There are few iconic actors like Humphrey Bogart. His face and his movies are well-known around the world and he is of such stature that even other movies mimic or reference him. From his rise from Broadway and roles like Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest to his last movie, playing a man on the backside of life struggling with his conscience in The Harder They Fall, Bogart made his mark permanent in Hollywood. Movies like Casablanca, The African Queen, and The Maltese Falcon (to name only a few) are on every list of best movies of all-time. Personally, I find his delivery and dialogue great material to rely on in writing.
Many people don’t realize he was married several times and didn’t have children until he met Lauren Bacall who was about half his age. They were seriously in love with each and they had two children but Bogart died of cancer when the kids were really young leaving them with few if any memories to rely on. Stephen Bogart wrote a book title Bogart: In Search Of My Father.
I read the book in lead up to my current project Jackpot Girl. Seemed to me that reading a bio about Bogart before doing a crime novel was a good plan. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was pleased with what I discovered.
The book isn’t a straight-up bio of Bogart but is exactly what the title indicates – a search for him. Stephen Bogart spent a good deal of his life dealing with his father’s untimely death and purposely didn’t learn of about his father (he confesses fans had more knowledge) until late. Then he went to interview friends and those who knew his father to see who he really was. What you get then is a book that is a mix. There is an outline of Bogart’s life, the good and bad, often seen by his friends. Plenty of antidotes are included. The rest of the mix is Stephen trying to cope with the death of his father and being Bogart’s son and confessing to his own bad incidents in life.
I felt Stephen was honest and forthcoming in his experiences and he wasn’t so self-centered that the book became a bore but rather a good read. It obviously was a hard book for Stephen (ironically for me an author of mystery novels) to write. It made me though want to read a full biography of Bogart at some point.
If you are a Bogart fan or a movie fan then you will find this a good read. I have to confess though that writing this post makes me want to yank my copy of Casablanca or maybe Sirocco off the shelf and stick it in the DVD player.