Re: Re - RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled Plays

From: Bob Toomey (
Date: 19 Jan 2000

James Rogers wrote:

> Come to think of it, wasn't "The Petrified Forest" a stage play before
> making Bogie a star in the movies?

Well, it didn't really make Bogart a star. It made him a supporting player, usually as a heavy. He made around a dozen movies before "The Petrified Forest," but his career wasn't going anywhere, so he went back to Broadway, where he played Duke Mantee on stage opposite Leslie Howard. When it came time to make the movie, Howard was tapped for the lead, but the studio didn't want Bogart. Howard told them if they didn't take Bogart, they wouldn't get him. Bogart subsequently named his first child Leslie in gratitude for the gesture that put him back in the movies. This was 1936. Bogart continued to play mostly villains and second leads until 1941, when another actor, George Raft, gave him a real career boost by turning down two roles that then fell to Bogart. The first was the part of Roy 'Mad Dog' Earle in Raoul Walsh's "High Sierra." Raft refused the role because he was sick of playing gangsters and didn't want to die on screen. The screenplay was by John Huston, who would soon become even more important to Bogart's career, and for the first time Bogart got to play a sympathetic lead, a signature role, the romantic, existential bad guy that so entranced Belmondo in "Breathless." That same year, Raft turned down the part of Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon" because he didn't want to work with novice director John Huston, and the role went to Bogart. The rest, as they say, is history. Bogart became a star and George Raft became a footnote.


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