Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall: From To Have and Have Not to Key Largo
Humphrey Bogart (born on Christmas Day 1899, in New York City) is Turner Classic Movies’ first “Summer Under the Stars” star on Thursday, Aug. 1. TCM will be showing several Bogart movies not made at Warner Bros., e.g., 20th Century Fox’s The Left Hand of God and Columbia’s In a Lonely Place, but nothing that the cable network hasn’t presented before. In other words, don’t expect anything along the lines of the 1934 crime drama Midnight or the 1931 Western A Holy Terror (assuming these two movies still exist). Now, the good news: No Casablanca – which was shown on Tuesday, as part of TCM’s Paul Henreid movie series.
Of TCM’s Humphrey Bogart movies I’ve seen, my favorite is probably John Huston’s Key Largo (1948), a suspense drama about a group of people, including several armed gangsters, stuck inside a Florida Keys hotel while a storm rages outside. Adapted by Huston and future director Richard Brooks (Elmer Gantry, In Cold Blood) from a play by Maxwell Anderson, Key Largo works chiefly because of its tight screenplay, moody black-and-white cinematography (Metropolis’ venerable Karl Freund, whose credits went back to the early 1910s), and a handful of superb performances – Bogart’s not among them.
In fact, Key Largo‘s Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall scenes are the weakest in the film. But once Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor, and Thomas Gomez take center stage, Key Largo is as gripping as a movie can be. Trevor, flawless as a (deceptively) pathetic alcoholic, deservedly won that year’s Best Supporting Actress Academy Award; Robinson, absurdly, wasn’t even nominated.
‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’
John Huston’s other 1948 release, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, was a box office disappointment but a critical hit. A dark tale of greed and death based on a novel by B. Traven, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre presents Humphrey Bogart in an unlikely light: a man eventually consumed by gold lust. Bogart rises to the occasion at times, while at others his self-destructive adventurer comes across as little more than a, however memorable, showy performance.
More interesting is a surprisingly effective Tim Holt, a B Western hero and son of late ’20s/early ’30s star Jack Holt, who plays one of three Americans – Walter Huston, the director’s father, is the third one – looking for gold in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains. Despite Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Tim Holt was never to become a real movie star – and that was Hollywood’s (and moviegoers’) loss.
A curiosity: For The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Walter Huston became the first actor to win an Academy Award in a movie directed by his son (or daughter, for that matter). Thirty-seven years later, Anjelica Huston would become the first performer to win an Oscar in a movie directed by his/her father (or mother): John Huston’s Prizzi’s Honor.
Also worth noting is that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre lost the Best Picture Oscar to a British import, Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, but the film did earn John Huston the Best Director statuette. And don’t miss Huston and Ann Sheridan in cameos, and Robert Blake as a little kid.
More Humphrey Bogart movies
Henry Hathaway’s To Have and Have Not (1945) introduced Lauren Bacall to movie audiences, thus holding a special place in Hollywood history – having said that, in my view Michael Curtiz’s 1950 version, The Breaking Point, is far superior. John Huston’s Beat the Devil (1954) is a The Maltese Falcon spoof of sorts, with a bizarre screenplay by Huston and Truman Capote based on Claud Cockburn a.k.a. James Helvick’s novel. Of chief interest is the film’s cast, which includes a curious assortment of players: besides a much-aged Humphrey Bogart, also featured are a blonde Jennifer Jones, a brunette Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, and an outstanding Edward Underdown.
Despite its dramatic shortcomings, including a cowardly ending, the Oscar-nominated The Caine Mutiny (1954) offers what is probably Humphrey Bogart’s most effective performance – as a mentally disturbed military captain, no less. As for Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep (1946), Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s second pairing, it is all atmosphere and no sense. Focus your attention on Sid Hickox’s cinematography and let the Raymond Chandler plot (adaptation credited to William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman) wash over you.
‘The Maltese Falcon’ & ‘High Sierra’
Besides 1948, 1941 was another great year for Humphrey Bogart – one also featuring a movie with the word “Sierra” in the title. Indeed, that was when Bogart became a major star thanks to Raoul Walsh’s High Sierra and John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon. In the former, Bogart plays an ex-con who falls in love with top-billed Ida Lupino – though both are outacted by ingénue-with-a-heart-of-tin Joan Leslie. In the latter, Bogart plays Dashiell Hammett’s private detective Sam Spade, trying to discover the fate of the titular object; along the way, he is outacted by just about every other cast member, from Mary Astor’s is-she-for-real dame-in-distress to Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nominee Sydney Greenstreet.
