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Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 1, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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)
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Humphrey Bogart was 42 before in 1941 he broke through as an A-list star in The Maltese Falcon and High Sierra. He was dead of lung cancer a mere 16 years later. Yet, as Kanfer points out in his revealing account of Bogart’s life and legacy, Bogie, in those few short years, established a cinematic identity that lives on across generations. Kanfer thoroughly covers the relatively familiar ground of Bogart’s upbringing as the rebellious child of blue-blood parents; his long apprenticeships, first in the theater and then playing bad guys in the movies; and, finally, his brief but iconic years of stardom. Beyond that, though, what separates Kanfer’s book from other Bogart bios by David Thomson, Jeffrey Meyers, and Richard Schickel is the emphasis on the actor’s “afterlife,” the way that somehow his persona—“integrity, stoicism, sexual charisma accompanied by a cool indifference to women”—has never gone out of style. Bogart divided the world into “professionals and bums,” and Kanfer makes a convincing case that, with so many bums surrounding us today, the real pros never grow stale. --Bill Ott