Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957)
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The name perhaps means more things to more people than that of any other Hollywood hero. Bogart's ugly-handsome face, perpetual cigarette and rasping voice bespoke a man who was nobody's fool, a loner but never an outcast.
Humphrey Bogart was born in New York on January 23 ,1899. His father, Dr Belmont Deforest Bogart, was one of the city's most eminent surgeons. His mother Maud, was a magazine illustrator. After completing his studies at Trinity school, Bogart entered Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Expelled for bad behaviour, he joined the U.S Marines in 1918 and served several months. On his return to civilian life, he was hired by theatrical producer William A.Brady, who made him his road manager and encouraged him to try his hand at acting. His first appearances were somewhat unconvincing but Bogart persevered and gradually learned to master the craft
In 1929 he was spotted by a talent scout in Its a Wise Child and put under a year's contract by 20th Century Fox. At this period he was just a young stage actor with no particular following; the studio uncertain about how best to use him, tried him out in an assortment of genres. The results were uneven and unpromising and Bogart, after being loaned out to Universal for a brief appearance in Bad Sister (1931) - as a man about town who leaves his young wife in the lurch - returned to Broadway, convinced that he was through with cinema for good. Though he went on to make several movies on the 30's it was 1941 that catapulted him to one of the biggest, most immortal stars to this day.
In 1941, Bogart's luck suddenly changed for the better. He was given the lead in Walsh's High Sierra in place of George Raft (who had turned the part down). Although Ida Lupino had top billing and gave one of her finest performance, it was Bogart, in the role of Roy Earle an ageing and delusional gangster, who was the discovery of the film. For the first time he revealed a human dimension and depth which went beyond the requirements of the plot.
In 1941 this epitome of virile skepticism took on the features of Sam Spade. The character created in 1929 by the novelist Dashiell Hammett had already been twice adapted for the screen without success; however the third version of The Maltese Falcon, which was more faithful than the others to Hammett's novel, hit the jackpot. Surrounded by a brilliant cast, perfectly illustrated the ethics of the private eye. Intransigent, totally independent, indifferent to the police yet wholly unself-serving, his Spade had absolute authenticity. The Bogartian character had suddenly found its true physiognomy. He was and would remain a man who concealed his own needs behind a hard bitten exterior, who rejected all higher principles and distrusted all abstract causes. He was a loner who did not ask for help from anyone.
Casablanca (1942) and To Have and Have Not (1944) both cast him in the midst of a cosmopolitan and divided world. In these films, fascists, Gaullists and refugees of every kind attempt to obtain his support but Bogart remains very much his own man.
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