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TomJH

Bogart Vs. Cagney Vs. Robinson

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Three recommendations, what to do?  Often what I try to do in buying books is check out ebay for used books being sold by a charitable organization like Goodwill. I can get the book quite cheap and they are always in decent condition. And when making the purchase you can add a donation amount to the  group, which I gladly do.  So I have three books on the way, to all, thanks for the advise.

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The best written bio of Bogie is "BOGART-In Search of My Father", authored by his son, Steven Bogart. It was published in 1993 and gives more insight on Bogie than all other books. After all, who would know the man better than his own son? Also foreworded by his widow, Lauren Bacall.

Interesting that in Ben's outro for LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, he mentioned that the Cooper-Audrey pairing lacked credibility because Cooper looked so wasted, and also mentioned that Bogart was even older than Cooper when paired with Audrey in SABRINA. I would add, though, that he didn't look quite as wasted as Cooper.

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Interesting that in Ben's outro for LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, he mentioned that the Cooper-Audrey pairing lacked credibility because Cooper looked so wasted, and also mentioned that Bogart was even older than Cooper when paired with Audrey in SABRINA. I would add, though, that he didn't look quite as wasted as Cooper.

Many of those Golden age actors looked older by the 1950s. Gable, Tracy, Flynn, etc. were heavy drinkers as were Bogart and Cooper. 20+ years of hard alcohol will age a man (or woman). William Holden, Marion Davies, Joan Crawford, the list goes on, all battled the bottle and looked older in time.

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I suspect that one of the reasons that Cagney liked to hang out with an eternal optimist like Pat O'Brien, a man constantly joking around, was that he would be a good antidote for his own inclination toward mood swings.

 

Hah...never knew that before. Makes sense, then, that I can't stand O'Brien and love Cagney. Not to mention that Cagney is one of the best actors who ever lived.

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TomHJ- I read many books on Cagney and I know in his later years[80's] he probably was unhappy most people are due to sickness, age ect.. I was talking about Cagney as a young man. He loved nature, life and had many hobbies. Many who knew Cagney enjoyed his company. Usually many people who drink alot and seem happy aren't. They drink to cover up their unhappiness. Cagney didn't drink, he enjoyed life and was not moody. Quiet at times and maybe faraway but that don't mean one is moody.

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Interesting that in Ben's outro for LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON, he mentioned that the Cooper-Audrey pairing lacked credibility because Cooper looked so wasted, and also mentioned that Bogart was even older than Cooper when paired with Audrey in SABRINA. I would add, though, that he didn't look quite as wasted as Cooper.

 

I've said the following before around here...

 

While I've always loved Bogie in almost everything he was ever in, he was sorely miscast in Sabina, and his role should have been played by Robert Taylor instead.

 

(...'cause I can see Audrey falling for him in the end, and have never found her falling for Bogie believable in the least)

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One big reason that James Cagney had an aversion to alcohol was his experience with his own father, whose life was destroyed by excessive drinking.

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One big reason that James Cagney had an aversion to alcohol was his experience with his own father, whose life was destroyed by excessive drinking.

I had assumed that one of the highlights of the "Irish Mafia's" get-togethers was consumption of alcohol.

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On Tuesday June 10th starting at 8 pm est TCM is showing WOMAN IN THE WINDOW followed by SCARLET STREET, both films directed by Fritz Lang and starring Edward G Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea.  I have referenced my copy of Eddie's autobiography ALL MY YESTERDAYS to read what he had to say about these films, both of which are today considered first rate film noirs. Eddie has little to say about the films (the impression he leaves is that neither film was a pleasant experience).  When making the first film, WOMAN IN THE WINDOW,  Robinson was badgered by some people in the cast (he won't mention specific names, he was always hesitant to get too personal in his comments about others) about his "Communist sympathies".  As mentioned before on this thread  Robinson's "Communist leanings" were only a result of his intense dislike of Hitler and the Nazi policies that dated before the war even started.  And of course during the war the Soviets were supposed to be our allies in the fight against Hitler. But there could never be any question about Robinson's love of his adopted American home or his patriotic efforts  to support the allied war effort.  Robinson went to Britain for some military film work and was entertaining troops on the front  right after the D Day invasion.  About SCARLET STREET,  it's noted for having a similar story line as the previous WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and  Robinson saw it as such. He referred to the second film as "monotonous" and couldn't wait to finish it and move on. But one thing that can never be said about EGR, he never gave less than 100% effort on a film project.

