A list of 10 (or so) movies starring Humphrey Bogart. Enjoy!
When I wrote the post on The Purple Taxi I mentioned doing other related movie lists. The first one I had in mind was a list of Humphrey Bogart movies and since I decided to use a shot from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, my favourite Bogart movie, for this month’s header image I decided it was time to post the list of movies. I limited the list to 10 films and many people are already well familiar with these pictures but I’m writing the list as if the reader has never seen any of them before.
1. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
I love old movies so I can love films that others might find a little corny and/or wooden. You do not have to love old movies to appreciate this film though. The performances are great and it’s a great tale of human folly. This isn’t just my favourite Humphrey Bogart film it’s one of my favourite’s full stop. – Only downside to it is the “We have no stinking badges” scene.
2. The African Queen
This is another John Huston film. I haven’t seen it in a while – I’ll have to dig it out again. I was a child when I first watched this and I remember at the start of the film I was thinking why would you make a story about two old people – but there is a surprising chemistry between Katharine Hepburn’s straight-laced and headstrong missionary character and Bogart’s no-laces alcoholic riverboat captain character, and even as child I found myself charmed and swept up in the unfolding adventure.
Looking at that clip I can’t understand why I thought they were old.
The movies is set in Africa at the start of WWI and the pair are going to do their bit to fight the enemy. It’s a bit half-baked but it’s such a fun journey you’ll happily follow along.
OK, I watched this again last night. It is a little bit racist I think. I’m not sure because on the one hand I think it’s making the point that neither the missionary or the Germans have any business being there, and it may just be showing a culture clash. That was how I was reading it until the scene where they are shooting at the boat and then I thought maybe it’s a bit racist… It’s an unfortunate thing about old movies they often include some racism and they are almost always sexist against women. As a woman I don’t mind the sexism because it seems so far removed from the attitudes of today. I’m not saying sexism doesn’t exist today but, in most Western countries at least, it’s just found in certain individuals rather than throughout society as a whole and throughout her institutions. Anyway if you watch this and find it offensive, for any reason at all, I’m truly sorry.
The first time watching this movie is such an odd experience because almost every line, that’s not an exaggeration, almost every line has been used in a comedy sketch or quoted in some show or movie, and to see and hear them spoken in their original context, without a hint of irony, is – well it’s a really odd experience. At least that’s how I found it. But on subsequent viewings you forget all the mimicry and homages, and just appreciate the story – which is about putting ideals and the needs of the greater good ahead of your own personal feelings and desires. Definitely don’t make them like this anymore.
4. Dead End
There are a number of films I have really enjoyed that I’d never have seen if they weren’t freely available online. This is one of them. It’s rare that a good old movie isn’t aired regularly on TV. I’m not sure why this one has been overlooked. The film follows the residents in a poor neighbourhood over the course of a day and night, while they dream of a future, confront their past, entertain themselves, defend themselves and try to avoid the scrutiny, condescension and judgement of those with power and money. Yes, it’s a little worthy – but I think it’s worth it.
5. To Have and Have Not
Bogart and Bacall stared in four films together, To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948). They have great chemistry in each of the films but this is the one with the best story, with Key Largo coming a close second. The film is a loose adaptation of Hemingway’s book – how loose I couldn’t say as I haven’t read it. Another WWII film set in an exotic location.
6. The Maltese Falcon
I only just realized this is another John Huston movie. It’s a classic of the film noir genre. With these types of films, I think the story is kind of secondary to the atmosphere and performances. Discovering the twists and turns of the plot isn’t as important as just soaking up the feeling. I watch a lot of movies from the US 1930s – 40s. There is an optimism (and simplicity) to them that I find very uplifting. Films from the 30s in particular seem to be designed to lift people out of recession blues. The film noir genre grew in the 40s and 50s. It seems to coincide with a general loss of the faith that things would all work out in the end. Bizarrely I also love these types of films. They are drenched in a resigned sort of bitterness. This isn’t as bitter as later film noir movies. If you’re in the mood for something more bitter try Dead Reckoning. But this is a classic and I love the Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet characters.
