eBook review: Tough Without a Gun


10 Responses to “eBook review: Tough Without a Gun”

  1. GawainLavers says:

    Manhattan?  Bah.  San Francisco. In the fog.

  2. semiotix says:

    If you believe the AFI, Bogart is the greatest American film star of all time. Yes, his acting was rather monotone and his ability to play outside a rather narrow band of characters was slim. But Bogart represents an America that many of us are nostalgic for, hence his staying power.

    This is an interesting comment, not that I entirely disagree. He certainly had a limited range, but I’ve never thought this was such a terrible thing for an actor. Ted Williams was more or less incapable of hitting the ball anywhere other than directly at the second baseman, but it didn’t mean he was a bad hitter.

    Playing to type isn’t a bad thing if you do it well. One of the remarkable things about Bogart is how much he did with characters who were, on the page, about as lovable as a bag full of scorpions. His character in Treasure of the Sierra Madre starts out as a gullible, angry hobo and ends up as a psychotic thief and murderer, but you never actually recoil, even when you’re clearly not meant to feel any special sympathy for him. 

    As for nostalgia, I don’t know. It’s one thing to look back on the 50s as a glorious Golden Age of white picket fences and such, but none of Bogart’s movies actually took place there! On screen, he was always off in some desperate shithole being a pissy anti-hero. Great drama, but not exactly the sort of thing you wax nostalgic for. 

    • This comment made my day.

      I totally agree with you. I’m not at all trying to down play the incredible impact Bogie has onscreen or off. 

      I think my favorite Bogart scene is in Casablanca, where Maj. Strasser is questioning Rick on his political feelings:

      Major Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris? 
      Rick: It’s not particularly my beloved Paris. 
      Heinz: Can you imagine us in London? 
      Rick: When you get there, ask me! 
      Captain Renault: Hmmh! Diplomatist! 
      Major Strasser: How about New York? 
      Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

    • Jonathan Badger says:

      Yes, he was very good as Dobbs in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and also as Duke in “The Petrified Forest” — those were both very playing against type (although “Petrified Forest” was early enough that he didn’t have a type yet, I suppose). He actually had a wider range than he’s normally credited for; he just got type-cast as the wisecracking cynical hero.

  3. GawainLavers says:

    Speaking of the “tough without a gun”, it’s heartening to know that the American Movie Promotion industry’s obsession with inserting penis surrogates into their advertisements under any possible pretext has a long and glorious history (my favorite is the American trailer for “White”, which featured all 37 seconds of the movie that involved the main character carrying a tear gas gun):


    His blazing automatics!  All John Woo!  I bet he dives over a car in slow motion…

  4. I’m a huge fan of movie stars  – real ones mind – who embody a specific character or archetype from one picture to the next, over actors who disappear into various characters.  Give me Steve McQueen over Philip Seymour Hoffman any day of the week!

  5. sdmikev says:

    I’d love to read this, thanks for posting.
    I’m a big fan of Bogart.  I love how good he was at playing those tough characters.  I am particularly fond of his comedic timing… Not something always associated with him.
    And there never has been, nor will there ever will be a better screen chemistry as Bogart/Bacall.  Not possible.

  6. Preston Sturges says:

    Bogart like many men of that era seemed to have small bodies with large heads.

    As some of his detective characters he wasn’t cool and controlled he was an angry little man who wanted to corner powerful people and laugh and sneer in their faces, which heightened the tension.

    His weakest movies were the ones where he was inexplicably noble, and those were the one he tried to carry alone. 

    His real strength was that he usually had a terrific supporting cast of actors who were more talented than he was (Peter Lorre had more talent in his little finger). I always enjoyed Key Largo.  

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