Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Death of Humphrey Bogart

Next week marks the fifty-first anniversary of the death of actor Humphrey Bogart.

Do you think that he ever suspected that he would share a place in Gottfried Helnwein's Boulevard of Broken Dreams painting with James Dean (who died two years before Bogart), Marilyn Monroe (who would die five years later) and Elvis Presley (who would live another two decades)? Or, do you think if he lived longer, he would have aged poorly and begun to release really crappy movies, not unlike Harrison Ford (who, at 64, is now older that Bogart ever was and who played Bogart's role in the dreadful Sabrina remake)? Food for thought.

It's odd, though, that five decades after his death, his wife of 12 years, Lauren Bacall, is still forever associated with him. Bacall and Bogart were married from 1945 to Bogart's death in 1957. (They met on the set of 1944's To Have and Have Not, when Bacall was but 19). When Bogart died at age 57, Bacall was only 32 years old. Since his death, she has lived as many years as she had lived when Bogart passed away plus an additional 18, or just over four periods equal to the length of her marriage to him. What must it be like to have to remember so far back to recall the most significant romantic relationship of your life? Does she believe that this is still the most significant love of her life, or is it just marketing by the studios after all of these years? (An aside: She was married to Jason Robards in the 1960s, but nobody talks about Bacall and the late Robards, a fine actor in his own right.).

Humphrey Bogart (December 25, 1899 - January 14, 1957)

Requiescat in pace.

Immediately below, I offer one of the final scenes from Casablanca, a film which some may consider overrated but which really, truly is a masterwork of this collaborative art we call film. There's also this scene from The Caine Mutiny, less a favorite than the other, but certainly interesting, especially when contrasted with Bogart's iconic role in Casablanca.

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