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Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection [12 Discs] [With Book & Photo Cards] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • The Petrified Forest: Includes - Commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax
  • Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1936: Newsreel, Musical Short Rhythmitis, Classic Cartoon The Coo Coo Nut Grove,
  • Trailers of This and 1936's Bullets or Ballots
  • Audio-Only Bonus-Radio Show Adaptation with Bogart
  • Marked Woman - Featurette Marked Woman: Ripped from the Headlines
  • Classic Cartoons Porky's Hero Agency and She Was an Acrobat's Daughter
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Kid Galahad - Commentary by Historians Art Simon and Robert Sklar
  • Warner Night at the Movies 1937 Short Subjects Gallery: Newsreel, Comedy Short Postal Union, Your True Adventure Series Short Alibi Mark, Classic Cartoons Egghead Rides Again, I Wanna Be a Sailor and Porkey's Super Service
  • Trailers of This and 1937's It's Love I'm After
  • Black Legion - Commentary by Historians Patricia King Hanson and Anthony Slide
  • Warner Night at the Movies 1937 Short Subjects Gallery: Newsreel, Musical Short Hi De Ho, Historical Short Under Southern Stars, Classic Cartoon Porky and Gabby, and Trailers of This and 1937's The Perfect Specimen
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Action in the North Atlantic
Action in the North Atlantic is solid wartime propaganda with a rather endearing inner lining of left-wing politics, courtesy (no doubt) of scenarist John Howard Lawson, who based his screenplay on a novel by maritime specialist Guy Gilpatric. While running war goods to America's Russian allies, a merchant marine ship captained by Raymond Massey is torpedoed. The courage of Massey and his first mate Humphrey Bogart serves as an inspiration to the survivors, who manage to navigate their tiny lifeboat to America, where they are lauded as heroes. After only the briefest of compassionate leaves (Massey is reunited with wife Ruth Gordon, while Bogart strikes up a relationship with Julie Bishop), the crew is assigned a new Liberty Ship. Despite fears of being torpedoed again, Massey, Bogart, and the other men successfully bring their cargo to Russia, shooting down several German planes in the process. As the Americans are cheered on by the smiling, well-fed Russian seamen and peasants, Action in the North Atlantic fades out, with the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt (actually radio announcer Art Gilmore) heard on the soundtrack encouraging a "United Nations" allegiance against the axis. The supporting cast of Action in the North Atlantic includes a young newcomer by the name of Bernard Zanville, whose billing was changed to "Dane Clark" upon the film's release. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Casablanca
One of the most beloved American films, this captivating wartime adventure of romance and intrigue from director Michael Curtiz defies standard categorization. Simply put, it is the story of Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a world-weary ex-freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in Casablanca during the early part of WWII. Despite pressure from the local authorities, notably the crafty Capt. Renault (Claude Rains), Rick's café has become a haven for refugees looking to purchase illicit letters of transit which will allow them to escape to America. One day, to Rick's great surprise, he is approached by the famed rebel Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) and his wife, Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), Rick's true love who deserted him when the Nazis invaded Paris. She still wants Victor to escape to America, but now that she's renewed her love for Rick, she wants to stay behind in Casablanca. "You must do the thinking for both of us," she says to Rick. He does, and his plan brings the story to its satisfyingly logical, if not entirely happy, conclusion. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

To Have and Have Not
Humphrey Bogart plays Harry Morgan, owner-operator of charter boat in wartime Martinique. Morgan's right-hand man is Eddie (Walter Brennan), a garrulous alky whose pet question to anyone and everyone is "Ever get stung by a dead bee?" While in port, Harry is approached by Free French activist Gerard (Marcel Dalio), who wants to charter Harry's boat to smuggle in an important underground leader. Adopting his usual I-stick-my-neck-out-for-no-one stance, Morgan refuses. Later on, he starts up a dalliance with Marie Browning (screen newcomer Lauren Bacall), an attractive pickpocket. In order to help Marie return to America, Harry agrees to Gerard's smuggling terms. He uses his boat to bring resistance fighter De Bursac (Walter Molnar) and De Bursac's wife Helene (Dolores Moran) into Martinique. The Vichy police, suspecting that something's amiss, hold Morgan's pal Eddie hostage, tormenting the poor rummy by denying him liquor. Predictably, Morgan comes to Eddie's rescue and manages to escape Martinique, with the delectable Marie as cozy company. In the hands of director