The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart: The Early Years (1899-1931)

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3 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart: The Early Years (1899-1931)

  1. 42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    This has to be a joke, November 24, 2003
    By 
    Tracy Rowan “dargelos” (Chicago, IL USA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      
    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)
      

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    This review is from: The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart: The Early Years (1899-1931) (Paperback)

    Possibly the worst-written bio I’ve ever read, and the most unbelievable. Here’s a quick run-down so you don’t have to bother:

    1) Everyone has slept with everyone else except for Bogart and Bette Davis. Everyone. No point in keeping score because they’re all doing it.
    2) Most surreal moment, hands down, is George O’Brien showing Bogie an intimate part of his anatomy (and probably not the one you’re thinking of!) and then explaining how he keeps it so young-looking, and tasty.
    3) Most interactions between people include long conversations which the author could not possibly have been privy to, including a lot of pillow talk. Draw your own conclusions.
    4) The narrative is riddled with inconsistencies as small as an inability to decide whether Bogart’s favorite meal was ham and eggs or bacon and eggs (and who really cares anyway?), and as large as one minute he likes a salty-talking babe and the next he finds her incredibly vulgar and off-putting.
    5) Removed by reviewer so as not to offend anyone.
    6) The single most cliche-ridden text I have ever had the misfortune to read.
    7) The author manages to make real people, people like Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks (Jr and Sr) seem like caricatures or pieces of wood…or both.
    8) By page 400, any salacious thrills have descended to the level of “Please your mate” spam.
    9) Bogart comes across very badly; if you’re a big fan, skip this. There are only so many times he can be shocked by the goings-on before you start to want to give him a dime to buy a clue. At best, the author writes him like a teenage girl.
    10) Every attempt at conveying a deeply emotional scene is hilariously inept.

    I feel like I need a great big brush to clean out my brain, now. If I could give negative stars, this book would’ve earned a -5.

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  2. 21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Lurid? Yes. True? I doubt it., December 23, 2003
    By 
    Edward Garea “Edward Garea” (Branchville, New Jersey United States) –
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    (REAL NAME)
      

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    This review is from: The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart: The Early Years (1899-1931) (Paperback)

    In today’s age, when nothing can said to be sacred, Darwin Porter proves that a certain sort of shock value still persists. Porter, who specializes in the kiss and tell biographical novel, turns his focus to a “straight” biography. In this case he digs up the skeletons that kept company in the closet that was the life of Humphrey Bogart.

    In order to concoct such a tome, Porter uses the old tabloid formula: one part truth and one part memories by co-stars (all of whom are conveniently decreased). Blend well, add five parts pure baloney, and presto! A new lurid biography, perfect for those times in the bathroom when a Jackie Collins novel is not available.

    So how true is Porter’s book? He bases Bogart’s early life on incidents that did happen and speculates from there. For instance, it was commonly known that Bogart did not injure his lip during his Naval service as he never saw action. Porter attributes the injury to a beating by Bogart’s father. O.K., that is a plausible explanation. So is the intrigue during his first marriage to Helen Mencken, who was one of the shining lights of Broadway’s Lavendar Set. However, Porter gets himself in deep literary doo-doo when he begins to speculate about everyone Bogart supposedly slept with, and the reader can almost feel the book’s theme derail as Porter plays a “can you top this” game with himself. If Bogart were truly the rake Porter makes him out to be, one wonders how he ever found time to act.

    Porter cites the notes on Bogart’s life by Bogart’s friend and fellow actor Kenneth MacKenna and gossip columnist Stanley Haggart. Porter also depends on the testimony of such co-stars as Joan Blondell, Ruth Gordon, George Raft, Eric Linden and Mercedes de Acosta. The problem here is that the sources were well into the twilight of their years when interviewed and we don’t know for sure whether they were working Porter to an extent or whether they had reached the age where legend becomes fact.

    The use of a form of narrative usually found in a novel is also a hinderance, as neither Porter nor his sources could have been privy to the sort of intimate conversations he claims took place.

    And finally, take into consideration the author’s praise for Kenneth Anger, who brought back into vogue the sort of reporting one thought had died with the demise of “Confidential” magazine.

    The book is a naughty pleasure, but in the final review, reader beware.

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  3. 10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    Just plain silly!, May 17, 2005
    By 
    E. Rubens (Bay Area) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart: The Early Years (1899-1931) (Paperback)

    I knew this book would be more a work of fiction, then biography, but I thought the author might do something fun and creative with this, with a real sense of history. Well forget that. This book is long on gossip, no not gossip but bull sessions the author may of had with some of the folks that knew Bogart. And like most bull sessions have little to do with facts. Might of been better if the author had admitted he was just blowing smoke out his hind quarters and called his book “Lies about Bogie and other Tall Tales from the Jazz Age”.

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