World Book Day: Humphrey Bogart, Movie Icon and Avid Reader

Bogie and Books

Humphrey Bogart’s fame rests on his tough-guy roles in movies where he played gangsters and private eyes for hire, but in reality he grew up amid wealth and privilege (his family was in the New York social register). Although he was a poor student, and eventually expelled from the prestigious Phillips Academy (some sources claim his expulsion was from Yale), he had a lifelong love of reading, and could quote Plato, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Shakespeare.

My father mainly liked writers. His friends were writers.
— Stephen Bogart

Some of his best friends were screenwriters, such as Nunnally Johnson and John Huston. Huston, well known for his directing, as well as occasional acting roles, also wrote over 20 screenplays, including what is touted as the foremost adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon.

Interestingly enough, before a young Bogart fell into acting, he’d tried writing screenplays but it didn’t work out.

Links of Interest

Real Men Don’t Read? In a Lonely Place and the Self-Loathing Screenwriter. In Nicholas Ray’s classic film noir, Bogie plays a writer with an aversion to opening a book. By Brad Stevens, Sight&Sound, international film magazine

Tough Without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart by Stefan Kanfer Book review by Philip French, The Guardian

All Rights Reserved, Colleen Collins. Do not copy or distribute any textual content without written approval from the author. Humphrey Bogart portrait is in the public domain, video of Bogart reading The Big Sleep courtesy of Warner Archives.

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