Howard Hawks and screenwriters Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, the end result bore only a passing relation to the original story by Ernest Hemingway: instead, it was a virtual rehash (but a good one!) of the recently released Casablanca, replete with several of that film's cast members. The film's enduring popularity is primarily -- if not solely -- due to the sexy chemistry between Bogart and Bacall, especially in the legendary "You know how to whistle, don't you?" scene. The most salutary result of To Have & Have Not was the subsequent Bogart-Bacall marriage, which endured until his death in 1957. It's widely believed that Lauren Bacall's singing voice was dubbed in by a pre-puberty Andy Williams; this is not true. For the record, a more faithful-to-the-source cinemadaptation of the Hemingway original was filmed in 1950 as The Breaking Point. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
John Huston's 1948 treasure-hunt classic begins as drifter Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), down and out in Tampico, Mexico, impulsively spends his last bit of dough on a lottery ticket. Later on, Dobbs and fellow indigent Curtin (Tim Holt) seek shelter in a cheap flophouse and meet Howard (Walter Huston), a toothless, garrulous old coot who regales them with stories about prospecting for gold. Forcibly collecting their pay from their shifty boss, Dobbs and Curtin combine this money with Dobbs's unexpected windfall from a lottery ticket and, together with Howard, buy the tools for a prospecting expedition. Dobbs has pledged that anything they dig up will be split three ways, but Howard, who's heard that song before, doesn't quite swallow this. As the gold is mined and measured, Dobbs grows increasingly paranoid and distrustful, and the men gradually turn against each other on the way toward a bitterly ironic conclusion. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a superior morality play and one of the best movie treatments of the corrosiveness of greed. Huston keeps a typically light and entertaining touch despite the strong theme, for which he won Oscars for both Director and Screenplay, as well as a supporting award for his father Walter, making Walter, John, and Anjelica Huston the only three generations of one family all to win Oscars. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Across the Pacific
A lively espionage drama that reunited the stars and director of the previous year's The Maltese Falcon, Across the Pacific was originally envisioned as the story of a Japanese invasion of Hawaii. Real-life events of December of 1941, however, precluded such a scenario and the location was changed to the Panama Canal. For reasons known only to Warner Bros., the title was retained despite the fact that none of the action takes place in the Pacific. Humphrey Bogart plays Rick Leland, a disgraced ex-army man, who, after being turned down by the Canadian military, jumps a Japanese steamer bound for the Panama Canal Zone. Also onboard are Alberta Marlow (Mary Astor), a small-town girl claiming to be en route to Los Angeles; Dr. Lorenz (Sydney Greenstreet), a corpulent sociologist with a suspiciously friendly regard for all things Japanese; and Joe Totsuiko (Victor Sen Yung), a happy-go-lucky second generation Japanese-American on his way to visit the old country. But no one is exactly who he or she claims to be and the voyage from Halifax via New York City to Panama becomes a matter of life and death for the passengers in general, and for the future of the United States in particular. Director John Huston was forced to leave the film three weeks into the four-week shooting schedule when summoned to report to the Department of Special Services. According to Huston, he purposefully placed Humphrey Bogart's character in a highly precarious situation and left it up to his replacement, Vincent Sherman, to come up with the solution -- which Sherman did in an especially fiery climax. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

The Maltese Falcon
After two previous film versions of Dashiell Hammett's detective classic The Maltese Falcon, Warner Bros. finally got it right in 1941--or, rather, John Huston, a long-established screenwriter making his directorial debut, got it right, simply by adhering as closely as possible to the original. Taking over from a recalcitrant George Raft, Humphrey Bogart achieved true stardom as Sam Spade, a hard-boiled San Francisco private eye who can be as unscrupulous as the next guy but also adheres to his own personal code of honor. Into the offices of the Spade & Archer detective agency sweeps a Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor), who offers a large retainer to Sam and his partner Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) if they'll protect her from someone named Floyd Thursby. The detectives believe neither Miss Wonderly nor her story, but they believe her money. Since Archer saw her first, he takes the case -- and later that evening he is shot to death, as is the mysterious Thursby. Miss Wonderly's real name turns out to be Brigid O'Shaughnessey, and, as the story continues, Sam is also introduced to the