John Huston’s version of The Maltese Falcon is considered one of the seminal movies of the ’40s; the Humphrey Bogart quote “The stuff that dreams are made of” is surely one reason for that widespread admiration. Personally, I much prefer the 1931 version, directed by Roy Del Ruth, and starring a smooth Ricardo Cortez as the cynical gumshoe. Admittedly, borrowing lighting elements from French and German movies and from Hollywood silents, veteran Arthur Edeson’s black-and-white cinematography in the 1941 film is simply masterful, helping to make The Maltese Falcon the first official American film noir. (The 1936 Bette Davis version of the story, Satan Met a Lady, is a silly mess.)
The 1956 Columbia release The Harder They Fall, a boxing drama directed by Mark Robson, was Humphrey Bogart’s last movie. He died of cancer at age 57 on January 14, 1957, in the Los Angeles area.
Of note: In a Lonely Place, now a noir classic but a box office disappointment upon its release, has music by George Antheil, who, along with Hedy Lamarr, patented a particular frequency hopping concept.
Humphrey Bogart movies: TCM schedule (PT) on August 1, 2013
3:00 AM BOGART: THE UNTOLD STORY (1996). Director: Chris Hunt. Cast: Stephen Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Robert Sklar, Rose Hobart, Gloria Stuart. Color. 46 min.
4:00 AM HIGH SIERRA (1941). Director: Raoul Walsh. Cast: Ida Lupino, Humphrey Bogart, Alan Curtis, Arthur Kennedy, Joan Leslie, Henry Hull, Henry Travers, Jerome Cowan, Minna Gombell, Barton MacLane, Elisabeth Risdon, Cornel Wilde, Donald MacBride, Paul Harvey, Isabel Jewell, Willie Best, Spencer Charters, George Meeker, John Eldredge, Robert Strange, Sam Hayes, Louis Jean Heydt, Robert Emmett Keane, Lee Phelps, Maris Wrixon. Black and white. 100 min.
6:00 AM THE MALTESE FALCON (1941). Director: John Huston. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook Jr, Lee Patrick, Barton MacLane, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan, James Burke, Murray Alper, John Hamilton, Charles Drake, William Hopper, Creighton Hale, Walter Huston, Hank Mann. Black and white. 100 min.
7:45 AM TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944). Director: Howard Hawks. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan. Black and white. 100 min.
9:30 AM THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948). Director: John Huston. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt, Bruce Bennett, Barton MacLane, Alfonso Bedoya, Arturo Soto Rangel, Margarito Luna, Robert Blake, Ann Sheridan, Jack Holt, John Huston, Jay Silverheels. Black and white. 126 min.
1:15 PM BEAT THE DEVIL (1953). Director: John Huston. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Edward Underdown, Ivor Barnard, Bernard Lee, Marco Tulli, Saro Urzi, Aldo Silvani, Giulio Donnini, Juan de Landa. Black and white. 90 min.
3:00 PM IN A LONELY PLACE (1950). Director: Nicholas Ray. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy. Black and white. 93 min.
5:00 PM THE BIG SLEEP (1946). Director: Howard Hawks. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, Peggy Knudsen, Regis Toomey, Charles Waldron, Bob Steele, Elisha Cook Jr., Louis Jean Heydt, Theodore von Eltz, Tommy Rafferty. Black and white. 114 min.
7:00 PM KEY LARGO (1948). Director: John Huston. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Thomas Gomez, Harry Lewis, Marc Lawrence, John Rodney, Dan Seymour, William Haade, Monte Blue, Pat Flaherty, John Litel, Jay Silverheels. Black and white. 101 min.
9:00 PM THE CAINE MUTINY (1954). Director: Edward Dmytryk. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, Robert Francis, Tom Tully, May Wynn, E.G. Marshall, Arthur Franz, Lee Marvin, Warner Anderson, Claude Akins, Katherine Warren, Jerry Paris, Steve Brodie, James Best, Whit Bissell, Robert Bray, Don Dubbins, Barry Norton. Color. 125 mins. Letterbox Format.
11:15 PM THE LEFT HAND OF GOD (1955). Director: Edward Dmytryk. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gene Tierney, Lee J. Cobb, Agnes Moorehead, E.G. Marshall, Jean Porter, Carl Benton Reid, Victor Sen Yung, Philip Ahn, Benson Fong. Color. 87 min.
1:00 AM THE HARDER THEY FALL (1956). Director: Mark Robson. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling, Max Baer, Jersey Joe Walcott, Mike Lane, Edward Andrews, Harold J. Stone, Carlos Montalbán, Nehemiah Persoff, Jack Albertson, Val Avery, Tommy Garland. Black and white. 109 mins. Letterbox Format.
Humphrey Bogart movie schedule via the TCM website. Humphrey Bogart The Maltese Falcon publicity shot: Warner Bros.
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall movie To Have and Have Not image: Warner Bros.