THE PETRIFIED FOREST (1936) B/W 83m dir: Archie Mayo
w/Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, Genevieve Tobin, Dick Foran, Humphrey Bogart, Joe Sawyer, Porter Hall, Charley Grapewin, Paul Harvey, Eddie Acuff
From The Movie Guide: "This screen version of Robert E. Sherwood's smash play is handled with great care by director Archie Mayo and a sterling cast. This was the film that catapulted Humphrey Bogart to fame, but without Leslie Howard's insistence on Bogart for the part of Duke Mantee, Bogart might never have gotten his big movie break.
"This film is really about the confrontation between intellectualism and brute force. Howard, an idealistic writer and world traveler who has grown weary of life's cruelties, finds himself penniless and hitchhiking through the Arizona desert. As he passes the renowned Petrified Forest it occurs to him that he is like it, an ossified relic of the past. Stopping at a dilapidated service station restaurant run by grumpy Porter Hall, Howard meets and falls in love with poet Bette Davis, Hall's daughter. She dreams of studying in Paris. Dick Foran, a college halfback who pumps gas for Hall, is in love with Davis, and therefore jealous of Howard; but Howard assures him he has little to worry about. When a rich couple, Paul Harvey and Genevieve Tobin, arrive at the station, Davis persuades them to take Howard along with them to California. After Howard departs, Hall, Davis, Foran, and Charley Grapewin, Hall's ancient father, hear on the radio that the ruthless gangster Duke Mantee and his henchmen, on the run after committing murders in Oklahoma, are headed into Arizona ...
"Howard was born for the role of the fatalistic lover and lapsed idealist of THE PETRIFIED FOREST. He had played it to the hilt on Broadway, as did Bogart with the Mantee role in the 1935 stage play. But when it came to casting the film, Jack Warner wanted no part of Bogart, who had appeared in small roles in B films some years earlier. He selected Edward G. Robinson to play Duke Mantee. When Howard heard this, he went to Warner, telling him that if Bogart did not get the role of the gangster, he (Howard) would drop out of the picture. Warner needed Howard, so he cast Bogart, who went on to become one of the studio's greatest stars. Bogart's gangster was clearly based on Public Enemy No. 1, John Dillinger (as was Sherwood's original character). Coincidentally, Bogart closely resembled Dillinger, and after studying films of the gangster to perfect his mannerisms, he was a sensation. Yet the Duke Mantee role was also a curse, typecasting Bogart in years to come in the ruthless gangster mold, until 1941 when he appeared as a sympathetic gangster in HIGH SIERRA and, in the same year, as Sam Spade in THE MALTESE FALCON. Davis, too, is outstanding as the culture-hungry girl who yearns to escape the desert and the ominous Petrified Forest. The success of this film would soon land her meatier roles. The film was remade as ESCAPE IN THE DESERT. In 1955, Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Henry Fonda would reenact the original play in an excellent television production."