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On Tuesday June 10th starting at 8 pm est TCM is showing WOMAN IN THE WINDOW followed by SCARLET STREET, both films directed by Fritz Lang and starring Edward G Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea.  I have referenced my copy of Eddie's autobiography ALL MY YESTERDAYS to read what he had to say about these films, both of which are today considered first rate film noirs. Eddie has little to say about the films (the impression he leaves is that neither film was a pleasant experience).  When making the first film, WOMAN IN THE WINDOW,  Robinson was badgered by some people in the cast (he won't mention specific names, he was always hesitant to get too personal in his comments about others) about his "Communist sympathies".  As mentioned before on this thread  Robinson's "Communist leanings" were only a result of his intense dislike of Hitler and the Nazi policies that dated before the war even started.  And of course during the war the Soviets were supposed to be our allies in the fight against Hitler. But there could never be any question about Robinson's love of his adopted American home or his patriotic efforts  to support the allied war effort.  Robinson went to Britain for some military film work and was entertaining troops on the front  right after the D Day invasion.  About SCARLET STREET,  it's noted for having a similar story line as the previous WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and  Robinson saw it as such. He referred to the second film as "monotonous" and couldn't wait to finish it and move on. But one thing that can never be said about EGR, he never gave less than 100% effort on a film project.

I question whether an actor who finds a film monotonous and can't wait to finish it will give his best performance, even if he fells he's giving 100% effort.

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About SCARLET STREET,  it's noted for having a similar story line as the previous WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and  Robinson saw it as such. He referred to the second film as "monotonous" and couldn't wait to finish it and move on. But one thing that can never be said about EGR, he never gave less than 100% effort on a film project.

I'm quite surprised, mrroberts, that Robinson appeared to have so little regard for the two Fritz Lang films, even if he did find filming uncomfortable during one and monotonous during the other, since both productions enjoy such solid reputations.

 

Then, again, Cagney always sent mixed messages about his feelings about White Heat, so you can never take anything for granted and that includes the feelings that an actor may have about one of the biggest hits of his career. (Another illustration: Errol Flynn never expressed much admiration for the swashbucklers that had made him famous. He loved the money and affluent lifestyle that they gained him, of course, but he was curiously always silent about what he thought of the films themselves).

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With regards to Scarlet Street;  EGR role in the film is somewhat boring.    Of course the plot is all about his character but the juice in the film is really provided by Bennett and Duryea.    So maybe EGR just had enough of paying a weak character and was more interested in playing a role that had more fire.

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Hey,  welcome back James.  My previous posting was only referencing Eddie's own words from his book. I believe you are on the right track in that Robinson always took his work seriously so his "monotonous" comment was a way of expressing a desire for a more challenging, interesting character to play. That doesn't necessarily mean that he still wouldn't give any performance his best effort, I don't think he could function any other way.  And keep in mind that these are his thoughts when reflecting back on his entire life and career. We all often look at things in a different light when we review our past actions.  In his own review he was often more critical of himself and more generous or forgiving of others.

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Tomorrow morning on TCM (7 am est) there is 12 hours  (8 films) of non stop Edward G Robinson action from the 1930's.  It must be Eddie's birthday !  ;)  And there are guest appearances from Mr Bogart and Mr Cagney.  And in SMART MONEY , the only Robinson/ Cagney teaming,  there is my personal favorite pre code gal, Noel Francis!

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Tomorrow morning on TCM (7 am est) there is 12 hours  (8 films) of non stop Edward G Robinson action from the 1930's.  It must be Eddie's birthday !  ;)  

One of the positives about tomorrow's selection of Robinson films is that some of them are fairly uncommon to see.

