From his emergence as a figure to be reckoned with in High Sierra and as private eye Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon in 1941, his iconic performance in Casablanca two years later, to his Oscar-winning role in The African Queen in 1952, Humphrey Bogart ensured his place as a true Hollywood legend. The quintessential 'tough guy', no star of his era remains such a lively presence in our imaginations.
From the time he decided to pursue acting, Humphrey Bogart was committed to the art. In the more than 80 films spanning his career, he was never once late to the set or unprepared for his lines. He was professional in every aspect of his own career. By the late fifties it was possible to argue that it was Humphrey Bogart, not Clark Gable or Gary Cooper or James Cagney or even Cary Grant, who had appeared in more films - close to a dozen of them - that are unarguably central to the history of American cinema, and today, Casablanca still vies for the title of best picture ever made.
While Bogart's personal charm is to this day unmatched on screen, his private life was the stuff of legend. With Lauren Bacall, he formed one of Hollywood's most celebrated on and off-screen couples. Upon meeting Bacall, Bogart told her: 'I saw your test. We're going to have a lot of fun together.' Following the success of The African Queen, Bogart starred in several other notable movies, including Sabrina, Beat the Devil and The Caine Mutiny. Sadly, in 1956, his outstanding career was cut short by cancer of the oesophagus. He died in January 1957.
In this lavishly illustrated biography, published to mark 50 years since Bogart's death, Richard Schickel pays a fitting tribute to one of American cinema's most enduring symbols.
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