Bijou Postwar Years - Top of the Bill

BOGART: In Defense of My Wife   page 2 (back to page 1)

B and B

practically oblivion to the spotlight of world attention without a chance to learn values, without any past experience to go by. It was enough to turn any girl's head.

Then from one extreme to another, before she had time to catch her breath, she took a panning that would have staggered even a seasoned star. The plain fact of the matter is that Betty was lauded for one picture out of all proportion to her desserts and panned for another that wasn't by any means her entire fault. Mind you I am not alibi-ing Betty for what the critics said about her in "Confidential Agent." Betty would kill me if I did because she doesn't go in for that sort of thing. What I think is unfair is that Betty was the target for what the critics admitted was a poor picture. She didn't write it, she didn't direct it, she didn't play all the parts. Yet the critics acted as if the whole thing were her fault. They went out of their way to knock her just as they had built her up.

Bogie loves boats, is making a sailor out of Betty.

We were down on the boat at Balboa when the picture opened and the notices began coming in. I watched Betty's reactions, not knowing at first how to help her. She was badly hurt, there was no doubt of that. Then I decided that the only way to handle the thing was to kid her, and pretty soon we got to the point where she was kidding about it too. She has a sense of humor, you see. She has a sense of values, too. And she has guts.

To Have and Have NotSTRANGELY enough all this happened at just abut the time when Betty was thinking seriously of giving up the screen. Long before we ever met she had determined that some day she would put marriage and a home above any ambitions for a career. She had got her success with her first picture. She had two others coming up, "The Big Sleep" and "Confidential Agent." We were happily married, and she decided the time had come to be a homemaker for me.

I didn't want to influence her one way or another. I didn't feel I had the right to make an important decision of this kind for her. So I told her that either way was okay with me but it was entirely up to her. I kept thinking of her youth, her eagerness to be successful, her love of acting. What right had I to change her course?

For weeks this hesitancy and indecision kept up. One day Betty would make up her mind to quit, and then Warners would come along and offer her a new deal with a big boost in salary. She was going through hell trying to make up her mind. My heart went out to her, but I kept my mouth shut.

Then, when that "Confidential Agent" blast hit her everything was changed. She couldn't quit. It would look as if she were running away. Since she was getting the rap there was nothing for her to do but take it and then go on to prove that her first success was no fluke, that she could really act if she got the right opportunity.

Sometimes you're just a stinker


My own feeling about "Confidential Agent" is that Betty shouldn't have been in it. It was wrong casting right from the start. She didn't want to do the part but Herman Shumlin, the director, insisted on having her and the top men at the studio went along with him. They had plenty of opportunity to judge her performance as the picture was being filmed. They saw the rushes every night. If they weren't satisfied with her they could have put someone else in the role. No doubt they figured that her terrific popularity from "To Have and Have Not" would insure big box office success for this picture too.




In "To Have and Have Not"

from Photoplay, June 1946

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