Anthony Costelloe profiles tough guys Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum
Humphrey Bogart was the quintessential movie tough guy of the 40s and 50s who died on screen nearly thirty times. He was shot by cops or gangsters almost twenty times, stabbed to death, poisoned, beheaded, drowned, mauled by a lion and electrocuted twice.
In his good-guy, tough-guy roles, he played private eye Sam Spade in the 1941 thriller The Maltese Falcon and private investigator Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep in 1946. He won an Oscar for best actor in the war movie The African Queen (1952). He gave an outstanding performance as the scruffy hard-drinking tug-boat skipper.
This cinema icon was suffering from cancer when he made three movies in 1955. The fifty-six year old Bogey starred as an evil criminal in the triller The Desperate Hours; a comedy, We’re No Angels, followed, starring Peter Ustinov and Aldo Ray. Then Bogey ‘donned the collar’ for the action-drama The Left Hand of God.
He took top billing in this one-and- a-half hour MGM movie which was directed by Edward Dmytryk and co-starred Gene Tierney and Lee J. Cobb. It was a box-office hit.
Two years after the end of World War Two, Father O’Shea (Bogart) arrives in a Chinese village, a Catholic village with an adjoining hospital.
The local people are impressed by O’Shea’s honesty and kindness and he wins their respect. The hospital nurse, Anne Scott (Gene Tierney) develops a friendship that goes deeper than platonic.
As the movie unfolds, we learn that Fr. O’Shea is an imposter. His real name is Jim Carmody, an air-force pilot whose plane crashed in China. General Yang (Lee J. Cobb), a Chinese warlord, rescues him and, realising that he is a ‘tough cookie’ puts him second in command of his army.
The real Fr. O’Shea, a missionary priest, is killed by a Chinese soldier and Carmody escapes donning the priest’s clothes. He is subsequently re-arrested by Yang. Then comes a twist in the tale.