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Bogart Paperback – November 29, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

It's the season of battling Bogarts: two biographies, each worthwhile for different reasons. If you want a leisurely, formidably well-documented account of Humphrey Bogart's legendary screen career and four marriages (including a happy final one to Lauren Bacall), this is it. A. M. Sperber conducted some 200 interviews with people who knew the actor before his death in 1994; Eric Lax draws on her seven years of research to create a nuanced, in-depth, elegantly written portrait of the man recently dubbed Hollywood's greatest star by Premiere magazine. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Much of the literature on Humphrey Bogart focuses on the source of his enduring appeal, and until now there has not been an in-depth biography. The clear winner between these two titles is the Sperber-Lax collaboration. Sperber (Murrow: His Life and Times, Freundlich, 1986) did all the interviews and wrote a first version of the manuscript; after her death, Lax (Woody Allen, LJ 5/1/91) finished the writing. Sperber's more than 200 interviews and time spent in the Warner Brothers studio archives paid off. This model biography should become the standard study of Bogart. Meyers (Robert Frost, LJ 4/15/96) is taking on his first Hollywood subject, and it shows. His descriptions and analyses of the studio system don't carry the authority they should. He does add interesting anecdotes to the record, but only the largest collections will want to purchase both books.?Thomas Wiener, "Satellite DIRECT"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reissue edition (November 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062107364
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062107367
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By David A. Wend on July 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Bogart is the definitive biography of Humphrey Bogart. A. M. Sperber, who also wrote a marvelous book about Edward R. Murrow, has done painstaking research that included over 200 interviews. I have previously read the short biography of Bogart by Joe Hyams and Lauren Bacall's autobiography, which helped to gauge some of the information in this book. A. M. Sperber died before she could complete this book so it was completed by Eric Lax.

This is the kind of book that is difficult to put down; a well written book that moves along giving a non-judgmental view of its famous subject. What I came away with was a much broader portrait of Humphrey Bogart and the realization of how unhappy he was. An interesting revelation was that despite his success as an actor there was some regret that he not become a writer. An aspect of Bogart's life that I wish was better covered was his personal likes and dislikes. As in Lauren Bacall's autobiography, this book revealed that he was very fond of Bach and Debussy and the music of both composers was played at his funeral. This was certainly different from his tough guy image! So, although I learned a great deal about his battles with Jack Warner and Mayo and his passionate defense of the First Amendment, it is a portrait lacking a spark of life.

The book goes into detail about his childhood and his parents, who were both drug addicts and near alcoholics. As the book progresses, one can vividly see how his parents affected Humphrey Bogart's personality, making him introverted but also instilling in him the qualities of a gentleman and the Victorian ideal of doing what must be done.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Brian W. Fairbanks VINE VOICE on October 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago, the American Film Institute, Entertainment Weekly, and Premiere magazine all named Humphrey Bogart the greatest film star of all time, a selection few film buffs would argue with. Like John Wayne and Cary Grant, Bogart was larger than life, yet, unlike them, he was also down in the dirt with the rest of us. An average guy in many ways, the characters he played beat the odds, but only after enormous effort and struggle.

A.M. Sperber's generally excellent biography shows that Bogart the icon and Bogart the man shared many similar traits. Though the son of a wealthy doctor and his artist wife, there was a dark side to Bogart's outwardly pampered life. His mother was distant, his father was addicted to morphine, and the young boy and his sisters, one of whom suffered from mental illness, were abused by the servants. Bogart was an academic failure with little hope for success until distinguishing himself on Broadway with his classic portrayal of Duke Mantee in "The Petrified Forest."

But even when Hollywood beckoned, life didn't get easier for the insecure actor. While James Cagney, George Raft, Paul Muni, and Edward G. Robinson were "stars" who got the best roles Warner Bros. had to offer, Bogart was taken for granted, a mere contract player who played supporting roles in the important projects, and spent years buried in a series of undistinguished B flicks churned out on the Hollywood assembly line. Well paid, especially by Depression era standards, he nonetheless struggled to support his ailing sisters and to pay off his late father's debts.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1997
Format: Hardcover
"Bogart" reads quick and you can tell the authors both spent a good deal of time creating it. (Sperber died before it was finished) The reading gets a tad depressing following Bogart's ill-fated trip to Washington DC to take on the Blacklisters. However, the descriptions of the anti-Communist attacks on the film industry are compelling. There is a good balance between the film icon's life in and out of the studio. If you don't care to know how many times Bogart arrived on the set of The Maltese Falcon with a hangover, don't worry, the pace will keep you interested. On the other hand, don't pick this up if all you want is an in-depth look at Casablanca. The authors play no favorites. All of his major films receive about the same amount of attention. I say that as a compliment. The book also presents fascinating looks into Jack Warner (who ran Warner Bros.), John Huston, Howard Hawks and of course Bacall. This is no Bogart/Bacall love story either. While their courtship and marriage are covered well, you'll get four fifths through before they have their first child. If your all-time favorite film is Star Wars, save your money. If not, buy this
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Elaine J. Campbell on March 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
No question, by the time you finish this book, you are whirling with knowledge of Humphrey Bogart, whom no one can ever really know because he was so complex with a mixture of his shadow and light side that it seems he was the most confused of all about himself. One thing is certain: He had a great, great talent, and his films are as much loved today as when he was in his prime.
Several things are left out of the book, and I wonder why. One is the fact that Mr. Lax states that Bogart's sister was a great financial responsibility for him as she was in a private sanitarium for mental illness. In 1955 Frances Bogart Rose was a patient in the Metropolitan State Hospital (for the mentally ill) at Norwalk, California. She was allowed occasional visits to the Bogart home, but her return was always a concern because of the heavy drinking at Bogart's home and its effects on her. Perhaps it was at an earlier time that she was in a private sanitarium, but Mr. Lax gives the reader the impression it was for life. Since Bogart, who died in 1957, left her no bequest in his will (in spite of leaving small bequests to the household cook and his secretary), one can assume he knew she in some way would be cared for during her lifetime
Another issue not covered is Bogart's involvement with women during his mariage to Bacall, which even Bacall speaks of in her autobiography, stating she did not find out about some of the women until after Bogart's death (perhaps the best documented claim is about the young lady who cut his children's hair, a total opposite from Ms. Bacall). Yet the author points out Ms. Bacall's attractions (and in the case of Adlai Stevenson, she obviously had fallen in love).
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