Monday, 18 October 2010

Best Actor 1943: Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart received his first Oscar Nomination for portraying Rick Blaine in Casablanca.

Casablanca is a film that routinely bored me, and disappointed me the first time I watched it, when I watched it again I will say it has grown on me a bit. I still think it far from one of the greatest films of all time, but I did certainly find it to be good this time around.

Humphrey Bogart's performance is one of the most iconic performance in film history, usually when thinking of Bogart or the film, the though is of Bogart in that white suit, and in that iconic Cafe. Still being iconic does not automatically mean a high quality performance. I actually really like his second most iconic role, that of Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, and think that is a perfect display of him excelling completely in his comfort zone but anyways. Bogart's performance is interesting in that most people would say no one else could have played Rick better. Now today that is most certainly true, if anyone else tried the part, it would seem that they just could not be the same iconic character as Bogart. But perhaps someone else had played Rick originally, perhaps a better performance could possibly be given. But because he did play the role it now seems no one else could have ever played it well as he does.

Now does he play the role perfectly. That is an interesting question because Rick and Bogart seem one and the same when it comes to this role, and that whatever he does is purely Rick.  He just is the type of man Rick is the way he stands, smokes his cigarette and carries himself. Who else could be like that but Bogart. Perhaps someone but the iconic nature of the Rick prevents me from seeing this, and Bogart seems to still be correct.  This performance does vex me because for me it is hard to critically examine, because of the conflict between the actual performance and the Iconic Bogart/Rick. I suppose whatever he did must of worked, because even the suit, and the club were important to make Rick, the film could not have technically be done without Bogart.

I will say that the first time I viewed the film, I found him to be rather dull at times, but this time, his performance did grow on me like the film. His acting as Rick just seemed to be technically correct. He now never seemed dull, if he was not emotional it was because Rick was simply too calm and collected to be so. Bogart must deserve credit I say since his performance I truly thrown off my ability to criticize. I do not think his chemistry with Ingrid Bergman is actually perfect in a technical sense, but for someone reason it deservedly earns to be a romance of cinematic legend. I do not know how but for some reason it all works, is it Bogart's acting, or Michael Curtiz's directing, I am not sure, but Bogart can technically do no wrong as Rick. Is this performance perfect as some say, I hesitate to agree, because I can name many greater performance in terms of acting. Is it something unique and something somehow impossible to replicate since no one else can could really be Bogart's Rick.

I  must admit when I was planning on doing this year I was full and ready to let Bogart's heavily praised performance have it  so to speak, due to the first time I saw it. I thought it was dull and boring, and I do think others could easily see it the same way. I no longer really do and I could also see how others could see it as underacting. I would partially agree with that, but not entirely because this time around his performance simply did work despite such potential flaws. I will say frankly this performance was incredibly difficult to review due to its overly iconic nature, and I will stop here for my own sanity, and just give Bogart:


dinasztie said...

I love the movie and Bogie is legendary in it. But Ingrid is the best.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit surprised, because I thought you would go higher, but we agree nonetheless.

Brandon said...

It's one of those iconic performances that I feel is simply flawed despite its ledgendary status. A good performance, but the film holds him back sort of.

And I agree, just because a perf is iconic doesn't really mean that it lives up to it.

Unknown said...

Louis I wud like to ask u something wat wud u rate bogarts performance in the Maltese falcon and wud u say its an overall better performance than nicholson in chinatown and why

Louis Morgan said...

Well Bogart's a guarantee for 41 lead so I'll save my thoughts till then.

Unknown said...

Which actors would u consider bogarts contemporaries

Louis Morgan said...

Cagney, technically George Raft, and to a lesser extent Edward G. Robinson.