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Humphrey Bogart: Behind the Legend (1994)

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9 June 1994 (USA)  »

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Humphrey DeForest Bogart Faces Many Challenges
21 June 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Harry Smith hosts and Larry Robinson narrates this episode detailing the life and career of Humphrey DeForest Bogart, entitled "Humphrey Bogart: Behind the Legend."

Eldest child of Maud Humphrey Bogart and Belmont DeForest Bogart, Humphrey DeForest Bogart arrives in 1899, in New York City, before his two sisters, Pat and Kay.

While Belmont serves in the capacity of a Surgeon, Maud, a stern disciplinarian, illustrates print advertising and creates from infant model Humphrey "Baby Dimple" for a baby food label.

Bullies at Manhattan's Trinity School would constantly pick on Baby Dimple Humphrey throughout his formative years, which wouldn't prepare the child for a fondness for schooling, as he now enrolls in the prestigious Phillips Academy preparatory school, in Andover, Massachusetts, but from which he is eventually expelled, which, of course, does not sit very well with his mother, as his parents had been planning to enroll Humphrey at Yale University.

Well, the U.S. involvement in World War I occurs by now, and so Humphrey enlists in the Navy, in 1918, to head to Europe, when a blast of shrapnel injures his face and mouth, causing the scar and the resulting lisp characteristic of his speech pattern.

Upon Humphrey's Naval discharge, Belmont lines up for him a series of career positions in Business firms along Wall Street, but Humphrey resigns from each and every last one, before turning his attention to a position as an office boy for a Broadway producer, and understudying in a theatre road show, catching the acting bug in the process.

In 1922, 190 new shows open on Broadway, a factor which ought to improve the odds of Humphrey Bogart's receiving casting calls, but he struggles for years to come, on stage, through three difficult marriages (one wife even stabs him) and with the loss of his father and younger sister, while his other sister experiences difficult challenges, before Humphrey achieves stardom and meets the great love of his life.

He travels to Hollywood after the Great Depression devastates the stages, but returns to Broadway after film roles for Humphrey seem inconsequential. But soon, he manages to secure two plum theatre roles, which finally receive recognition for Humphrey.

Humphrey Bogart performs in a number of Broadway plays between 1922 and 1935, for which he receives the greatest recognition of his stage career in his latter two productions: "Invitation to a Murder" (1934) and "The Petrified Forest" (1935).

It is actor Leslie Howard who gives Warner Bros. Studios an ultimatum. Unless they hire Humphrey Bogart, Leslie would not star in the film version of The Petrified Forest (1936). Warner Bros. listens, and Bogart's star begins to rise.

And when Spencer Tracy assigns him the nickname of "Bogie," well the rest, as they say, is history.

Humphrey's marriages are with Helen Menken (1926–27), Mary Philips (1928–37), Mayo Methot (1938–45), and Lauren Bacall (whom he marries in 1945). With Lauren, he welcomes two children, Stephen and Leslie.

Interview Guests for this episode consist of Lauren Bacall (Wife/actress), Theodore Bikel (Actor), Rod Steiger (Actor), John Huston (Director), Julius Epstein (Screenwriter), Joe Hyams (Biographer), Alistair Cooke (Journalist), Jeffrey Lyons (Film Critic), and Michael Medved (Film Critic/Radio Show Host), with Harry Smith (Host) and Larry Robinson (Narrator).

Still Photographs include Humphrey Bogart, Belmont DeForest Bogart, Maud Humphrey Bogart, Helen Menken, Mary Philips, Mayo Methot, Lauren Bacall, Stephen Bogart, Leslie Bogart, Spencer Tracy, Leslie Howard, Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, George Raft, Jack Warner and Frank Sinatra.

Archive film footage includes Humphrey Bogart, Ann Dvorak, Dick Brandon, Leslie Howard, Charles Wilson, Mayo Methot, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Dooley Wilson, Edward G. Robinson, Katharine Hepburn, Jennifer Jones, plus several unidentified performers.

Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Humphrey Bogart through the years, in scenes from Three on a Match (1932), The Petrified Forest (1936), Dead End (1937), They Drive by Night (1940), High Sierra (1941), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), Key Largo (1948), The African Queen (1951), Beat the Devil (1953), and The Desperate Hours (1955), as well as his interview on "Person to Person: Episode #2.1" (1954), plus a radio interview with Humphrey (1947), and Katharine Hepburn's interview on "The Dick Cavett Show" (1973), and Newsreel coverage of Lauren and Humphrey's traveling to D.C. to testify before the HUAC (1948) (plus a 1945 clip of their wedding reception).


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