Classic Hollywood: Humphrey Bogart endures, as time goes by

This is Susan King, a veteran entertainment writer at the Los Angeles Times and guardian of the Golden Age of Hollywood galaxy. Every Friday in my Classic Hollywood newsletter, I get a chance to share my love for everything vintage.

This week I want to shine the spotlight on one of my faves, Humphrey Bogart. Though he has been dead for nearly 60 years, his movies and performances have stood the test of time.


TCM and Fathom Events are celebrating the 75th anniversary of one of his most iconic films, the snappy noir "The Maltese Falcon," with special theatrical screenings around the country on Sunday and Wednesday. (If you'd rather see it on TV, TCM is airing the film today.)

The film, which marked the directorial debut of screenwriter John Huston, stars a perfectly cast Bogart as San Francisco shamus Sam Spade in this near-flawless adaptation of the Dashiell Hammett novel. Bogart is matched every step of the way with a superior supporting cast that includes Mary Astor, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, the British-born American actor who didn't make his film debut in this classic until he was 62.

Humphrey Bogart, left, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet appear in a scene from "The Maltese Falcon."
Humphrey Bogart, left, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet appear in a scene from "The Maltese Falcon." (Warner Bros.)

And that's not all.

On Tuesday, Warner Archive is releasing the Blu-rays of two of the four films Bogart made with his last wife, Lauren Bacall -- the confusing but highly entertaining 1946 noir "The Big Sleep" and the Huston-directed 1948 noir thriller "Key Largo," which also stars Lionel Barrymore, Edward G. Robinson and an Oscar-winning Claire Trevor. "Largo" was the final feature film the couple made.

Movie Milestone

The endearing and influential romantic comedy "It Happened One Night," which won Oscars for film, director for Frank Capra, lead actor for Clark Gable, lead actress for Claudette Colbert and adapted screenplay for Robert Riskin, opened at Radio City Music Hall on Feb. 22, 1934. Even though it's from 82 years ago, this breezy farce still is among the best of the genre.

Two years ago, I wrote about the film's beautiful 80th anniversary digital restoration.

Don't Touch That Dial

TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" features several seminal movies of the late 1960s and '70s on Feb. 24 in prime time, including Robert Altman's 1970 antiwar satire "MASH"; Sidney Lumet's brilliant 1976 dark satire "Network," penned by Oscar winner Paddy Chayefsky and featuring the Oscar-winning performances of Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight; Arthur Penn's landmark 1967 "Bonnie and Clyde," starring Dunaway and Warren Beatty; and Altman's revisionist 1971 western "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" starring Beatty and Julie Christie.

From the Hollywood Star Walk

Notable birthdays include Merle Oberon (Feb. 19); Smokey Robinson (Feb. 19); Gale Gordon (Feb. 20); Sidney Poitier (Feb. 20); Nancy Wilson (Feb. 20); Tyne Daly (Feb. 21); Kelsey Grammer (Feb. 21); Ann Sheridan (Feb. 21); Drew Barrymore (Feb. 22); Robert Young (Feb. 22); Peter Fonda (Feb. 23); Norman Taurog (Feb. 23); Edward James Olmos (Feb. 24); and Zachary Scott (Feb. 24).

The Man Behind the Man in the Iron Mask

Sunday marks the 31st anniversary of the death of Louis Hayward  of cancer at age 75. During the 1930s and '40s, the charming and handsome British actor starred in hits such as the 1939 swashbuckler "The Man in the Iron Mask," the 1941 thriller "Ladies in Retirement" with his first wife Ida Lupino, and Rene Clair's terrific 1945 adaptation of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None."

Louis Hayward and Lucille Ball star in "Dance, Girl, Dance."
Louis Hayward and Lucille Ball star in "Dance, Girl, Dance."

A naturalized American citizen, he spent three years in the Marine Corps during World War II and returned to acting after the war as a staple in theater, TV and films.

Here is the L.A. Times obituary as it appeared in the paper on Feb. 22, 1985.