Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart

Stefan Kanfer, Knopf, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-27100-6
Kanfer, a Time magazine editor who has written biographies of Marlon Brando, Lucille Ball, and Groucho Marx, turns his attention to Humphrey Bogart, whose "outstanding characteristics—integrity, stoicism, a sexual charisma accompanied by a cool indifference to women—are never out of style when he's on-screen." After a privileged New York childhood as the son of famed illustrator Maud Humphrey, Bogart flunked out of Phillips Andover, joined the Navy near the end of WWI, and entered show business as a stage manager. Kanfer delivers compelling coverage of Bogart's early marriages and 13 years as a New York stage actor, culminating with The Petrified Forest, his 1935 Broadway breakthrough. Casablanca and other film classics are detailed with both illuminating insights and anecdotal accounts of Tinseltown. Raymond Chandler was pleased by the casting of The Big Sleep because, he wrote, "Bogart can be tough without a gun." By the mid-1940s, Bogart was the world's highest paid actor, with a résumé of 19 plays and 53 films. Although Bogart was heard on more than 80 radio broadcasts (even singing) between 1936 and 1954, Kanfer overlooks this medium. Apart from that lapse, the biography stands as an entertaining, definitive portrait, enriched with delightful digressions into Bogie's noirish, rough-hewn persona. (Feb. 3)
Reviewed on: 11/15/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 210 pages - 978-0-307-59531-7
Hardcover - 537 pages - 978-1-4104-3704-4
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-571-26072-0
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-307-45581-9
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-571-26073-7
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