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, Bogart aficionado Sam Marlow (Robert Sacchi) follows in his hero's footsteps by opening his own private eye office. 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 the 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 is 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 sapphires worth a bundle of cash, which Elsa's father was in possession of at the time of his death. Caught in an ever-growing web of intrigue and murder, Marlow probes deeper into the case, leading to an adventure that would've left the real Bogart seething 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 happened to me time and time again; a treasured movie from my past becomes a complete waste of time in the present. It’s a natural progression, I suppose; a result of age and experience, and I was convinced that, if any film would destroy my childhood memories of it, The Man With Bogart’s Face would be the one. There was no doubt in my mind Robert Sacchi’s Bogart impression would quickly get old, and the convoluted story, which takes a page out of more than a handful of Bogart’s films, would eventually stretch itself way too thin.
To my surprise, none of that happened. Far from grating on the nerves, Sacchi fully embodies the late, great Bogie, so much so that, after a while, you start to believe you’re actually watching Bogart, and the story, though a bit clumsy at times, never fails to engage. Oddly enough, I enjoy The Man With Bogart’s Face as much today as I did all those years ago.
Chalk one up for childhood memories!