RARA-AVIS: the voice of hardboiled

From: Mark Sullivan ( DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net)
Date: 13 Aug 2001

I just finished listening to the CD of the radio plays of Casablanca and Maltese Falcon (thank you very much to whoever posted that it came free with the August Sight and Sound; I found it in Borders).

It made me realize how, to me, Bogart is the voice of hardboiled. Of course, he portrayed both of the iconographic PIs, Spade and Marlowe, so it's not surprising that his voice is now so identified with the genre.

It makes me wonder, though, if it came as a revelation at the beginning. I'm guessing it did. Both movies were popular from the beginning, right? Without belittling the skills of John Huston, Howard Hawks or any of the costars, I'm guessing a lot of that popularity was due to Bogart. He was made for the role and the sneer in his voice is just so perfect it probably played a part in that. These movies were relatively early in his ascent to stardom, right? Among his first roles as the good guy instead of as a heavy, a shift from Petrified Forrest and High Sierra, right?

Now his depiction seems definitive, but does anyone know how he was felt to compare with other movie PIs at the time? I know Chandler felt Cary Grant best suited the role of Marlowe and didn't he prefer Dick Powell's portrayal to Bogart's.


ps -- although it comes from Casablanca and not the Falcon, the line "I think that underneath that cynical shell beats the heart of a sentimentalist" is a perfect description of the Marlowe lineage of PIs.

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