 

Eddie G. fans will have a hard time finding the likes of pre-coders like The Widow from Chicago, Tiger Shark, I Loved a Woman or Dark Hazard anywhere else. Bravo, TCM!

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Tomorrow morning on TCM (7 am est) there is 12 hours  (8 films) of non stop Edward G Robinson action from the 1930's.  It must be Eddie's birthday !  ;)  And there are guest appearances from Mr Bogart and Mr Cagney.  And in SMART MONEY , the only Robinson/ Cagney teaming,  there is my personal favorite pre code gal, Noel Francis!

 

TCM use of genre in the scheduling screen is strange.   Kid Galahad is listed as an adventure film.   Say what?   Because the boxer goes to the country?   Ok, I can see that some might say the film isn't a crime film but Bogie is a gangster (with a name like Turkey, what else could he be!).    Still more of a drama then an adventure film.    Either way a first class WB movie.   One can't go wrong with Robinson, Bette Davis and Bogie as well as a fine WB supporting cast.

 

I'm looking forward to The Last Gangster with Jimmy Stewart.      I have seen the other films but yea, Smart Money is a good film.

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I was finally able to see a copy of a rare Cagney film tied up in litigation that seems to prevent television broadcasts, as well as a DVD release. Come Fill the Cup features an older Cagney as a newspaperman whose once stellar journalistic career has been ruined by drink.

 

A Warners release of 1951, it's a strong, intelligent drama, made six years after Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend had received critical plaudits and awards for its serious depiction of alcoholism. Cagney delivers an effectively understated performance, even in the scenes in which he is a drunk staggering down the mean streets looking for a drink in any bar that will have him.

 

comefillthecup_zps15c4e908.jpg

 

Cagney's underplaying (marvelous to watch him in the film's opening scene in which, with a small half smile on his face, he walks stiff legged across the news room, trying his best to disguise his inebriation) has all the more impact in the one scene in the film which the actor plays with full force. That's a scene in which, while weeping, he repeatedly slaps and finally knocks down Gig Young, whose character takes the punishment because he knows he has it coming.

 

Young received an Academy Award nomination for his role, and it's easy to see why. As the talented but spoiled rich man who has turned into a drunk, Young brings a charm to his character that makes you sympathize with him. But his big scene in the film, that when his character goes cold turkey, can only be described as harrowing. I'm sure that any viewer who has battled addiction (or known someone else who has) will identify strongly with Young's plight in this scene. I can't think of a stronger piece of acting that I have ever seen from this actor than in this scene.

 

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It's a genuine pleasure, too, to watch the on screen chemistry between Cagney and one of my favourite character actors, the great James Gleason. The latter plays a member of AA who has Cagney move in with him. Gleason brings, beneath his superficially crusty appearance, a sensitivity and understanding to the plight of those plagued with the demons of drink.

 

At times, too, the screenplay provides some good dialogue, such as that moment in which Cagney, referring to a reformed drunk, says, "Oh, we drunks, we're either in a gutter or wearing a halo."

 

Come Fill the Cup has its flaws. Phyllis Thaxter fails to make much of an impression as the news woman who tries to be supportive to Cagney. It's been pointed out by others that a gutsier kind of "dame" actress, like an Ann Sheridan or Ida Lupino, would have been more effective, and it's difficult to argue against that assessment.

 

The final quarter hour or so of the film also loses sight of its tale of addiction, concentrating, instead upon newsman Cagney trying to nail a gangster (Sheldon Leonard).

 

But these are minor flaws in an overall strong film that clearly ranks as one of Cagney's better efforts during the '50s. 

 

Here's a You Tube clip from the film, with Cagney explaining to a bartender all the excuses that a drunk needs to drink:

 

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I'm sorry---but most of us know it was NO STRETCH for Gig Young to play a drunk!  Some MIGHT call it "type casting"!, And there WAS no guarantee he was sober while making this movie.

