Humphrey Bogart made three very different types of movies in 1954. The second, Sabrina, was a light-hearted romantic comedy, while the third, The Barefoot Contessa, was a ponderous, garish melodrama. The first film he made that year was a big budget, gripping drama, which netted him his third Oscar nomination (he lost out to Marlon Brando). Lieutenant Commander Philip Francis Queeg found himself on the wrong side of The Caine Mutiny.
As usual, Bogart was battling with Jack Warner, head of Warner Brothers, over roles. Fresh off the mess that was Beat the Devil, Bogie wanted to star in the adaptation of Herman Wouk’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. He won, which put him to work for Columbia Pictures, not Warners.
Bogart really wanted the part and Columbia President Harry Cohn actually low-balled his offer, which Bogie accepted, though he was seething inside. The movie was produced by Edward Dmtryk, one of the infamous ‘Hollywood Ten,’ who served jail time before naming names. Initially, Dmtryk wasn’t allowed onto a naval base or ship because of his record and the US Navy had to be convinced to change its stance towards him.
Last March, I did a post on Robert E. Howard’s hard-boiled private eye, Steve Harrison, for ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ over at BlackGate.com. I’m a big Howard fan, but I’m not qualified to write about too many aspects of his work. But I thought it would be neat to have others who were contribute to a series covering all kinds of different areas. Paul Bishop agreed to do a piece on Howard’s boxing stories and Discovering Robert E. Howard was born.
Some of the best and brightest names in the world of Robert E. Howard contributed, with the latest (and just about the last) appearing today. This post by Dr. Fred Ward on Almuric also has links to the previous posts in the series.
I am quite pleased to say that the series was nominated for The Black River – Special Achievement Award for the 2016 Robert E. Howard Foundation Awards. Now, I only wrote 3 of the 33 posts we tagged in the series at Black Gate. So, this isn’t a nomination for me. It’s a recognition of the great contributions from almost two dozen people, sharing their expertise on one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. The series was a treat to read and I’m pleased I helped put it together.
Black Gate was also nominated for the best website.
I thoroughly enjoyed Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward’s re-read of the Del Rey Conan books, which is nominated in the same category. I even voted for it myself (I’m a Foundation member). So if that wins, I don’t think it diminishes what we all accomplished with the series. Heck, the other nominee, Rob Roehm, was busy with his own great stuff and steered me to Bobby Derie, who contributed a fine piece.
There were a few more posts I wanted to include in the series that didn’t quite happen, so I have hopes of a mini Discovering Robert E. Howard follow-up later this year. As the great Inspector Clouseau said, “We shall see what we shall see.”
Last week, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looked at The Maltese Falcon: primarily focusing on Bogart’s 1941 classic film. Well, that gave me the opportunity to follow it up with one of my own favorite essays.
Warner Brothers signed Raft in 1939 and Jack Warner expected him to be the company’s biggest star. Humphrey Bogart was a supporting actor who usually got gunned down by the hero and occasionally snagged the lead in a minor B picture. Through a series of just terrible casting decisions, George Raft completely torpedoed his career while turning Bogart into Bogie. Dead End, High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon – Raft was his own worst enemy.
If you’re a Bogart fan, you really should head on over to Black Gate and see the details: I couldn’t make this stuff up!
Today over at Black Gate, ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ has a post on one of my favorite books and movies, The Maltese Falcon. The main discussion is about Humphrey Bogart’s 1941 film version, which presaged the advent of film noir. But I talk about a lot of other stuff related to this great topic.
If you’ve never read the book, you’re missing out on the finest private eye novel yet written. And the third adaptation, written and directed by John Huston, is brilliant.
Next week, I’ll post about the string of bad choices George Raft made that helped launch ‘Bogie.’
If you’ve visited SolarPons. com (and you have, right???), you know that the heart of the site are the Case Commentaries on the August Derleth stories. Some day, I’ll get to the Copper tales! Well, I gave The Bruce Partington Plans the Case Commentary treatment a few weeks ago for The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes.
Then, it was a look at Sherlock Holmes on film before the Stoll series starring Eille Norwood. With a few exceptions (need to bone up on Clive Brook), I’ve written a pretty informative history of Holmes films up to Basil Rathbone.
Last week, I shared ‘Why Solar Pons’, my favorite self-penned piece of Pons writing.
I’m a fan of the Pathfinder role playing game system. I asked Dave Gross, author of the latest Pathfinder novel, to write a guest post on his series starring Varrian Jegarre and Radovan. He wrote an amusing post on how he pitched this series, which is a mix of fantasy and mystery. He mentions Holmes and Watson all over it.
And I’m happy to say that the first post in the three-part look at Granada’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was the second-most popular post on Black Gate in May (out of 128). The second in the series was seventeenth: folks still love Jeremy Brett!
Tomorrow, I move back into the hard boiled genre with the man who invented it, Carroll John Daly.
Two weeks ago, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes wrote about Arthur Wontner, one of my top three Holmes’. He deserves to be better remembered.
And last week, I looked at three cases in which Dr. Watson filled in for Holmes with some detective work. Holmes was a bit harsh.
You probably heard last week that they found a copy of William Gillette’s ‘no longer lost’ 1916 silent film he made of his own famous play. Well, we are nothing if not on the ball here at The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes. I had a Gillette article all lined up and ready to go! Click on over,
And don’t forget to check back for a Throw Back Thursday article. This week it’s the Wontner piece I mentioned previously (it got bumped last week for a Jeremy Brett item).
Peter Haining’s The Sherlock Holmes Scrapbook reprints a story from the June 12, 1965 Evening Mail with the title, The Case of the Unknown Sherlock. It was accompanied by this picture.
In 1914, George Pearson was filming A Study in Scarlet for the Samuelson Film Company in England. As he said: I particularly wanted someone who fitted the image of Sherlock Holmes – tall, thin, narrow-faced and so on, and I couldn’t find anyone that looked the part. And then I remembered this man in Samuelson’s Birmingham office. He wasn’t an actor, but I was able to direct him all the time you see, because it was a silent film, and it worked very well.
The film has not survived and only some prints at the British Film Institute provided clues. But he remained the mystery Holmes.
The article mentions that Holmes film expert Michael Pointer had spent years trying to identify the man but had given up. However, by the time Pointer published The Sherlock Holmes File in 1976, he had identified the man as James Bragington. And he was, as Pearson had said, an accountant at Samuelson’s Birmingham office, employed for one silent film and then sent back to his ledgers.
The film (which focused far more on the Utah scenes and Mormon story line than on London and Holmes) did well enough that Samuelson made The Valley of Fear in 1916. However, this time he used H. A. Saintsbury, arguably the greatest British stage Holmes of them all.