January 14th, 2012: The Petrified Forest (1936)

Cast and Crew:  Archie Mayo (Director); Charles Kenyon and Delmer Daves (Screenplay); Robert E. Sherwood (Play); Hal B. Wallis (Executive Producer);  Dick Foran, Porter Hall

What It’s About:  A disparate group of people beliefs and mettle are tested at a rest stop diner in a lonely desert when Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) and his gang of bank robbers use the location as a rendezvous on their run from the law.

Why Watch it Today?:   Bogart died 55 years ago todayThe Petrified Forest was Bogart’s break out role, first on stage, then on screen.  Star Leslie Howard insisted his stage co-star accompany him in the film version (the studio wanted Edward G. Robinson).  Although the story spends more time with Howard’s disillusioned poet Alan Squier and his romance with the naïve but ambitious waitress Gabrielle Maple (Bette Davis), it’s easy to see how Bogart’s scene stealing, riveting performance as an explosive bank robber with a soft spot for his moll made him a star.

Where to Get It:   Libraries, iTunes, Netflix (DVD)

Other Choices:  We’ve featured several of Bogie’s classics previously:  Casablanca, The Big Sleep, Key Largo, The Maltese Falcon, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Or maybe you’re like my wife, and you don’t like Bogart?  3-2-1 Contact premiered today, so all you Donald Glover fans have an excuse to watch Mystery Team, which was clearly inspired by The Bloodhound Gang.

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