Fifteen years ago, as part of its 100 Years…100 Stars celebration, the AFI announced a list of the 50 greatest American screen legends. The list was split, with one half dedicated to the top 25 women and the other half the top 25 men. At the number one spot for the men is Humphrey Bogart. When this list was announced back in 1999, there was a bit of, let’s call it “lively discussion”, over the rankings, omissions, etc….particularly in regards to the women’s list. Yet one thing that was fairly consistent throughout: almost everyone was in agreement that Humphrey Bogart is the epitome of a Hollywood star. Unique looks, charismatic character, tough guy with a soft heart.
In the last couple of years, a few of Bogart’s films have been re-released individually on DVD/Blu-ray: The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), and The African Queen (1951). The blu-ray releases of all of these films were spectacular, especially The African Queen. Circulating copies of this film, which brought Bogart his one and only Academy Award, were washed-out bootlegs; an insult to director John Huston, Bogart, and his co-star Katharine Hepburn. They endured much during the filming of Queen. It’s a beautiful film, shot on-location in Africa (which was rarely done back then). It should have never been relegated to the depths of the bargain bin.
Warner Home Video has released a space saving blu-ray box set of these four titles and labeled it The Best of Bogart Collection. Retailing at $49.95 (and as low as $34.96 at Amazon), this is a great way to own four of Bogart’s best films for less than buying separately. The set includes the same individual disc releases, so if you own these already (or the collector’s edition sets), there is no need to buy this collection. However if you don’t own these films, or are looking to upgrade to blu-ray, this is a great bargain. The transfers on all look incredible. One word of caution: the packaging on this set is less than ideal. There are only two slots in the case, and there are two discs stacked on top of each other in each one. You have to be very careful when removing the disc or else both will fall out of the slot.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
In his directorial debut, John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon is one of the most popular film noirs of all time. Humphrey Bogart is private detective Sam Spade, who is hired by Brigid O’Shaughnessy (initially using the alias Ruth Wonderly), to find her missing sister. When Sam’s partner Miles Archer is murdered, he discovers there’s much more to this case than a missing sister. He becomes acquainted with a very colorful group of high-class criminals, including Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) and Kasper “Fat Man” Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet). These individuals are searching for an extremely valuable item: a black bird statuette.
- Commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax
- Featurette The Maltese Falcon: One Magnificent Bird
- Breakdowns of 1941: Studio Blooper Reel
- Makeup Tests
- Becoming Attractions: The Trailers of Humphrey Bogart Warner Night at the Movies 1941 Short Subjects Gallery
- Audio-Only Bonus: 3 Radio Show Adaptations
Europeans headed toward America had to make a stop through Casablanca. It’s here where they would be forced to put down roots, as leaving required an exit visa issued by the government. However, the government in Casablanca is extremely corrupt, so everything can be bought and sold…if you have enough money. So the unfortunate souls who are forced to remain in Casablanca at least have one place they can go to relax and maybe try to win enough money for passage—Rick’s Café Américain owned by American expatriate Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart).
Rick is known to be neutral and famously quips “I stick my neck out for no one.” However he’s reluctantly thrown into helping the hero Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) and his wife Ilsa Lund (Ingrid Bergman)…who happens to be Rick’s former lover. There’s letters of transit, an emotional rendition of La Marseillaise, and a cheeky Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault. In the end, Rick rises to the occasion as a true romantic hero.
- Commentary by Roger Ebert
- Commentary by Historian Rudy Behlmer
- Introduction by Lauren Bacall Additional Scenes & Outtakes
- Scoring Session Outtakes
- Bacall on Bogart
- You Must Remember This: A Tribute to Casablanca
- Featurette As Time Goes By: The Children Remember
- Production Research Gallery
- Homage Cartoon Carrotblanca
- Who Hold Tomorrow?: Premiere Episode From 1955 Warner Bros. Presents TV Series Adaptation of Casablanca Audio-Only Bonus: Radio Production with the Movie’s 3 Key Stars
- Theatrical Trailers
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Two Americans, Fred C. Dobbs (Bogart) and Bob Curtin (Tim Holt) are seeking work in post-revolution Mexico. After missing out on wages owed to them (and engaging in a pretty spectacular bar brawl with their “employer”), Dobbs and Curtin meet a crusty, old prospector named Howard (Walter Huston). After much convincing, the trio set out toward the Sierra Madre mountains to search for gold. It’s not without its perils, however. There are bandits at every turn; they don’t care about gold, they just want the shoes off your feet.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is arguably Bogart’s best performance. His descent into paranoia and madness is incredible, which he uses later again with his role as Lt. Cmdr. Philip Francis Queeg in The Caine Mutiny (1954).
- Commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax
- Discovering TreasureL The Story of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
- Documentary Profile John Huston
- Warner Night at the Movies 1948 Short Subjects Gallery: Leonard Maltin Introduction, Newsreel, 2 Classic Cartoons, Comedy Short, Theatrical Trailers
- Audio-Only Bonus: Radio Show with the Movie’s Original Stars
The African Queen (1951)
Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) is a British missionary in Africa during WWI. Mail, food and supplies are brought to the remote village where they live via a crusty, drunkard Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart), captain of African Queen. During his most recent delivery, Charlie warns that Germany and Britain are at war. When their village is destroyed by German soldiers and Rose’s brother dies of fever, Charlie rescues her and the two set sail on the African Queen. While heading down the river, Charlie mentions a German boat called the Queen Louisa that patrols a lake at the end of the river. Rose convinces Charlie to make the dangerous trip downriver, using the African Queen and makeshift torpedoes to sink the Queen Louisa. On their journey, the unlikely pair fall in love, making for one of the sweetest romances ever filmed.
- Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen