Film Noir : Is it odd to not like Bogart?

Is it odd to not like Bogart?

IMO all his Detective films now resemble noir parodies with scenery chewing between actors who spit out dialogue faster than humans can actually think, and Bogart's character is rarely all that personally involved so it comes off as slightly darker Sherlock Holmes films. Beneath those marquee stealing titles is a wealth of what I think are better, darker and more realistic noirs. The Big Sleep is a rom com compared to something bleak like Scarlet Street.

Re: Is it odd to not like Bogart?

I think he only did two - The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep. Both stories written by famous authors that have been done multiple times for the screen and if the films seem like parodies to you it could be because they became the template for detective films and are seemingly always showing on television.

I'm not sure dark or bleak is what either book was going for but they have enough murder, greed, betrayal and human frailty - to go along with very convoluted plots - to be textbook noir.

Dialog in any film can come off as contrived (after all, it is) but I think The Maltese Falcon is very well written. As for the romantic tilt to The Big Sleep, the studio sat on the film for two years and during that time added scenes with Bacall to capitalize on the public's fascination with Hollywood's number one couple. Bacall's part was very minor in the book, it was the Martha Vickers character who was the lead femme in Chandler's novel.

I wouldn't accuse Bogart of scenery chewing either. There are some pretty big stars in both films that had some good lines. Bogart is the central character and he is in every scene, so he's going to come off as the coolest guy in the room. I think most of the dialog serves to keep the story going and doesn't really go off course - the added Bacall scenes in TBS being the exception.

Neither film would make my top ten list of dark and bleak film noir, but both are among my favorites.

Re: Is it odd to not like Bogart?

I just watched Dark Passage and even though he isn't technically a detective, he really is. He floats through the movie talking a lot, following threads and I never feel like his backstory bothers him that much. Something about Bogart makes him so hard boiled that something like a dead wife just bounces off. I remember having the same impression with Dead Reckoning as well. And when he isn't a detective-type he is an MC, moving people around perfectly leading to the resolve, ala Casablanca. Bogart's characters basically act and talk as if they read the script in advance. I guess I like my male a little more prone to foolishly lead towards disaster. Maybe for that reason, most of my fave Bogart films are when he played bad guy, Two Mrs. Carrolls, In a Lonely Place and Conflict.

I can see how he is the noir figurehead, like what John Wayne is for Western. Both were the epitome of cool, macho, odd talking, "never fails" archetypes, and in both cases their supposed also rans were much more interesting to me. Give me any Anthony Mann Western with James Stewart over Rio Bravo, and any Fritz Lang Noir with Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews, Edward G. Robinson & Dan Duryea over Casablanca/The Maltese Falcon/The Big Sleep.

Re: Is it odd to not like Bogart?

I get what you're saying. The Maltese Falcon I think is better than The Big Sleep though, all the BS dialog between Bogart and Bacall about racehorses really comes off as contrived and not really very spontaneous (like you say they sound as if they are reading a script), it must have produced titters, nudges, and winks though to Hayes Code audiences, but today it just sounds bogus.

If you want something to compare The Big Sleep (1945) to, check out The Big Sleep (1978) with Robert Mitchum in the Philip Marlowe role, it doesn't have the Bacall/Bogart love story, follows the novel more closely, and isn't hampered by the Hayes Code. It's biggest problem is the whole story is shifted to The United Kingdom and updated to the present 1978.

If you don't know that the story was supposed to be all taking place in 1939 and was supposed to be in Los Angeles you'll actually find it a pretty good film, the story updates flawlessly, and all the supporting cast is top notch.

What makes it an even bigger shame was Mitchum played Marlowe three years earlier in Farewell My Lovely (1975), based on Chandler's 1940 novel. That film kept the story to the year 1941, and it's also not hampered by the Hayes code nor by the PC code. If they would have just followed the previous film it could have been a whole series with The High Window 1942, The Lady in the Lake 1943, The Little Sister 1949, and The Long Good-bye (1953) maybe also tackled.

Another recommendation for you is Hammett (1982) which is sort of another take on The Maltese Falcon, the story is actually about Dashiell Hammett ex detective turned writer and about how he may have conceived of The Maltese Falcon.

Re: I thought that.....

I thought that Bogart was absolutely amazing in In a Lonely Place. That one is by far one of his best performances.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: I thought that.....

I think that Bogart is at his scariest in 'In A Lonely place.' That and 'The Maltese Falcon' and 'The Big Sleep' are all in my top 6 favourite noir films.

Re: I thought that.....

Not only was he scary, but he sure gave one heck of a performance! Unfortunately, this film is sadly overlooked....

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =
Top