Today at 1:45pm on BBC Two Humphrey Bogart stars in the tragic Dark Victory. The 1939 movie sees Bogart working alongside Bette Davis. But just a few years later his career changed drastically when he took the role of Rick Blaine in Casablanca.
The film was extremely successful and made the star a highly-coveted actor in Hollywood going forward. But he may not have been if people knew how he was acting on set.
Bogart’s on-screen lover Ingrid Bergman revealed that the actor was hell to work with. Despite spending most of the film together, once the cameras had stopped rolling they didn’t really know one another.
Bergman praised the star, saying: “It was such an interesting and rough voice and of course, he was also considered a tough man but I think that inside he was quite a lovable person.”
She added: “He used to stay very much to himself. And in another interview, they used to ask me if I knew him and I’d say: ‘No I don’t know him, I’ve kissed him but I don’t know him!'”
Film historian Noah Isenberg recalled what else went on behind the scenes in his book We’ll Always Have Casablanca.
Isenberg revealed Bogart would not speak to Bergman at all on set. The pair would share steamy scenes while cameras rolled, but once cut was yelled, Bogart stormed off.
Isenberg noted: “[Bogart] was going through a nasty period with his wife – actress Mayo Methot – and there were a lot of gin-fuelled rages.”
This led to the star arriving on set drunk a lot of the time.
Bergman eventually tried to build a bridge between them by suggesting a dinner date.
Bogart instead went back to his trailer, got drunk, and play chess on his own.
Despite not working closely with Bergman, Bogart could not deny that Casablanca made him hugely successful. He was forced to later confess that the movie “catapulted them both to international superstardom”.
Previously, Bogart had been typecast as a gun-toting gangster or hardman.
Bogart’s image was instantly changed once he started falling in love (on screen) with Bergman.
Isenberg wrote: “He said the moment Ingrid kissed him, he became a romantic lead. That was the pixie dust that needed to be sprinkled over him.”
After that, he would take on such dramatic roles as The Barefoot Contessa and The Caine Mutiny.