The Two Mrs. Carolls’
Key Largo, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Dark Passage, Knock on Any Door, Dead Reckoning, The Big Sleep. Bogie was really cranking out the hits for Warners in the late forties. He also managed to sandwich in epic benders and brawls with wifey #3, Mayo Methot; a notorious affair and marriage to teen dream Lauren Bacall; and a few weeks shooting for The Two Mrs. Carrolls’.
Unfairly considered a piece of crap at the time, The Two Mrs. Carrolls’ is worth watching. In The Two Mrs. Carrolls’ Bogie plays a painter that gets to menace, sneer and romance la la Picasso in an uber gothic mansion. Picasso of course, wreaked more havoc than this guy, but no matter.
The Two Mrs. Carrolls’ is also inexplicably Warners only pairing of Bogart with the super fine Barbara Stanwyck. Though only a few years older, Bogart looks like her father in this flick. Well, actually he looks like he was up all night boozing and then reported to the set. Stories abound of Bogart’s stupifying ability to swill the grain and still recall 100’s of lines of the script — but jeeze — 1940’s make-up can only accomplish so much without special effects.
Recently this storyline has been lampooned to death: The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons (the Simpsons); The Two Mrs. Grenvilles (Dominic Dunne is sooo campy), The two Mrs. Cranes (Frasier) The two Mrs. Grissoms (CSI); The two Mrs. Scottsons (Weeds).
May I be so bold to suggest an even more riveting treatment? How about The Four Mrs. Bogarts? Now that’s a seat snatcher. By the time Bogart slipped a ring on Miss Bacall’s hand he was an old pro at husbandry. And apparently in Bogart’s world four times the charm. Personally I agree with the practice makes perfect motto. Let’s sketch it out:
Wifey#1 – Helen Menken: the “Theatre Actress”
Way before Bogie was Bogie, he was Humphrey or H.D. in the New York Theatre circuit. For nearly ten years, the “pretty boy” sprung on and off the stage in white pants swinging a racket, as in “tennis, anyone?” Bogart married his first wife, older Broadway Star Helen Menken, in 1926 out of a sense of obligation and fear of retribution. She was so well connected he was afraid if he didn’t marry after four years of “dating” he would never get another job. The newlyweds argued over such things as whether it was right to feed the dog caviar when people were starving. Helen loved to discuss “the theater” and tried to promote Bogart’s career to no avail. The marriage crumbled under her sheer star wattage after a year.
Side note: Miss Menken was to remain a Star for years. In 1966 she was awarded a special Tony award for her work in promoting the Broadway Theatre.
Wifey#2- Mary Philips: “The Buddy”
After a year of chasing showgirls, Bogart married fellow actor/boozer Mary Philips in 1928. The tale of Mary Philips and Bogie reads like some twisted Jazz Baby tale. Boy meets girl in play, they flirt. But it is not to be, because Boy marries star! Girl is sad. Girl starts dating boy’s friend. Boy divorces star. Girl dates boy and his friend. Both of them propose! Girl marries boy – finally! Girl and boy live apart for career reasons and agree to see other people — So Modern! Girl moves back in with boy’s friend. They divorce. Girl marries boy’s friend (Ken McKenna) and lives happily ever after.
Side note: Mary Phillips and Kenneth MacKenna would make it out to Hollywood and remain friends with Bogart to the end of his days. Oddly, Kenneth Mackenna (or, rather, his notebooks) is named as the main source for one of the most salacious disreputable biographies ever published for a major Hollywood star: The Secret Life of Humphrey Bogart by Darwin Porter.
Wifey # 3 – Mayo Methot: “Sluggy”
“I wouldn’t give you two cents for a dame without a temper”, Bogart says to Ida Lupino in High Sierra.
Mayo Methot stabbed him with a butcher’s knife. Set fire to the house. Threatened him with a gun at a dinner party given by Gloria Stuart. And gave him a black eye — which delayed shooting a film. But hey, no reason to get a divorce….yet.
When Bogart met Mayo she was the wife of the owner of the Cork N’Bull on Sunset Boulevard. After Bogart started coming round, Mayo got divorced super-quick moved into his house. At the time the met both actors were in a career lull. By the time they were divorced, Bogart was the biggest actor in the planet.
The Bogarts each came to Hollywood via New York and Broadway. Now they were stuck in second billing city. She was 32 and he was 36. They were going nowhere fast. They were each on their third marriage. So they indulged in their two favorite past times: sailing and drinking. When drunk, both got nasty. Bogart’s made snarky remarks until well, Methot hit him. In return, Bogart happily nicknamed her “sluggy”. He also named their yacht “Sluggy” and their home “Sluggy Hollow”. (I wonder which one of dogs was named Sluggy?)
The fighting turned into a modern public relations gold mine. The couple, not yet top tier movie stars became front page gossip fodder. Columnists were delighted. Friend and restaurantuer Mike Rominoff could sell tables to visitors from out of town just for a chance to witness a fight by the “Battling Bogarts.” Bogarts personna began to take shape. His career took off.
And in walked wife #4; 19-year-old Lauren Bacall. Now, it was time for a divorce.
The rest is well-trod history.
The Two Mrs. Carrolls’, 1947. Warner Brothers. Half Sheet. Style B. Very Fine. Paperbacked, Light restoration. Half sheet was shipped folded. Creases at folds have been smoothed at time of restoation. A few pin holes appear to be repaired. Very light tanning.
Note: Black triangles are magnets holding up poster for photograph. Sorry this is not more elegant.