in Hungary, Sakall began using the pseudonym Szőke Szakáll during the beginning of his career in Budapest. Over his lifetime, he went from being credited asS. K. Sakall to S. Z. Sakall before occasionally being billed as S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall in some of his final films. (Jack Warner reportedly dubbed Sakall “Cuddles” for his rotund cuteness, although the actor apparently never cared for the nickname.) Making over 40 films in Europe and appearing in countless theatrical productions before heading to America to become a renowned character actor, it is probably his role as “Carl the waiter” in Casablanca that Sakall is most famous for.

To be clear, Sakall really only shared three films with Bogart face-to-face. In one of those three, they don’t even make eye contact, let alone speak. In the fourth film, Bogart was merely a voice cameo during a scene that Sakall was not even in. The fact that Sakall was such a proficient contract player makes it a little more surprising that they didn’t work together more often. But their filmographies share four films, and that’s more than enough to induct Sakall into The Ususal Suspects! He talent deserves every accolade offered!

The Filmography

Casablanca – 1942

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Sakall, in what many consider his most famous role, plays Carl, the host/waiter in Rick’s café. Sakall is so wonderfully charming here that there probably aren’t enough adjectives to cover it – lovable, solid, hilarious, and incredibly talented are just a few that I’d start with. The scene where he watches Rick help the young couple win at roulette is enough to make you want to hug him. I honestly can’t imagine another actor filling the role here as well. This part destined for Sakall. Add to the fact that he was one of the many, many foreign actors within a film that makes a strong stand against the German occupation of, well . . . everywhere that’s not Germany, and you have an added oomph to the film that’s hard to qualify.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Thank Your Lucky Stars – 1943

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Sakall plays Dr. Schlenna, a high strung Hollywood producer that’s helping to put on a star studded variety show to support the war effort. Again, Sakall is cast perfectly – and in one of the funniest scene in the film, Sakall’s frustrated producer has to put a cameo-making Humphrey Bogart in his place. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Bogart knew how to cameo. Just look at the pic above. Five o’clock shadow, fedora, and pinstriped suit – because he was a gangster in real life too, right? But in a rare moment of role reversal, the joke here is that Sakall gets to take a moment to put a demanding and coddled Bogart in his place because he just doesn’t have time for prima donna actors!

Plus, Sakall gets to mug with an elephant. That’s worth it alone, right?

You can read my original post on the film here.

Two Guys from Milwaukee – 1946

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Sakall plays right hand man Count Oswald to Dennis Morgan’s love struck Balkan prince. As always, Sakall’s presence is another testament to how well Classic Hollywood’s studio system worked when it came to producing strong supporting character actors. Sakall’s scene with little Peggy as she demands the true dirt behind fairy tale princesses is especially fun. Unfortunately, Bogart’s role here is a jokey cameo after the Balkan prince gets to meet his lifelong crush, Lauren Bacall, on a train. But, hey! There’s Sakall right behind Bogart as he sits down!

You can read my original post on the film here.

Never Say Goodbye – 1946

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Sakall plays restaurant owner Luigi alongside of the philandering artist played by Errol Flynn. Sakall, as usual, does a wonderful job with his ‘flustered foreigner’ role here, and his interrogation scene with the police is one of the funniest scenes from the film. This is the one film Bogart and Sakall share with no scenes whatsoever as Bogart merely makes a voice-over cameo when Flynn dresses up as a gangster and does a tough guy accent, with Bogart’s real voice dubbed in for one line over top.

You can read my original post on the film here.

*The Usual Suspects is an ongoing series of posts about some of Bogart’s more regular collaborators.  You can check out other entries in the series here.*

Zero Mostel

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Birth Name: Samuel Joel Mostel

Birth: February 28, 1915

Death: September 8, 1977

Number of Films Zero Mostel Made with Humphrey Bogart: 2

The Lowdown

Nicknamed “Zero” for his poor performance in grade school, Mostel was born in Brooklyn, NY, moved to a Connecticut farm with his family, and eventually made his way back to the big city for what should have been a smooth and successful career on stage and in film.

Beginning as a popular nightclub act, a radio star, and a budding TV actor, Mostel rose to fame for his impeccable timing, biting sense of humor, and incredible physicality. But much like the namesake for this blog, Mostel’s political beliefs became a problem for his career after testifying for the House Un-American Activities Committee. Blacklisted for much of the 50’s, Mostel would once again rise to prominence on stage, one crowd at a time, until his eventual return to the big screen for such classics as A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and The Producers.

Mostel’s work with Bogart was certainly a step out from his usual comedic performances. While not playing completely straight in either film, his characters’ physical, mental, and moral deficiencies sometimes come off as more sympathetic than comical.

I’ve never met a man or woman who wasn’t a fan of at least one of Mostel’s films, and I’d consider both of his Bogart collaborations personal favorites. So without further ado, let’s welcome Zero Mostel into the pantheon of The Usual Suspects!

The Filmography

The Enforcer – 1951

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Mostel plays “Big Babe” Lazick, a bumbling hitman that Bogart’s District Attorney Martin Ferguson has to question in order to find an elusive gangster.

Mostel is wonderful playing around with all the skills and talents that made him a great comedic actor, but here, those attributes are played straight, making him look pathetic and in over his head. From his first scene where he’s being carried out of a church by the cops, to his tension filled first meeting with the crew of hitmen who hire him, Mostel is perfect in the role of a criminal flunky who just doesn’t have the gusto to finish a job.

Mostel and Bogart get a great interrogation scene together, and it’s a shame they only share two films. Mostel’s wimpy loser next to Bogart’s confident tough guy makes a great pairing.

You can read my original post on the film here.

Sirocco – 1951

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Mostel plays Balukjiann, a local businessman who’s rounded up with Bogart’s black market gun runner when the French Army tries to locate Syrian sympathizers during a 1925 insurgency. Bogart plays it cool. Mostel jumps readily to the other side.

It’s not as memorable of a role as Mostel had in The Enforcer, as his character serves more of a “yes man” role next to Lee J. Cobb and Everett Sloane’s French officers, but I’m always fine with an overqualified actor playing a smaller part in a film.

No big laughs to be had from Mostel here, but he does add just a touch of comedic relief to an often dark plot – and the film is far more solid than the reviews let on. It’s worth checking out.

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.*