effeminate Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) and the fat, erudite Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet, in his film debut). It turns out that Brigid, Cairo and Gutman are all international scoundrels, all involved in the search for a foot-high, jewel-encrusted statuette in the shape of a falcon. Though both Cairo and Gutman offer Spade small fortunes to find the "black bird," they are obviously willing to commit mayhem and murder towards that goal: Gutman, for example, drugs Spade and allows his "gunsel" Wilmer (Elisha Cook Jr.) to kick and beat the unconscious detective. This classic film noir detective yarn gets better with each viewing, which is more than can be said for the first two Maltese Falcons and the ill-advised 1975 "sequel" The Black Bird. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Kid Galahad
Fight manager Nick Donati (Edward G. Robinson) has just lost his best fighter to crooked promoter Turkey Morgan (Humphrey Bogart). During a party at Donati's apartment, a bellhop (Wayne Morris) kayos Morgan's boxer, who has insulted the honor of Donati's girlfriend, Louise "Fluff" Phillips (Bette Davis). Sensing a good thing when he sees it, Donati takes the bellhop under his wing, promoting the erstwhile pugilist as Kid Galahad. Morris is shipped to Donati's farm for training, where he falls in love with Donati's sheltered kid sister, Marie (Jane Bryan). Angered at this, Donati sets up Kid Galahad for a fall, ordering him to take a dive in an upcoming bout and betting his bankroll on Morgan's boy. Kid Galahad takes a terrific beating until, at the urging of Fluff and Marie, he abruptly changes his ring strategy. When Galahad wins, Morgan, feeling he's been double-crossed by Donati, shoots the latter. Morgan manages to fatally wound Morgan before expiring himself; as he breathes his last, he gives his belated blessing to Galahad and Marie's romance. To avoid confusion with Elvis Presley's 1962 remake of Kid Galahad, the earlier film was retitled The Battling Bellhop for TV. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Petrified Forest
Burned-out British intellectual Alan Squier (Leslie Howard) wanders into the desert service station/restaurant owned by Jason Maple (Porter Hall). Alan finds himself an object of fascination for Jason's starry-eyed daughter, Gabrielle Bette Davis, who dreams of moving to France and establishing herself. Boze Hertzlinger (Dick Foran), Gabrielle's gas-jockey boyfriend, grows jealous of Alan, but the penniless, dissipated Briton has no intention of settling down; in fact, as soon as he mooches a ride from wealthy tourists Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm (Paul Harvey and Genevieve Tobin), he's on his way out of Gabrielle's life...or so everyone thinks. Later that same day, Alan, Gabrielle, Jason, Boze, and Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm are huddled together in the selfsame restaurant, held at gunpoint by Dillinger-like desperado Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) and his gang. Alan seems indifferent to the danger, toasting Duke as "the last great apostle of rugged individualism." Sensing an opportunity to give his life meaning, Alan takes Duke aside, begging the outlaw to kill him so that Gabrielle can travel to Paris on the money provided by Alan's insurance policy. When the police converge on the restaurant, Duke announces that he intends to use Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm as a shield in order to make his escape. Alan tries to stop him, receiving a bullet in the belly for his troubles. "So long, pal," growls Duke fatalistically, moments before his own death, "I'll be seein' ya soon." Alan dies in Gabrielle's arms, secure in the knowledge that, alone among the film's principals, she will be able to escape the trap of her existence. When originally presented on Broadway, Robert E. Sherwood's The Petrified Forest starred Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart. Warner Bros. intended to cast Edward G. Robinson in Duke's role, only to be thwarted by Howard, who told the studio that he himself would drop out of the project if Bogart wasn't retained. The film proved to be just the break that Bogart needed; years later, he expressed his undying gratitude to Howard by naming his daughter Leslie Bogart. One year after The Petrified Forest, Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard co-starred in The Stand-In. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

High Sierra
San Quentin
One of a slew of prison reform picture that flourished during the Great Depression, this melodrama was banned in Finland. Pat O'Brien stars as Steve Jameson, a former Army officer who is hired at the infamous California prison of the title and quickly brings military order to the facility, separating the general population from the most violent offenders. In the meantime, Steve is falling for a singer, May (Ann Sheridan), but he keeps his profession a secret when she reveals that her brother Joe (Humphrey Bogart) is serving time in San Quentin. May eventually learns of Steve's deception and their romance hits the skids. When a jealous rival guard, Lt. Druggin (Barton MacLane), arranges for Joe to discover the romance between Steve and his sister, Joe begins plotting escape and revenge. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Marked Woman
