Humphrey Bogart began acting in 1921 and became a regular in Broadway productions in the 1920s and 1930s. After silent movies transitioned to talkies, his first appearance in a sound movie was in a bit part in The Dancing Town (1929) with Helen Hayes. His first great success was as gangster Duke Mantee in The Petrified Forest (1936), and his performance was so powerful that he became typecast as a gangster with films such as Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), which featured the Dead End Kids/Bowery Boys.
Bogart's breakthrough as a leading man came in 1941 with High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The next year, his performance in Casablanca raised him to the peak of his profession and, at the same time, cemented his trademark film persona, that of the hard-boiled cynic who ultimately shows his noble side. Other successes followed, including To Have and Have Not (1944); The Big Sleep (1946); Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948), with Lauren Bacall; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948); In a Lonely Place (1950); The African Queen (1951) with Katherine Hepburn, for which he won his only Academy Award as Best Actor; Sabrina (1954); and The Caine Mutiny (1954). His last film was Columbia Pictures' The Harder They Fall (1956) directed by Mark Robson and starring Rod Steiger and Jan Sterling.
Production on The Harder They Fall began in late 1955. He was already seriously ill with what would soon be diagnosed as esophageal cancer. Occasionally inaudible in some takes, some of his lines are reported to have been dubbed in post-production by Paul Frees, who also appears in the film as a priest.
In 1956, while still in the prime of his career, surgery failed to remove the cancerous growth. The Harder They Fall was Bogart's last film, released in 1957. Bogart passed away on January 14, 1957, following the film’s release. He was fifty-seven years old.
Bogie, The Final Chapter, reveals a first-hand account of Bogart’s last work from the set of The Harder They Fall by his acting coach, Eli Rill.
“A brilliant, insightful look at an iconic actor and the time we all revere. Eli writes
with compassion and understanding of his remarkable relationship with Humphrey
Bogart.” – Mark Rydell, director of On Golden Pond, with Jane Fonda, Henry Fonda, and Katherine Hepburn, and The Reivers, with Steve McQueen.
“Eli Rill has written a book that puts you, the reader, into a vivid and immediate personal experience with Humphrey Bogart. I could not put it down, breezed through, lamented the fact that I’d come to the last page. I recommend it heartedly for a midwinter read in front of a woodburning fireplace.” – Martin Landau, Academy Award winner.
About the Author:
Eli Rill is a writer, actor, and director in Hollywood. Prior to his successful career in the movie industry, he was a U.S. Marine serving in Saipan, Okinawa, and Nagasaki during World War II. After his military service, he adapted and directed productions in New York and Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio. His novel, A Penny for the Violin Man, with glowing testimonials from Academy Award winners Martin Landau and Lee Grant, was recently published.
Paperback. 58 pages. Published June 27, 2012.