Fictionalized by John Stanley & Kenn Davis
“Would you call yourself a character actor, Mr.Bogart?”
“I better have character. Character is the only thing a man ever has.”
Okay, HUMPHREY BOGART is not a private eye. Or a writer of private eye stories. He was an actor, for cryin’ out loud!
And yet, has anyone else so epitomized the private eye, in the public’s imagination? I mean, this is the man who played both Philip Marlowe AND Sam Spade, and a slew of other tough guys in a long and distinguished film career. And if that wasn’t enough, Bogart’s public persona could have been scripted by Chandler himself. Bogie was a man’s man, a man of honour and integrity, who stood by his pals (Take that, HUAC!), would take no fool’s insolence, and enjoyed a drink like any other yegg. And having Bacall (arguably the ultimate P.I. moll) hanging on his arm was just icing on the cake.
So, is it any wonder that Bogart has become a sort of icon for the private eye ideal, a sort of cultural short-hand that’s shown up in sources as varied as Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, John Wagner and Alan Grant’s The Bogie Man comic, or Andrew J. Fenady’s The Man With Bogart’s Face?
Or John Stanley & Kenn Davis’ Bogart ’48, a 1980 Dell paperback that envisions Bogey playing detective for real in 1940’s Hollywood.
I mean, hell, can’t you just see it?
It’s Hollywood, 1948, and Bogie is wrapping up filming Key Largo when he gets news that a friend of his has been shot dead. The studio mogul Harry Cohn talks to Bogie, and tells him he has reason to believe that the death of Johnny Hawks is tied in to a script, titled Hollywood Armageddon. Bogie knows of it since he was the one who had placed it on Cohn’s desk for a good friend of his named Dalt Brennan. But Brennan has disappeared and some people believe Brennan’s gone crazy and intends to blow up Shrine Auditorium on Oscar night, a disaster that mirrors the story in Brennan’s screenplay. Bogie has a hard time believing his friend capable of murder, but the facts don’t lie. Time is running out and Bogart’s got to find Brennan before it’s too late.
Why is it not even one copy of the screenplay can be found? And who’s that following Bogie in a dark blue sedan? As if he doesn’t have enough trouble, his ex-wife, Virginia Mayo is back in town, she’s looking for more than just a film comeback.
With a little help from his friend, Peter Lorre, he’ll find the answers. Along the way he’ll run into to everyone who’s someone in Tinseltown; John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck, Edward G. Robinson, John Huston, restaurateur Michael Romanoff, and a young Marilyn Monroe. Bogart has no allusions about Hollywood, he despises “the phony opulence and all too real decadence” of the town that made him famous.
So, Bogie calls on Raymond Chandler (!) in his quest, and we get to see these two legends square off in a scene illustrating their mutual respect and admiration for one another. We also get a behind the scenes look at the movie-making business of the 1940’s, a nefarious plot by a scumbag producer to use the House Un-American Activities Committee for evil purposes, and an exciting climax at the 1948 Academy Awards ceremony.
Reminding us of the fact that “it’s difficult to separate Bogart fact from Bogart fiction,” we also get a capsulized version of his WWI days and a quick overview of his rise to stardom in Hollywood. Whether it’s a fictionalized account or not matters little. This is the tough guy that we know and love and as John Huston good-naturedly chides to Bogart in one scene; “There’s only one problem with you Bogie– you really believe you’re Bogart.”
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
By the time they collaborated on Bogart ’48, Stanley and Davis were no strangers to the genre. They’d already created Carver Bascombe, a quite credible black private eye who sprung up in the seventies.
- Bogart ’48 (1980) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Rest in Pieces
The Fictionalized Lives of Private Eye Writers & Other Folks