Saturday, August 21, 2010

#15. The Man With Bogart's Face (1980)

Directed By: Robert Day

Starring: Robert Sacchi, Franco Nero, Michelle Phillips

Tag line: "The face may be familiar. The mystery is brand new"

Trivia:  This was the final film role for George Raft

After undergoing plastic surgery to make him look like his idol, Humphrey Bogart, Sam Marlow (Robert Sacchi) follows in his hero's footsteps by opening his own detective agency. 

His first client is Elsa (Olivia Hussey), a young woman whose father was recently murdered. Simply put, she wants to know why. 

During the course of his investigation, Marlow meets a variety of characters who are also "interested" in her old man's demise, including Commodore Anastas (Victor Buono) and his daughter Gena (Michelle Phillips), as well as a Turkish tycoon named Hakim (Franco Nero). Rounding out the motley crew of suspects are Mr. Zebra (Herbert Lom), and Wolf (Jay Robinson), two shady characters who are "partners" in more ways than one. 

But what this group is really after are the "Eyes of Alexander", a pair of priceless sapphires that Elsa's father had in his possession at the time of his death. Caught in an ever-growing web of intrigue and murder, Marlow does his best to sort it all out, resulting in an adventure that would have made the real Bogart green with envy.

The Man With Bogart’s Face was a cable-TV favorite of mine in the early 80’s, and having not seen the film in over 25 years, I was prepared for the inevitable disappointment that was sure to follow a fresh viewing.  

It’s happens all the time; a treasured movie from my past becomes an embarrassment in the present, and I figured if any film was going to shatter my childhood memories of it, The Man With Bogart’s Face would be the one.  Robert Sacchi’s Bogart impression would probably get on my nerves after a while, and the convoluted story, which borrows from a number of Bogie classics, was going to stretch itself way too thin.

To my surprise, none of that happened.  

Far from grating, Sacchi fully embodies the late, great actor, so much so that, after a while, you start to believe you’re actually watching Humphrey Bogart, and the story, though a bit clumsy at times, never fails to engage. 

In a refreshing twist. I actually enjoy The Man With Bogart’s Face as much today as I did all those years ago.

Chalk one up for childhood memories!

1 comment:

Peter Nielsen said...

Hi, Dave
I have actually seen this little gem! I don't remember much about it, other than watching it and liking it at the time... This is definitely due for a re-watch!
Thanks for bringing it back to my attention!