Bette Davis' famous walk-out from her home studio of Warner Bros. may have hurt her financially, but in the long run it paid off with bigger parts in better films. Like many Warners films of the period, Marked Woman was "torn from today's headlines." Specifically, it was inspired by the recent downfall of gangster Lucky Luciano, who at one time controlled all prostitution activities in New York. The ladies herein are euphemistically characterized as "night club hostesses," but when Luciano look-alike Johnny Vanning (Eduardo Cianelli) shows up at a fancy clip-joint to give the girls their marching orders, the audience can tell exactly what's going on. Been-there-done-that hostess Mary (Davis) is no better than she ought to be, though she has a definite code of honor; she stands up to the dictatorial Vanning at every opportunity, fending of his amorous attentions and seeing to it that her "over the hill"colleague Estelle (Mayo Methot) is retained on the gangster's payroll. At the same time, Mary tries to shield her seedy profession from her virginal sister Betty (Jane Bryan), but the girl discovers the truth and becomes a "B"-girl herself, a rash move that results in her death. Previously frightened into silence by periodic beatings from Vanning's goons, Mary and four of her girlfriends become state's witnesses, providing testimony to crusading District Attorney David Graham (Humphrey Bogart, playing a character clearly patterned after Thomas E. Dewey). A last-ditch effort to permanently stifle Mary and her friends fails, and the ladies show up in court to put the noose around Vanning's neck. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Dark Victory
Bette Davis earned an Oscar nomination for her role in this classic four-hanky tearjerker. Judith Traherne (Bette Davis) is a very wealthy Long Island heiress whose life is a constant whirl of cocktails, parties, and wild living. Despite her hedonistic lifestyle, Judith derives little pleasure from life except for her horses, cared for by stable master Michael O'Leary (Humphrey Bogart). When Judith begins suffering from headaches and dizzy spells, Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent) gives her the bad news: she has a brain tumor that could threaten her life if not treated immediately. Judith consents to surgery, and Frederick informs her that the operation was a success. A grateful Judith quickly falls in love with Frederick, and they plan to marry. However, the tumor returns, and when Judith discovers that she has only a few months to live, she calls off the wedding, convinced that Frederick is marrying her only as an act of pity for a dying woman. A major success and perennial favorite, Dark Victory was later remade as Stolen Hours with Susan Hayward and as a TV movie starring Elizabeth Montgomery. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

All Through the Night
Humphrey Bogart plays Gloves Donahue, a rough-hewn but essentially decent New York gambler. The Runyonesque plot gets moving when Gloves tries to find out what's holding up his favorite restaurant's daily shipment of cheesecake. Paying a call on the bakery, Gloves stumbles into a Nazi spy ring, masterminded by Conrad Veidt. Mixed up in all this is nightclub singer Kaaren Verne, whose loyalties are in question in her early scenes but who turns out to be as true-blue as the patriotic Gloves. Combining a quick wit with quicker fists, Gloves and his "mob" thwart the Nazis before they're able to skip the country. The cast is a movie buff's dream, ranging from Jane Darwell as Bogart's mom to Peter Lorre as a cynical Nazi flunkey to William Demarest, Frank McHugh, Phil Silvers and Jackie Gleason as Bogie's favorite cohorts. The film's best scene would have us believe that Bogart could confound a gang of erudite Nazis with a steady stream of Manhattan slang. One shudders to think how leaden All Through the Night would have been had George Raft accepted the role of Gloves Donahue. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Virginia City
Promoted as a follow-up to the popular 1939 western Dodge City (which, indeed, was left wide open for a sequel in its closing scenes), Virginia City bears only surface resemblance to the earlier film. Indeed, the only discerning links between the two pictures are the western setting and the presence in the cast of Errol Flynn, Frank McHugh, Alan Hale and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams. After escaping from a Confederate prison during the Civil War, Union officer Flynn vows to stop a $5,000,000 gold shipment from reaching the South. He is challenged by Southern sympathizer Randolph Scott, whose interest in the gold is patriotic, and by outlaw Humphrey Bogart (complete with a Mexican accent that wouldn't convince a cow), whose interests are purely mercenary. Adding spice to the proceedings is Miriam Hopkins as a dance hall chanteusse-cum-Confederate spy. Better in individual components than sum total, Virginia City pleased the crowds in 1940, assuring that the Tasmanian-born Errol Flynn would continue appearing in westerns in the future. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Black Legion