 

But, in spite of the razzing, Young WAS often underrated, as many of his movie roles over the years didn't call for thespian leveled performances, and were typical "throw-away" type characters,---the leading man's old buddy, or, the smart alec co-worker of the lead, The "never gets the gal" skirt chaser or some such rot.  And he was GOOD at it.  It's juast that, with much of America familiar with Gig's lesser roles, seeing him in MEATIER roles comes as a shock to many.  A PLEASANT shock, to be sure, but surprising nonetheless.  There WERE many (if not MOST) Americans actually SURPRISED at Gig's tremendous performance in THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?  "Man!  I didn't KNOW he could ACT that good!"

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Tomorrow night  (Tuesday) at 8 pm est TCM is airing THE HARDER THEY FALL, Humphrey Bogart's last film.  Made in 1956 its a hard hitting story of corruption and exploitation  in the world of professional boxing .Bogart plays a writer who at first plays along with  corrupt promoters but he eventually develops a conscience and takes a courageous stand. In spite of his failing health, Bogart  delivers a fine performance here. Its a night of boxing films on TCM, and at 3am est  KID GALAHAD airs and Bogie costars with Edward G Robinson and Bette Davis.  This film is typical  of 30's Warner Brothers gangster flicks, but the 1st rate cast makes it work well.

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Tomorrow night  (Tuesday) at 8 pm est TCM is airing THE HARDER THEY FALL, Humphrey Bogart's last film.  Made in 1956 its a hard hitting story of corruption and exploitation  in the world of professional boxing .Bogart plays a writer who at first plays along with  corrupt promoters but he eventually develops a conscience and takes a courageous stand. In spite of his failing health, Bogart  delivers a fine performance here. Its a night of boxing films on TCM, and at 3am est  KID GALAHAD airs and Bogie costars with Edward G Robinson and Bette Davis.  This film is typical  of 30's Warner Brothers gangster flicks, but the 1st rate cast makes it work well.

I really liked The Harder They Fall.  I may be biased, because I'm a sucker for sports movies (especially boxing!) but I thought this was a great film and I'm glad that Bogart was able to end his career with a respectable film and not like some actors whose last film is unfortunately a stinker.  I really liked the grittiness of the film and I really liked Bogart's good guy character. 

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I certainly agree with the comments of both mrroberts and Speedracer regarding THE HARDER THEY FALL on TCM tonight. It's a hard hitting expose of the criminal element in the fight racket, with Bogart giving a fine account of himself as a cynical but financially hungry newspaper man who sells out to the mob (personified by Rod Steiger) in promoting an oversized stiff as a great boxer. Bogie makes the later change in his character's behaviour completely convincing.

 

The film is an adaption of Budd Schulberg's novel of the same name, based on the real life story of the Mob-connected Primo Carnera, a giant Italian import who became heavyweight champion during the dirty '30s.

 

Most interesting is the casting in the film of two former heavyweight champions (and what does that say about their own take on corruption in boxing?), Max Baer and Jersey Joe Walcott. Walcott was a "cutie" veteran, good enough to "lose" a decision to an aging Joe Louis that most ringsiders thought he won, who would later gain a sort of infamy by adding to the chaos in the ring the 1965 night he was referee when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston with his "phantom" punch. (Liston, of course, was always associated with the Mob, his own mysterious 1969 death speculated by some to have been a Mob hit).

 

Max Baer plays champion Buddy Brannen in The Harder They Fall as a vicious thug who enjoys inflicting pain on his opponents, and boasts of his previoius beating of a boxer being responsible for that man's death after he collapses and dies following a fight with Toro (played by big Mike Lane, the Carnera-based character).

 

The irony of all this is that Baer is playing a variation on his own real life self here, since many claimed that a boxer "killed" as a result of a fight with Carnera in fact really died because of a severe beating previously administered to him in the ring by Max Baer.

 

I have to wonder how Baer felt about playing Brannen in that respect, because, while vicious in the ring and a pulverizing right hand, Baer, outside the ring, was a fun loving clown who loved to joke around and was emotionally distraught over the death of the boxer, not the fiend who gloats about it in The Harder They Fall.

