Humphrey Bogart, Old Hollywood’s most revered tough guy, is Turner Classic Movies’ Star of the Day this Wednesday as TCM continues its “Summer Under the Stars” film series. (See further below TCM’s Humphrey Bogart Movie Schedule.)
My favorite tough guy – by far – is Edward G. Robinson. The star of Little Caesar, The Sea Wolf, House of Strangers, Key Largo, etc. is followed by James Cagney – when in psycho mode – and a whole bunch of tough dames, among them Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Greer, Ann Sheridan, and Ida Lupino. Bogart isn’t on my list. In the aforementioned Key Largo, for instance, he is all but eviscerated by Robinson’s charisma.
TCM is currently showing John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon (1941), officially Hollywood’s first film noir and one of the most widely admired classics of the studio era. Needless to say, I’m at odds with the general consensus. I much prefer Roy Del Ruth’s less atmospheric but more entertaining 1931 version starring an infinitely more alluring Sam Spade: Ricardo Cortez. Admittedly, some of the supporting cast of the 1941 version is more effective: Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre vs. Bebe Daniels, Dudley Digges, Otto Matieson.
Zoltan Korda’s Sahara (1943) is a watchable World War II drama, enhanced by Rudolph Maté’s striking black-and-white cinematography – though the reason for Jay Carrol Naish’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination remains a mystery to me.
Beat the Devil (1954) is another John Huston-Humphrey Bogart collaboration along the lines of The Maltese Falcon, but in a lighter vein. This one, however, was poorly received by critics and performed just as poorly at the box office. Bogart, looking very tired, is all but obliterated by the supporting cast, which includes Jennifer Jones as a pathological liar in a blond wig, Gina Lollobrigida in her first post-stardom English-language film, Robert Morley, Bernard Lee, Peter Lorre, and the excellent Edward Underdown. Huston co-wrote the screenplay with, of all people, Truman Capote.
The Caine Mutiny (1954) was directed by former Hollywood Ten member Edward Dmytryk, the only one in that group who was able to resume his career after agreeing to denounce his colleagues to the House Un-American Activities Committee. Though hardly a good film, the Oscar-nominated The Caine Mutiny is one of the director’s better efforts of his post-Hollywood Ten career; that’s chiefly because of Bogart’s performance as the tyrannical, paranoid Captain Queeg, whose men decide to rebel in the last days of World War II. Unfortunately, things get twisted around later on as Dmytryk and screenwriter Stanley Roberts make sure we understand that military leaders, however psychotic, shouldn’t really be challenged.
I haven’t watched Tokyo Joe (1949), but the setting – post-World War II Japan – makes it sound interesting.
Jennifer Jones, Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Beat the Devil
Schedule (ET) and synopses from the TCM website:
6:00 AM BOGART: THE UNTOLD STORY (1996) Stephen Bogart hosts this one-hour special on the life and career of his legendary father, Humphrey Bogart. Director: Chris Hunt. Cast: Stephen Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Robert Sklar. Color. 46 min.
7:00 AM BULLETS OR BALLOTS (1936) A cop goes undercover to crack an influential crime ring. Director: William Keighley. Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Blondell, Barton MacLane. Black and white. 82 min.
8:30 AM SAN QUENTIN (1937) A convict’s sister falls for the captain of the prison guards. Director: Lloyd Bacon. Cast: Pat O’Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan. Black and white. 70 min.
11:00 AM TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944) A skipper-for-hire’s romance with a beautiful drifter is complicated by his growing involvement with the French resistance. Director: Howard Hawks. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall. Black and white. 100 min.
12:45 PM THE BIG SLEEP (1946) Private eye Philip Marlowe investigates a society girl’s involvement in the murder of a pornographer. Director: Howard Hawks. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely. Black and white. 114 min.
2:45 PM HIGH SIERRA (1941) An aging ex-con sets out to pull one more big heist. Director: Raoul Walsh. Cast: Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Alan Curtis. Black and white. 100 min.
4:30 PM THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940) Truck driving brothers are framed for murder by a lady psycho. Director: Raoul Walsh. Cast: George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino. Black and white. 95 min.
6:15 PM IN A LONELY PLACE (1950) An aspiring actress begins to suspect that her temperamental boyfriend is a murderer. Director: Nicholas Ray. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy. Black and white. 93 min.
8:00 PM THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade gets caught up in the murderous search for a priceless statue. Director: John Huston. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George. Black and white. 101 min.
10:00 PM SAHARA (1943) An international platoon fights off Nazis in World War II Africa. Director: Zoltan Korda. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, J. Carrol Naish. Black and white. 98 min.
12:00 AM BEAT THE DEVIL (1954) A group of con artists stake their claim on a bogus uranium mine. Director: John Huston. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida. Black and white. 90 min.
2:00 AM THE CAINE MUTINY (1954) Naval officers begin to suspect their captain of insanity. Director: Edward Dmytryk. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson. Color. 125 min. Letterbox Format.
Humphrey Bogart image via Doctor Macro.