My A-Z of Humphrey Bogart

A year ago I reviewed The Big Sleep, one of my favourite Bogart films, when it was re-released by the BFI. More recently I wrote about how my teenage fascination with the Bogart/Bacall romance was my entry into the world of noir.

My five-year-old nephew is currently learning the alphabet, so I thought I would honour cinema’s greatest star, with an A-Z of Humphrey Bogart. Compliments of the season to Bogie fans everywhere!

Dorothy Malone, Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep

Where better to begin than the Acme Book Shop, scene of Philip Marlowe’s rainy afternoon dalliance in The Big Sleep. Bibliophile Dorothy Malone obviously knows the difference between a Ben-Hur 1860 and an old-fashioned chat-up line.

Lauren Bacall, Bogie’s fourth wife, was born Betty Joan Perske on 16 September 1924. Bogart referred to his glamorous young spouse simply as “Baby”.

Casablanca, which premiered on 26 November 1942, is the Hamlet of Bogart movies in terms of quotability, though the famous misquote “Play it again, Sam” is popular, too. Directed by Michael Curtiz, it earned Bogie his first Oscar nomination.

DeForest, Bogie’s middle name, testifies to his blue-blood lineage. His father, Dr Belmont DeForest Bogart, was of Dutch descent. Luckily, Bogart Senior’s medical career survived an early run-in with a horse-drawn ambulance that injured his legs and ribs.

Effie Perine (played by Lee Patrick) ushers the duplicitous “Miss Wonderly” (Mary Astor) into detective Sam Spade’s office at the beginning of in The Maltese Falcon. “Shoo her in, Effie, Darling. Shoo her in.” She reprised the role in her final film, a little-known sequel The Black Bird (1975).

Lee Patrick in The Maltese Falcon 1941

Forest Lawn is where Bogart’s ashes were interred, following his funeral on 17 January 1957. In her autobiography, By Myself, Bacall notes that he’d “always loved the idea of a Viking funeral”. Sadly, scattering his ashes in the ocean wasn’t possible in those days.

Greer Garson presented Bogart with his only best actor Oscar for his role as Charlie Allnut in The African Queen in 1952.

Here’s looking at you, kid” is the line near the end of Casablanca that has Ingrid Bergman welling up — along with fans of bittersweet goodbyes.

I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.” In a Lonely Place contains one of Bogart’s finest performances as screenwriter Dixon Steele, and provides a quote that encapsulates the essence of film noir.

Agent and producer Sam Jaffe represented Bogart and his regular co-star Peter Lorre. Bogie once offered this glowing testimony to the man whose straight-talking he greatly admired: “I trust Sam more than anyone else in the world.”

Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh photographed Bogart in 1946 in a contemplative smoking pose that retains its mystique — despite Bogie’s painful death from cancer.

Leslie Bogart, named after her dad’s friend and mentor Leslie Howard, was born on 23 August 1952. Bacall recalls that the proud father “looked at Leslie as if she were a fragile flower”.

Malabar Farm in Ohio, was the venue for Bogart and Bacall’s wedding on 21 May 1945. It was the home of Bogie’s friend, author Louis Bromfield.

Nerves, an unsuccessful 1924 play, produced at New York’s Comedy Theatre, starred Bogie and his future wife Mary Philips. It closed after 16 performances.

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world . . .” One of Casablanca’s many memorable lines still strikes a chord with morose and half-cut ex-lovers everywhere.

The Petrified Forest gave Bogie his first major role, as glowering gangster Duke Mantee in Robert E Sherwood’s play. Thanks to co-star Leslie Howard’s intervention he was also cast in Archie Mayo’s film version the following year.

The erratic behaviour of Bogart’s Lt Cmdr Philip Francis Queeg led his crew into troubled waters in The Caine Mutiny. Seaman Bogart’s naval career aboard SS Leviathan may have given him that trademark scar and lisp.

Rick’s Café Américain in Casablanca is the perfect place to track down an exit visa, enjoy a chorus of “As Time Goes By” or reflect on a failed love affair. Closer to home, Bogart held forth from his booth at Romanoff’s on North Rodeo Drive.

Rick's Café Américain, Casablanca

Santana was Bogart’s pride and joy, a 54ft yawl that was previously owned by actor Dick Powell. Bacall wrote “If ever I had a woman to be jealous of, she was the Santana.” A previous Bogart vessel, the cabin cruiser Sluggy, dated from his tempestuous third marriage to Mayo Methot.

To Have and Have Not (1944) marked the beginning of the Bogart/Bacall partnership — both on- and off-screen. Legend has it that director Howard Hawks had bet author Ernest Hemingway that he could make a good film out of his worst novel . . .

Up the River, released in October 1930, was Bogie’s feature debut in a film The New York Times described as “violently funny”. John Ford directed a cast that also featured Spencer Tracy and Claire Luce.

Peter Viertel was an uncredited writer on both The African Queen and Beat the Devil and an adopted member of the Rat Pack. White Hunter Black Heart, his fictionalised account of working with director John Huston in Africa, was later filmed by Clint Eastwood.

Warner Bros. was Bogart’s home studio for most of the 30s and 40s, where he enjoyed a combative relationship with Head of Production Jack L Warner. His first role there was in Big City Blues (1932), in which he was 10th billed.

The Return of Doctor X, in which Bogie plays Dr Maurice Xavier, is one of his more obscure outings from the late 30s. Director Vincent Sherman later made the 1980 biopic Bogie, with Kevin O’Connor in the title role.

You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow.” Bogart and Bacall define on-screen chemistry in To Have and Have Not.

S Z Sakall aka “Cuddles” Sakall was a Hungarian-born character best-known for playing Rick’s avuncular head waiter, Carl, in Casablanca. He was also seen opposite Bogie in the star-studded musical fundraiser Thank Your Lucky Stars.

Bogart fans should check out the official site here.

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