 

Baer even had an element of Muhammad Ali in him, as he was a natural showman, and was good for a funny quote for the press. (Among the great one liners he had, and I'm paraphrasing here, is "Fear is seeing Joe Louis across the ring from you and knowing Joe's in a hurry to get home to dinner"-Baer wouldn't make it past the fourth round with Joe).

 

Baer was also a bit of a playboy, and among his paramours was, reportedly, Greta Garbo. The boy got around.

 

A further element of interest that I might add here. On occasion TCM shows a 1933 MGM film, The Prizefighter and the Lady, starring Myrna Loy. Well, both Max Baer and Primo Carnera appear in that production as variations on their real life selves as boxers. At one very interesting point in the film Baer and Carnera "box" one another in the ring.

 

Well, when this film was made Carnera was heavyweight champ, and Baer was a heavily promoted contender. Both boxers knew when they staged this film fight that they would be meeting in the ring for real soon. I have to seriously wonder how much they were feeling each other out of the film set and, perhaps, testing one another for their upcoming match.

 

As it turns out, they later fought the same year that the film was made, with Baer winning by knockout in the 11th round. Carnera would be hospitalized because of the fight, with Baer visiting him. Typical Baer the clown, though, when he saw Carnera's feet sticking out at the end of the bed (they couldn't find a bed long enough for the giant boxer), Max started to play "this little piggie went to market" with Primo's big toes.

 

Max Baer died of a heart attack at Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel three years after filming The Harder They Fall. Right to the end though be was joking around with the doctor and those around him. After feeling the first pain in his chest, Baer called the hotel clerk for a doctor. When the clerk said he'd send up the hotel doctor, Baer couldn't help himself and responded, "No, dummy, I want a people doctor." Reportedly Baer's last words, before slumping to his side, were, "Oh, God, here I go."

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Here's an interesting thought concerning Humphrey Bogart that I don't think has been brought up previously on this, or any other thread.  If the big C hadn't come along and taken this man at age 57 what would his future film career have  been like?. As we  discussed on other threads, some people like Bogart ( ie, Spencer Tracy) were rather adamant about getting  lead billing on any film project.  So how much longer could Bogart have been able to rate "top billing" in a film? Would he start settling for being a supporting actor (which I can envision him doing very well at like Edward G, Fredric March, etc) or would Bogart start making lesser films so he could still be the star attraction?  That may have been part of the reason why actors like Cary Grant and James Cagney decided to just retire when they did. Some other big names like Gary Cooper and Clark Gable never had to face making those choices, like Humphrey Bogart.

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Here's an interesting thought concerning Humphrey Bogart that I don't think has been brought up previously on this, or any other thread.  If the big C hadn't come along and taken this man at age 57 what would his future film career have  been like?. As we  discussed on other threads, some people like Bogart ( ie, Spencer Tracy) were rather adamant about getting  lead billing on any film project.  So how much longer could Bogart have been able to rate "top billing" in a film? Would he start settling for being a supporting actor (which I can envision him doing very well at like Edward G, Fredric March, etc) or would Bogart start making lesser films so he could still be the star attraction?  That may have been part of the reason why actors like Cary Grant and James Cagney decided to just retire when they did. Some other big names like Gary Cooper and Clark Gable never had to face making those choices, like Humphrey Bogart.

If Bogart could set ego aside, I could see him being great in ensemble pieces like 12 Angry Men or Judgement at Nuremberg or something like that.  I don't know if he'd be able to keep up the lead billing into the 1960s with the likes of Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford becoming big stars.  I think Bogart, unless he was somehow able to keep up with the changing times would end up becoming somewhat of a relic.  He'd be good though if he stepped back and took some juicy supporting roles like Edward G. Robinson did.  However, I could also see him and Bacall teaming up again in another film.  I don't know what type, but I think that it would have been really fun-- maybe in a 1960s caper film or something.

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Hmmmm...perhaps..."I Never Sang For My Father"(1970) starring Humphrey Bogart and James Dean?

 

(...well, seein' as how we're 'resurrecting the dead' here, I figured why not throw in the kid who would've been 40 by then here too!) ;)

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