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Bogart, then and now

February 16, 2011 |  3:05 pm

Humphrey Bogart was one of the biggest stars of the golden age of Hollywood; although he died of cancer more than 50 years ago, his movie performances remain indelible. Bogart, who played reluctant good guys and grudging criminals, was a hero and heartthrob.

In our pages today, Tim Rutten reviews a new Bogart biography, "Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart" by Stefan Kanfer. Rutten writes:

The book's title comes from a letter Raymond Chandler wrote to his English publisher, expressing delight over the casting of Bogart to play Philip Marlowe in an adaptation of "The Big Sleep": "Bogart can be tough without a gun. Also he has a sense of humor that contains the grating undertone of contempt ... Bogart is the genuine article."

Kanfer, whose previous work includes well-received biographies of Groucho Marx, Lucille Ball and Marlon Brando, does a nice, brisk job of tracing the roots of that authentic tough-guy persona, along with the unsentimental decency that characterized the star's personal life and won him so many fast friends in a town and a business where they're few on the ground.

Read the rest of the review of "Tough Without a Gun" here, and find out more about Humphrey Bogart here.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart in "Key Largo" (1948). Credit: UCLA Film and Television Archive