7. In a Lonely Place
This is another film noir but it’s not as macho as the usual type. It’s the only real gripe I have with movies from this genre – the female characters are very two-dimensional – usually. This isn’t one of those films. The characters are all quite rounded. Bogart plays a screenwriter with a quick temper who becomes a murder suspect, only his attractive sweet neighbour seems to think him innocent. But then even she isn’t so sure…
OK this is a straightforward romantic comedy. It’s directed by Billy Wilder but it’s not his usual fare and it’s not the best work of its three stars, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden, but still it’s a very likeable movie. Perfect sort of rainy day movie.
William Holden plays David the idle playboy brother of Bogart’s all-business-head-of-the-family-corporation Linus. Audrey Hepburn plays Sabrina, the family chauffeur’s daughter who has been in love with David since childhood. She comes back from Paris looking all grown up and Linus starts dating her to keep her away from David who is due to marry the daughter of another big-business family.
Does anyone, apart from actors, really learn to crack eggs like this?
9. Oh no, this is the second last spot…
OK, I know I said I’d limit it to 10 but … well … I’m not very good at sticking to the rules. So really quickly I’ll just mention a few together:
The Harder They Fall
This was Bogart’s last movie. It’s like an exposé of the boxing industry at that time. I don’t know how accurate it is but it’s a good movie.
The Barefoot Contessa
OK, this film is kind of ridiculous. The Barefoot Contessa’s character is typical of the kind of “on-a-pedestal” female character of old Hollywood movies. But I guess it does show also that she isn’t comfortable being in this position. Ava Gardner plays the unattainable goddess, who sneaks off barefoot so as to leave no trace when she wants to play with mere mortal men. When she does marry is her husband the god she deserves?
OK so I had a clip from TCM but it doesn’t seem to play right… This is a clip of the trailer – I may not have remembered the plot of the movie correctly…
The Left Hand of God
Humphrey Bogart, dressed as a priest, arrives at a some remote mission in China. He takes a tougher, less Christian, line with local gangsters than previous priests but it seems to work. Gene Tierney plays a nurse who is confused by her growing attraction to him. It’s a bit corny I guess but I like it.
When I was looking for a clip of this movie on YouTube I came across this video. I stopped and watched it because back in 2003 I saw a brilliant documentary on RTE 2 called With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America. It was made in 1996 by I think Lumiere Productions. Really good political documentaries don’t just show you the state of things they enable you to see where things are headed. Well, for a time – I think things have moved on. But anyway I started watching this because the description in the search results read ‘Theologian Rabbi Michael Lerner discusses his book, “The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right”, …’ and I was curious to hear a voice from America’s Religious Left. I wasn’t sure about linking to it here because I know some people are offended by the mention of any religious-themed discourse and I don’t want to offend anyone but in the end I decided to because this man is a liberal and most of the religious clerics (the vast majority of whom are Christian) that I have met sound just like this man, they preach the same message of love and understanding. And I just wanted to link to something that showed a view of religion that is inclusive and liberal.
By the way I’m not anti right-wing politics, while I am generally more inclined towards socialist type policies, I do like right wing ideas of smaller government and encouraging/enabling self-reliance whenever possible.
What I am anti is people being against other people. Most people I’ve met who believe in God believe in people and so they aren’t anti them. Most atheists I’ve met believe in people also. But from both groups I’ve met a fair number of people who believe there is a correct view of life that we all should believe in. Maybe they are right, well I guess if they are only one section of them is right, but certainly this is not a liberal view. I like the liberal view of things.
Most of Bogart’s early movies, like The Petrified Forest, The Roaring Twenties and Angels With Dirty Faces, have him in the no-good-gangster role, who may or may not redeem himself before coming to a sorry end. I didn’t include these here because the early gangster films seem more suited to a James Cagney list – the best of which is, I think, White Heat.
10. It All Came True
I started off the list with a movie I think most people would enjoy, so I thought I’d finish it with a movie that you do need to really love old movies to enjoy. This is as daft as old movies get. Humphrey Bogart is holed up in a boarding house while on the run from the law and then somehow they transform the house into a nightclub and persuade Bogart to do the right thing and give himself up to the authorities. OK, that is a total spoiler but in fairness you know that this is always going to end well. It’s adorable.
Unfortunately the only clip I could find was the trailer.
So that’s the list – hope you like it.
Since writing this I watched The Caine Mutiny (1954) and so I’m adding it to the list.
And I watched this as well.
OK this is the end of my 10 Humphrey Bogart movies list. Really.