Tough Without a Gun by Stefan Kanfer
The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart (Vintage)

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Synopsis

Humphrey Bogart: it’s hard to think of anyone who’s had the same lasting impact on the culture of movies. Though he died at the young age of fifty-seven more than half a century ago, his influence among actors and filmmakers, and his enduring appeal for film lovers around the world, remains as strong as ever. What is it about Bogart, with his unconventional looks and noticeable speech impediment, that has captured our collective imagination for so long? In this definitive biography, Stefan Kanfer answers that question, along the way illuminating the private man Bogart was and shining the spotlight on some of the greatest performances ever captured on celluloid.

Bogart fell into show business almost by accident and worked for nearly twenty years before becoming the star we know today. Born into a life of wealth and privilege in turn-of-the-century New York, Bogart was a troublemaker throughout his youth, getting kicked out of prep school and running away to join the navy at the age of nineteen. After a short, undistinguished stint at sea, Bogart spent his early twenties drifting aimlessly from one ill-fitting career to another, until, through a childhood friend, he got his first theater job. Working first as a stagehand and then, reluctantly, as a bit-part player, Bogart cut his teeth in one forgettable role after another. But it was here he began to develop a work ethic; deciding that there were “two kinds of men: professionals and bums,” Bogart, for the first time in his life, wanted to be the former.

After the Crash of ’29, Bogart headed west to try his luck in Hollywood. That luck was scarce, and he slogged through more than thirty B-movie roles before his drinking buddy John Huston wrote him a part that would change everything; with High Sierra, Bogart finally broke through at the age of forty—being a pro had paid off.

What followed was a string of movies we have come to know as the most beloved classics of American cinema: The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, The Big Sleep, The African Queen . . . the list goes on and on. Kanfer appraises each of the films with an unfailing critical eye, weaving in lively accounts of behind-the-scenes fun and friendships, including, of course, the great love story of Bogart and Bacall. What emerges in these pages is the portrait of a great Hollywood life, and the final word on why there can only ever be one Bogie.
 

About Stefan Kanfer

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Stefan Kanfer's books include Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball; Stardust Lost: The Triumph, Tragedy, and Mishugas of the Yiddish Theater in America; and Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando. He was a writer and editor at Time for more than twenty years and was its first bylined film critic, a post he held between 1967 and 1972. He is also the primary interviewer in the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Line King and editor of an anthology of Groucho Marx's comedy, The Essential Groucho. He is a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library and recipient of numerous writing awards. He lives in New York and on Cape Cod.
 
Published February 1, 2011 by Vintage. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Tough Without a Gun

Kirkus Reviews

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Former Time contributor Kanfer (Somebody: The Reckless Life and Remarkable Career of Marlon Brando, 2008, etc.) tackles the screen legend, last deeply examined in competing 1997 biographies by Jeffrey Meyers, and A.M. Sperber and Eric Lax.

Jan 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

The New York Times

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A study of Humphrey Bogart’s life and his lasting influence on American film.

Feb 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

The New York Times

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The on-screen and off-screen personas of Humphrey Bogart are well chronicled, but no less seductive more than 50 years after his death.

Feb 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

New York Journal of Books

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What follows is a faithful retelling of the life of Humphrey Bogart, son of well-to-do Dr. Belmont DeForest Bogart and famed illustrator and early feminist Maud Humphrey, whose unhappy union produced three children, Humphrey, the eldest and only son, and his sisters Frances and Catherine.

Feb 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

Book Reporter

I’ve been wracking my brain to see who among the movie stars of the last 50 years has anywhere near the cinematic gravitas of Humphrey Bogart.

Mar 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

The Washington Times

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Should you check the bibliography at the end of Stefan Kanfer's biography of Humphrey Bogart, you'll discover there are already some 27 biographies of the actor in print, not counting 70 secondary source books. And this is not to mention the seven books devoted to the iconic "Casablanca," an addi...

Mar 18 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

Los Angeles Times

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No other star of Hollywood's golden age continues to hold audiences in quite the way that Humphrey Bogart does.

Feb 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

AV Club

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A respectful but intimate biography of Humphrey Bogart skips the salacious bits in order to better examine his fame and his persona.

Mar 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

Los Angeles Times

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Bogart didn't put up with phoniness, and that quality is key to the enduring respect for him.

Feb 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

Dallas News

What Kanfer means is that instead of fading into cinema history, Bogart continues to influence actors and directors, inspire writers and loom large even as we’ve moved into new definitions of American masculinity.

Feb 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

Denver Post

Kanfer traces Bogart's personal life, including three brief and tempestuous marriages that set the stage for his whirlwind courtship of Lauren Bacall that began during the filming of "To Have and Have Not."After Bogart's death, Jean-Paul Belmondo mimicked Bogart's mannerisms in Jean-Luc Godard's ...

Feb 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

The Daily Beast

I knew Humphrey Bogart was cool practically before I knew .

Feb 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

Bookmarks Magazine

Since the man's life and his iconic films have already been well-studied, they argued, Kanfer fills the need for a synthetic work that brings together the existing scholarship and uses it to explain Bogart's appeal.

Jan 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

Statesman.com

But rather than probe the potent masculine motifs inherent in the Bogart persona (so well exploited by Woody Allen in 1972's "Play It Again, Sam"), the author offers up a smattering of Bogart-modeled ephemera: A trendy line of furniture here (" \u2026 the Trench Coat Chair, the Santana Sofa, and ...

Feb 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Tough Without a Gun: The Life...

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