9. Humphrey Bogart
CASABLANCA, THE MALTESE FALCON, THE BIG SLEEP, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, IN A LONELY PLACE, THE CAINE MUTINY, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT
Has anybody ever done more with less than Humphrey Bogart? He was short, far from conventionally attractive, unathletic, and much of his screen persona came down to a resistance to action. He looked real – he looked like he drank and smoked and fought and was sick of it all and just wanted to be done with the whole rotten lot. But he yearned. Oh, how he yearned. He yearned to be better or worse, but just to get out. The Bogart Character was a consummate professional who had no time for lesser men or desperate women. He might indulge the floozies, but he stayed for those stronger than he. The attentive viewer can notice a spark in his eye anytime he found such a woman. Even the most contented Bogarts (The Big Sleep, Sabrina) could find something worth living for in a woman. The Bogarts who were totally lost had no choice. Bogart the performer began on the stage and retained his commanding voice, but his face – which could shift expression in the most minute fashion in a glance or a smirk – was made for the screen, his almost stodgy posture shifting uneasily or remaining steadfast. Sometimes, usually at the climax, a combination of the two, allowing a little bit of fear into his fearless men; fear of what the other guy might do, or what he himself might be capable of. And Bogart…Bogart was capable of anything.