Saturday, August 28, 2010

“A Hero in an Antihero’s Trench Coat”

Just over a week after author Kelli Stanley championed two of Humphrey Bogart’s motion pictures on this page, self-proclaimed “movie geek” Jake Hinkson has delivered an excellent tribute to Bogie in his own blog, The Night Editor. Hinkson writes, in part:
He’s one of the great noir actors--his best film is one of the greatest noirs of all, In a Lonely Place--but he was too heroic to really embody the noir ethos. For that you need Robert Mitchum. Bogart wouldn’t play the sap for anyone. Mitchum had sap tattooed across his big handsome forehead. Mitchum, in other words, was an antihero.

Bogart was a hero in an antihero’s trench coat. The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep and Casablanca aren’t just great movies, they’re instruction for how to live a life of integrity and style. That Bogart didn’t live up to these principals in real life is as ultimately inconsequential as John Wayne’s dodging military service. As actors, their job was to act. Make us laugh or cry or cringe or--this is the tough one--make us aspire to a certain code of behavior.

He explored his dark side in films like In a Lonely Place, The Two Mrs. Carrolls and The Treasure of Sierra the Madre, but he was first and foremost “Bogie,” a figure as heroic and iconic as John Wayne or Gary Cooper. He was more urban than Wayne or Cooper, more gritty than Cary Grant. He fit, in many ways, Chandler’s conception of the character of Philip Marlowe (whom he played in The Big Sleep), the tarnished white knight.
You can enjoy the entirety of Hinkson’s piece here.

1 comment:

kathy d. said...

Wait a second. We're missing some other great movies where Humphrey Bogart plays a man of integrity.

"To Have and Have Not," where his character helps the French Resistance against the Nazis.

"Key Large," where Bogart plays the man of integrity, honesty, scruples against the sadistic criminal played by Edward G. Robinson. What a pair! Great to watch the two facing off against each other, with Bogart representing fairness and justice.

Recently saw those two movies again years after having seen them. They are both terrific and Bogart is the right guy for the roles.