This hard-hitting, socially conscious drama, the sort of story that Warner Bros. made their hallmark in the 1930s, concerns a factory worker named Frank Taylor (Humphrey Bogart), who is convinced that a big promotion is right around the corner for him. However, the promotion goes to a harder-working Polish immigrant named Joe Dombrowski (Henry Brandon). Angry and upset, Frank is approached by members of a secret organization called the Black Legion, who believe in "America for Americans" and want to drive away immigrants and racial minorities through violent means. Wearing black robes, Frank and the other members of the Legion go on a torchlight raid, driving Dombrowski and his family from their home. With Dombrowski gone from the plant, Frank gets the job, which means more money and a higher standard of living for him and his family. But his outlaw activities with the Legion begin taking up more of his time (and his money, as they make a healthy profit selling robes, weapons, and racist geegaws to their membership), which drives a wedge between Frank and his wife Ruth (Erin O'Brien-Moore). Frank begins drinking and starts slapping Ruth around; she leaves him, and Frank takes up with a floozie named Pearl (Helen Flint). Ed (Dick Foran), a good friend of Frank's, sees that his buddy is drinking too much and ruining his life, so he tries to step in and express his concern. His tongue loosened by alcohol, Frank tells Ed about his secret life with the violent Legion; the next morning, Frank is afraid that Ed might inform on him to the police, so he tells the Legion leadership what has happened. They subsequently order Ed to be captured and executed. While Warner Bros. attempted to avoid the wrath of Black Legion and Ku Klux Klan members by stating that all characters and institutions were entirely fictional, Black Legion was still a brave attack on hate groups, given that lynchings were not uncommon in parts of the United States in the mid-1930s. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Invisible Stripes
Invisible Stripes is a cookie-cutter Warners prison drama which rounds up the usual suspects. George Raft and Humphrey Bogart are top-billed, and as is often the case in such a circumstance, it is Raft who is given the larger (albeit less interesting) role. Raft plays Cliff Taylor, an ex-convict who finds that his "invisible stripes" prevent him from getting a decent job. Cliff's younger brother (William Holden) shows unfortunate signs of following his older sibling's footsteps when he is pressured into crime to support himself and his girl friend (Jane Bryan). To save his brother, Cliff joins Humphrey Bogart's gang and earns enough dishonest money to set his brother up in business. But movie censorship prevails, and all of the miscreants in Invisible Stripes--even those motivated by good intentions--must pay the penalty. Side note: The prankish Humphrey Bogart spent so much time needling newcomer William Holden that Holden nearly came to blows with the older actor; the animosity persisted into the Bogart-Holden costarring feature Sabrina, made fourteen years later. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Key Largo
Richard Brooks and John Huston's screenplay for Huston's Key Largo eschews the lofty blank verse of Maxwell Anderson's original play, concentrating instead on the simmering tensions among the many characters. Humphrey Bogart plays Frank McCloud, an embittered war veteran who travels to Key Largo in Florida, there to meet Nora Temple (Lauren Bacall), the wife of his deceased war buddy. Arriving at a tumbledown hotel managed by Nora's father-in-law James Temple (Lionel Barrymore), McCloud discovers that the establishment has been taken over by exiled gangster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) and what's left of his mob. Also in attendance is Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor), Rocco's alcoholic girlfriend. While the others bristle at the thought of being held at bay by the gangsters, the disillusioned McCloud refuses to get involved: "One Rocco more or less isn't worth dying for." As he awaits a contact who is bringing him enough money to skip the country, Rocco is responsible for the deaths of a deputy sheriff and two local Indian youth. Unwilling to take a stand before these tragedies, McCloud finally comes to realize that Rocco is a beast who must be destroyed. To save the others from harm, McCloud agrees to pilot Rocco's boat to Cuba through the storm-tossed waters. Just before McCloud leaves, Gaye Dawn slips him a gun -- which leads to the deadly final confrontation between McCloud and Rocco. His resolve to go on living renewed by this cathartic experience, McCloud heads back to Nora, with whom he's fallen in love. Claire Trevor's virtuoso performance as a besotted ex-nightclub singer won her an Academy Award -- as predicted by her admiring fellow actors, who watched her go through several very difficult scenes in long, uninterrupted takes. While Key Largo sags a bit during its more verbose passages, on a visual level the film is one of the best and most evocative examples of the "film noir" school. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Brother Orchid
