A Tall Drink of Water

Stars we love at the Paramount Summer Classic Film series

<i>Casablanca</i>
Casablanca

It's Bogie, Baby

I was just a kid the first time I laid eyes on Humphrey Bogart, but his classic brand of broodiness is still a personal favorite. There he was, as Linus in Sabrina, starring opposite the sunshine and sparkle of glamour personified – Audrey Hepburn and William Holden – and I was mesmerized by the furrowed brow of the grumpy old guy with a weird name. I still am. Fast forward to one of my High Fidelity-esque Top Fives, When Harry Met Sally..., in which the duo waxes nostalgic about the "best last line of a movie ever" and "the man you've had the greatest sex of your life with." My ears were officially pricked to Casablanca and Bogie.

From his gangster roles to romantic leads, the name Bogart is synonymous with old Hollywood. He remains a style icon and tabloid fodder. His name is a verb. He and his last love, Lauren Bacall, had a vocal disorder named after them. Yet no single cultural reference can encapsulate the charisma of Humphrey Bogart on the silver screen. The Paramount's summer series offers three chances to witness his stardom.

Considered one of the greatest films ever made, Casablanca (1942) leads the list with its legendary cast, including Ingrid Bergman, and famous theme song, "As Time Goes By." Bogart nailed his romantic debut with the famous straight-faced, whiskey-laced, smoke-tinged delivery of the most quoted lines in American cinema. To quote Harry (again), "Of course she wants to stay. Wouldn't you rather be with Humphrey Bogart than the other guy?"

And, of course, there must be more war and romance. Bogart's performance in John Huston's The African Queen (1951) – opposite the powerful and lovely Katharine Hepburn – landed him an Oscar. From one of film's most magnificent years, 1939, comes Dark Victory. Bogart plays a stable-hand in a memorable supporting role to Bette Davis' riveting performance as a socialite with a terminal brain tumor.

So I won't be looking at you, kid, when I finally see Bogart on the big screen.

Dark Victory: Thu., May 29, 7pm (P)

The African Queen: Thu., July 10, 7pm (P)

Casablanca: Sat., Aug. 2, 7pm; Sun., Aug. 3, 4:15pm (P)

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