The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes – The Science Fictional Humphrey Bogart

Bogart_ReturnPoster2Swing over to Black Gate for my latest Monday installment. I look at not one of the better films from my favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart. Here’s a preview…

Into the nineteen fifties, Hollywood operated under the studio system. A few major movie studios owned both the production and distribution channels and dominated the industry.

They cranked out “B” pictures to provide product to support the “A” films and keep the theaters they owned filled.

Actors, especially non-stars, made several films a year, either appearing higher in the credits on B films or as supporting actors in A movies. Those actors had very little power in the system as well.

In 1936, Humphrey Bogart (who had already twice failed to stick in Hollywood) received his first critical acclaim for The Petrified Forest, in which he recreated his Broadway role as gangster Duke Mantee.

He would really strike it big in 1941 with first, High Sierra, and then The Maltese Falcon  (if you haven’t seen this one,  rent it tonight and then leave an apology comment on this post for waiting so long). In the five years between Forest and Sierra he appeared in twenty-nine films: most not as the star.

Bogart famously said, “I made more lousy pictures than any actor in history.” This was because Warner Brothers tossed him into every low budget B movie they could.

Sometimes it was so bad that he refused the part, which then got him suspended without pay. That’s why you see Dennis Morgan and not Bogie in the awful western, Bad Men of Missouri (with Wayne Morris starring – see below).

Bogie, in a career with over eighty credits and possibly the greatest star in film history, made only one horror/science fiction movie. And he considered it one of his worst. He’s got a point.


His sixth film in 1939 was The Return of Doctor X. It had nothing to do with 1932’s risqué Doctor X: Warner Brothers was just trying to cash in on the earlier movie.

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