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Born right here in NYC at the very cusp of the Fin de Siecle, Christmas Day 1899, Humphrey DeForest Bogart came from a moneyed family as the scion of an early feminist suffragette. Intended to be brought up in “proper society”, he blew his shot at Yale by tossing the headmaster into a local pond – his penchant for two fisted belligerence and a taste for strong, even “difficult” women present from an early age. “I wouldn’t give you two cents for a dame without a temper,” he once said…

Joining the Navy at the height of the Great War, he came back from his experience “a liberal who hated pretensions, phonies, and snobs, defying both conventional behavior and authority”…very much a man after my own heart.

Breaking into film in a recurring, even typecast role as a gangster of one sort or another (supposedly due to a resemblance to folk hero gangster John Dillinger, but I’m not seeing it), he worked that niche for 6 years and dozens of films before landing the role that made him a star: Sam Spade in John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon.

Following up with the much beloved Casablanca, it was his films with a certain someone that really cemented his position as a true Hollywood icon: To Have and Have Not. The Big Sleep. Dark Passage. Key Largo.

It took him three bad marriages (the last of whom burned down their house, went after him with a knife and slit her own wrists several times) before he finally met his match in the sultry Lauren Bacall, who was both his longest and final spouse…and less than half his age. They met on the set of To Have and Have Not, and the heat carried offscreen, with the two remaining a couple through his death 12 years on.

Always open about his issues with directors, actors and producers so often left on a pedestal, he both stood up rather openly against McCarthy’s blacklist that was hitting so many in Hollywood at the time and even started his own production company (Santana productions), the working outside the system nature of which likely occasioned his run of far lesser (if occasionally much feted) final films, of which In A Lonely Place is easily the strongest contender.

Further the man who coined the term “the Rat Pack” and dubbed the “PR director” of its earliest iteration (which included Bogie, Bacall, Sinatra and Judy Garland and her husband, among others), join us as we talk one of the true legends of the studio era, the inimitable Humphrey Bogart!

Week 74: We’ll Always Have Paris – the films of Humphrey Bogart


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