Saturday, May 22, 2010

Who is Leonard Bremen?

A weekend!  I just took a look at the counter I put on the side of my blog, and I am up to 69 page views.  Of course, many of them are my views, but someone else must be looking at the blog.  Please pass around the URL to anyone you know.  It would be great if this catches on and I inspire a few people to watch some older classic films.  I will be submitting the blog to some blog search sites and maybe that will help.

I got to thinking about Humphrey Bogart.  What is your absolute favorite Bogart film?  And Casablanca doesn't count because that is everyone's favorite!  My vote goes to a 1947 film called Dark Passage with Lauren Bacall.  It had a wonderful cast with Agnes Moorehead, Tom DeAndrea, and Bruce Bennett (but I am not much of a Bruce Bennett fan).

If you haven't seen it, the scene is San Francisco.  Lots of hills to add to the suspense.  Bogart breaks out of prison after being jailed for a murder he didn't commit.  Bacall finds him and gives him shelter.  He eventually gets plastic surgery to start a new life, but there are the name of Agnes Moorehead.

There are twists in the plot and suspense in several scenes,  Suspense when he is almost found crossing the Golden Gate Bridge; when Madge (Moorhead) comes to the door; what will he look like after surgery (before the operation the doc says, "I could make you look like a bulldog!"); or later at the diner being questioned by a cop.  Plus the chemistry between Bacall and Bogart, and the happy ending...this is one great movie.

Let's look some bit actors who really added atmosphere to the film.  Houseley Stevenson plays the doctor, who must have been quite good.  There was no sign of the surgery on Bogart's face when the bandages are removed.  Not a stitch in sight!  Stevenson brought a little sadistic terror to his scenes.  A perfect choice for film noir.

Look for a quick view of Vince Edwards.  Yes, Dr. Ben Casey plays a cop in this film.  According the IMDB, this was his first film.  Former Our Gang member, Bobby Young, had a good part in the film.  He was billed as Clifton Young, but he didn't make it to the finish of the film, meeting his end under the bridge.

My favorite bit actor in the film has but a few short lines as a bus station ticket agent.  His name is Leonard Bremen (1915-1986).  As a character actor, he played in a number of TV shows later.  In his early career, he was also in:
Pride of the Marines with John Garfield
Buck Privates Come Home with Abbott and Costello
Song of the Thin Man - Not my favorite Thin Man, but worth watching
The Babe Ruth Story with William Bendix
The Inspector General with Danny Kaye
Ma and Pa Kettle go to Town
On the Town, Tender Trap, and Man with the Golden Arm, and others with Frank Sinatra
Bells are Ringing with Judy Holliday and Dean Martin
and the list goes on.  Hard to believe one of his last roles was on Diff'rent Strokes!  He almost always played a moving man, cab driver, bartender, waiter or truck driver.  No starring roles, but 131 important roles.

He may be my choice for a Bit Actor fan club.


  1. I agree with you about Leonard in his role as the grumpy clerk at the bus station in "Dark Passage." It was only a very brief part, but he was really good.

  2. Yes, "Dark Passage" is one of my own all-time favorite movies. Unfortunately, not too many of my friends and others I've mentioned the title have any idea compared to "Casablanca," "The Maltese Falcon," etc. As far as Leonard Bremen, he was also very entertaining in his rather minor role in the 1953 movie "Vice Squad."


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