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Humphrey Bogart as Supporting Roles: 5 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor

By    |   Monday, 30 Mar 2015 03:00 PM

Before he became a leading man in the 1940s, Humphrey Bogart built up his acting career through portraying a series of memorable supporting characters. These Humphrey Bogart roles show his versatility as an actor. He brings to life everything from a cold-blooded gangster to a love-smitten stable hand.

Here are five roles on the big screen where Bogart did not need to be the main character to make a lasting impression:

1. Harve, "Three on a Match" (1932)

Many people forget that Bogart made a name for himself playing menacing characters. As Harve, he is a ruthless gangster who kidnaps a woman and her small son for ransom. When the money pickup does not go as planned, Bogart tries to have the little boy killed and drives the woman to commit suicide to save her son's life. His gangster character is a cold individual, only interested in personal gain and not how his actions impact other people.

2. James Frazier, "Angels with Dirty Faces" (1938)

Bogart plays James Frazier, a shady lawyer who isn't opposed to either bribing officials or trying to kill Rocky – the lead character played by James Cagney. Frazier even plots to kill a priest at one point. Anything goes if he can do it to protect himself from Rocky. Bogart showcases his ability to bring even a truly despicable character to life.

3. Michael O' Leary, "Dark Victory" (1939)

One notable departure from Bogart's 1930s gangster roles can be found in this movie. He plays an Irish stable hand in love with Judith Traherne — the main character played by Bette Davis.

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Bogart brings an upbeat personality to the part in contrast to many of his other roles during this period. His character is tinged with tragedy, since Judith rejects his love to marry a man she truly loves.

4. Chuck Martin, "Invisible Stripes" (1939)

Bogart gives his own spin on the typical ne'er do well. He plays Chuck Martin, an ex-con released from prison after five years who falls right back into a life of crime. Martin commits a string of burglaries and dies when his own men turn on him. Bogart's character never tries to make a better life for himself at any point.

This serves as a great example of a prototypical Bogart role before he begins flexing his acting muscles in the 1940s.

5. John Murrell, "Virginia City" (1940)

Bogart plays a criminal with a twist in this film. His character, John Murrell, is a Mexican who leads a group of bandits known as Murrell's Guerillas. He double-crosses his partner, played by Randolph Scott, when the two plot to steal $5 million in gold. Murrell is eventually thwarted in his plans by the hero, played by Errol Flynn.

This is one of the few Westerns that featured Bogart during his career.

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Before he became a leading man in the 1940s, Humphrey Bogart built up his acting career through portraying a series of memorable supporting characters. These Humphrey Bogart roles show his versatility. Here are five roles where Bogart didn't need to be the main character to make an impression.
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