Edward G. Robinson plays orchid-loving gangster Little John Sarto, who aspires to "real class." During a power struggle with usurping mobster Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart), Sarto is taken for a one-way ride, but he escapes his would-be assassins and hides out in a monastery overseen by Brother Superior (Donald Crisp). Sarto insists that he'd like to become a monk himself, but in fact he's using the monastery as a hideout, the better to mount his counterattack against Buck. Eventually Sarto's resolve is weakened by the kindness of the monks, and he decides to turn over a new leaf. He sees to it that Buck is brought to justice, and also fixes up his true-blue "moll," Flo Addams (Ann Sothern), with good-hearted Texas rancher Clarence Fletcher (Ralph Bellamy). (News flash! Bellamy gets the girl for once!) Sarto, now known as "Brother Orchid," returns to the monastery for good, declaring that he's finally found the real class. Though Edward G. Robinson didn't want to play another gangster, he agreed to star in Brother Orchid in exchange for being allowed to essay the lead in Warner Bros.' historical drama A Dispatch From Reuter's (1940). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Passage to Marseille
Designed as a followup to the enormously successful Casablanca, Passage to Marseille utilizes the talents of many of the on- and off-screen personnel of the earlier Warner Bros. classic. Unfolded in a complex flashback-within-flashback structure, this is the story of Matrac (Humphrey Bogart), a freedom-loving French journalist who sacrifices his happiness and security to battle Nazi tyrrany. The film opens as French liason officer Freycinet (Claude Rains), stationed in London, tells Mantrac's story to a British reporter (John Loder). Freycinet reveals that Mantrac, happily married to Paula (Michele Morgan), was framed by pro-fascists and sentenced to Devil's Island. Here he engineered a daring escape with such lost souls as Marius (Peter Lorre), Garou (Helmut Dantine), Petit (George Tobias) and Renault (Philip Dorn). Adrift in a lifeboat, the escapees were picked up by a French vessel commandeered by pro-fascist Major Duval (Sydney Greenstreet). With the help of Mantrac and the prisoners, the ship's patriotic captain (Victor Francen) thwarted Duval's evil machinations, enabling Mantrac to continue his battle against Nazism as a member of the RAF. By modern standards, Passage to Marseille is overproduced, overdirected, overacted and overscored (by Max Steiner); however, it filled a definite need in wartime America, and proved a huge financial success. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Roaring Twenties
Based upon an idea by Broadway columnist Mark Hellinger, The Roaring Twenties opens during World War I as doughboys Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney), Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn), and George Hally (Humphrey Bogart) discuss what they will do when the war is over. Bartlett wants to go back to repairing cabs, and Hart yearns to be a lawyer, but it becomes clear that Hally has less reputable plans in mind for himself. Come the end of the war, things are not as easy for veterans like Bartlett as they should be. He is unable to get his old job back and ends up driving a cab for little money. One night he is asked to deliver a package (which turns out to be whiskey) to an address that turns out to be a speakeasy. This starts him on a life of crime, as he gets deeper involved as a bootlegger. Things are not made easy by a rival bootlegger -- who turns out to be Hally. The two join forces and prosper. Hart shares in their prosperity, as Bartlett engages him to take care of his legal matters. Unfortunately, Hart is also interested in Jean Sherman (Priscilla Lane), a young woman that Bartlett has had an eye on for quite some time. He loses her to Hart at about the same time that his criminal empire crumbles, and he is reduced to driving a cab again while Hally continues to prosper with his ruthless ways. Eventually, Hart -- now a crusading prosecutor -- runs afoul of Hally, who tells Jean that he will kill him if he doesn't change his ways. Jean begs Bartlett to intercede with Hally; because he still is carrying a torch for her, Bartlett agrees -- but by doing so, he may have signed his own death warrant. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Dark Passage
Robert Montgomery's 1946 film Lady in the Lake attempted to tell the entire story with a "subjective camera": shooting the film from the point of view of the main character, with the camera acting as his "eyes". The first hour or so of Dark Passage does the same thing--and the results are far more successful than anything seen in Montgomery's film. Humphrey Bogart heads the cast as an escaped convict, wrongly accused of his wife's murder. After being forced to beat up a man (Clifton Young) from whom he's hitched a ride, Bogart hides out in the apartment of Lauren Bacall, while recovering from plastic surgery, and tries to set about locating the actual murderer. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Big Sleep
