Mystique: Humphrey Bogart, the Peak Years

August 4, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Humphrey Bogart 1941

Humphrey Bog­art 1941

From hard-boiled Sam Spade to cyn­i­cal Rick Blaine, from wise crack­ing shamus Philip Mar­lowe to down-on-his-luck Fred C. Dobbs, Humphrey Bog­art cre­ated a gallery of unfor­get­table char­ac­ters. Appear­ing in over 75 films, span­ning 26 years, Bog­art left an indeli­ble mark on Amer­i­can cinema.

Humphrey Bogart’s early career was hardly note­wor­thy. His roles ranged from rich play­boys to seedy hood­lums. In the film The Pet­ri­fied For­est (1936), Bog­art, on the insis­tence of his Broad­way co-star Leslie Howard, re-created his role of the cold-blooded killer Duke Man­tee. The film was a huge suc­cess and gave a tremen­dous boost to his career. Although his imme­di­ate roles remained con­strained to the hood­lums, and mal­con­tents he had por­trayed prior to The Pet­ri­fied For­est , he remained stead­fast in his pur­suit of excellence.

By 1941 Humphrey Bog­art was on the verge of cin­e­matic promi­nence. His sub­se­quent and now cel­e­brated roles were about to gar­ner Bog­art the accep­tance and adu­la­tion he so des­per­ately craved. A recog­ni­tion he rel­ished, as he set out for­tu­itously to cre­ate the now famous “Bog­art ” mys­tique, which would dom­i­nate the screen for the next decade. He was to remark later that there were few things about which he could feel gen­uine pride, and the 1941 clas­sic The Mal­tese Fal­con, was one of them. Read more