Bogart : a life in Hollywood

by Meyers, Jeffrey.

Format: Print Book 1997
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction PN2287.B48 M46 1997
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
Call Number  PN2287.B48 M46 1997
Carnegie Library of Homestead Non Fiction 92 Boga
Location  Carnegie Library of Homestead
Collection  Non Fiction
Call Number  92 Boga
Humphrey Bogart was the scion of a rich and socially prominent New York family. His father was a surgeon who in later years declined into drug addiction; his mother, a successful portrait painter who used her obedient son as a model. Humphrey was a poor student and welcomed the interruption to his education of World War I. He played dozens of roles in Broadway plays in the 1920s, mostly in short runs, until he created Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest, which typecast him in Warner Brothers gangster films for a decade. He broke through to stardom after he teamed up with John Huston in The Maltese Falcon, and took his place in the Hollywood firmament with the legendary acting ensemble of Casablanca. He survived three tempestuous and childless marriages (his third wife, Mayo Methot, whom he nicknamed "Sluggy", went so far as to stab him), but at the height of his career he found happiness, and children, with the youthful Lauren Bacall. Jeffrey Meyers, the distinguished literary biographer, enlarges the scope of his biographical gift by concentrating on an actor. He cuts through Hollywood hype and gossip to get at the human and artistic qualities that made Bogart great. The biographer of Hemingway sees in Bogart many of the characteristics shared by the supreme novelist and treats Bogart as a professional actor, conveying his ways of working, his dedication and concentration on the set, his love of privacy, his caustic wit and plain life as well as his stoical and tragic way of dying.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Veteran literary biographer Meyers (Frost and Hemingway are among his previous subjects) moves to the popular arts with this entertaining account of the life and work of Humphrey Bogart. The facts of Bogart's life are familiar to most movie fans--upper-class childhood, Broadway career as a pretty boy ("Tennis anyone?"), gangster roles in Hollywood, breakthrough in Casablanca, marriage to Lauren Bacall, death from cancer in his fifties--and while Meyers competently takes us through these events, he recognizes that a new life of Bogart must offer something more. As in his previous work, that something more comes not so much from new revelations as from Meyers' ability to synthesize great masses of divergent material into a unified whole that provides new perspective. This is especially true in terms of Bogart's life as an actor. Juxtaposing Bogart the stage-trained, consummate craftsman against the popular image of Bogey the hard-boiled cult hero ("The world is two drinks behind"), Meyers carefully sorts image from reality and, most convincingly, shows how the two merge to make the man. This is a Hollywood bio, though, so there's bound to be a little dishing: the revelation, backed up by sources both named and unnamed, that Bacall was having an affair with Frank Sinatra before her husband's death will provide grist for the talk-show mill. Though Meyers spends a bit too much time in summarizing the plots of Bogart's films, his critical opinions are insightful, and he offers some tantalizing insider nuggets, especially concerning Bogey's career-long battles with Jack Warner. All in all, this is a fine reassessment of a "remarkably sane and honest" actor whose "built-in shit detector" remained finely tuned throughout 25 years in Hollywood. --Bill Ott"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "For his first film biography, Meyers, who has written about the lives of Hemingway, Conrad, Poe and Frost (Robert Frost, 1996) tackles Humphrey Bogart (1899- 1957), whose film breakthrough came as private eye Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941). Meyers's gift for portraying the private lives of his subjects with unsentimental compassion is on full display here. With novelistic detail, he evokes the paradoxes of Bogart's life and screen image: born to a society doctor and his artist wife, the actor personified on screen the streetwise tough guy. He came up hard in the New York theater, living hand to mouth and often playing society swells, so that by the time he succeeded in the movies, he'd come to see acting as just a job, taking pride mainly in his professionalism. Meyers is especially good on Bogart's cynicism about the movie business, and in particular about his running battles with the tyrannical Jack Warner over roles and salary. Meyers's accounts of Bogart's stormy marriage to Mayo Methot and his happy one to Lauren Bacall are thorough but not prurient, and he vividly evokes Bogart's working method, by which the star memorized his lines only a few moments before shooting a scene, to keep his performance fresh. Meyers's lack of background in film history shows in his perfunctory readings of the films themselves; his accounts of Bogart's performances are often reduced to mere catalogues of the actor's gestures and facial ticks. Otherwise, this is a first-rate biography of a talented and complicated actor who "survived twenty-five years in Hollywood without a drug problem, a nervous breakdown or a psychiatrist." Photos not seen by PW. Rights: Sandra Dijkstra. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Bogart, Humphrey, -- 1899-1957.
Motion picture actors and actresses -- United States -- Biography.
Publisher Boston :Houghton Mifflin,1997
Language English
Notes "A Peter Davison book."
Description x, 369 pages, 32 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 354-358) and index.
Filmography: pages 352-353.
ISBN 0395773997
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