The definitive Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall vehicle, The Big Sleep casts Bogart as Raymond Chandler's cynical private eye Philip Marlowe. Summoned to the home of the fabulously wealthy General Sternwood (Charles Waldron), Marlowe is hired to deal with a blackmailer shaking down the General's sensuous, thumb-sucking daughter Carmen (Martha Vickers). This earns Marlowe the displeasure of Carmen's sloe-eyed, seemingly straight-laced older sister Vivian (Bacall), who is fiercely protective of her somewhat addled sibling. As he pursues the case at hand, Marlowe gets mixed up in the murder of Arthur Geiger (Theodore von Eltz), a dealer in pornography. He also runs afoul of gambling-house proprietor Eddie Mars (John Ridgely), who seems to have some sort of hold over the enigmatic Vivian. Any further attempts to outline the plot would be futile: the storyline becomes so complicated and convoluted that even screenwriters William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthmann were forced to consult Raymond Chandler for advice (he was as confused by the plot as the screenwriters). When originally prepared for release in 1945, The Big Sleep featured a long exposition scene featuring police detective Bernie Ohls (Regis Toomey) explaining the more obscure plot details. This expository scene was ultimately sacrificed, along with several others, in favor of building up Bacall's part; for instance, a climactic sequence was reshot to emphasize sexual electricity between Bogart and Bacall, obliging Warners to replace a supporting player who'd gone on to another project. The end result was one of the most famously baffling film noirs but also one of the most successful in sheer star power. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse
Edward G. Robinson shines in a fine comic role as Dr. Clitterhouse, a brilliant psychiatrist doing research into the criminal mind. The good doctor wants to gain a clearer understanding of how a thief feels when he's in the midst of a robbery, so strictly for academic purposes he tries to crack a safe at a high society party to which he's been invited. While trying to get rid of the jewels he swiped in the course of this experiment, Clitterhouse makes the acquaintance of "Rocks" Valentine (Humphrey Bogart), the tough-as-nails leader of a group of professional thieves. Clitterhouse is fascinated by Valentine and discovers that he enjoys committing robberies, so he joins forces with Valentine's gang and uses his superior intellect to mastermind a series of daring and profitable heists. Clitterhouse is also beguiled by Jo Keller (Claire Trevor), a beautiful dame who fences stolen gems. But Valentine doesn't appreciate how Dr. Clitterhouse has worked his way into the gang, and he is soon looking for an opportunity to get him out of the picture. The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse was co-written by John Huston and features several key members of the Warner Brothers stock company in supporting roles, including Allen Jenkins and Donald Crisp. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

They Drive by Night
They just don't make 'em like They Drive By Night anymore. This slam-bang Warner Bros. attraction stars George Raft and Humphrey Bogart as Joe and Paul Fabrini, owners of a small but scrappy trucking firm. The film deftly combines comedy with thrills for the first half-hour or so, as the Fabrini boys battle crooked distributors and unscrupulous rivals while establishing their transport company. Things take a potentially tragic turn when the overworked Paul Fabrini falls asleep at the wheel and cracks up, losing an arm in the accident. He's pretty bitter for a while, but, with the help of his loving wife, Pearl (Gale Page), Paul eventually snaps out of his self-pity and goes to work as a dispatcher for the Fabrinis' company. Meanwhile, Joe's on-and-off romance with wisecracking waitress Cassie Hartley (Ann Sheridan) is threatened by the presence of seductive Lana Carlsen (Ida Lupino), the wife of glad-handing trucking executive Ed Carlsen (Alan Hale). At this point, the film metamorphoses into a remake of the 1935 Paul Muni-Bette Davis vehicle Bordertown. Desperately in love with Joe, Lana murders her husband, making it look like an accident, then offers Joe half-interest in Carlsen's organization. Joe accepts the offer, but spurns Lana's romantic overtures, whereupon the scheming vixen accuses Joe of plotting Carlsen's murder. Thus, the stage is set for a spectacular courtroom finale, completely dominated by a demented Lana, whose "mad scene" rivals those of Ophelia and Lucia di Lammermoor. In addition to the full-blooded performances by the stars and the virile direction by Raoul Walsh, They Drive By Night benefits immeasurably from the nonstop brilliant dialogue by Jerry Wald and Richard Macaulay -- especially in an early lunch-counter scene between Ann Sheridan and George Raft, generously seasoned with hilarious double- and single-entendres. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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