Humphrey Bogart is probably the most beloved, iconic film star in history, so it’s amazing that these two Bogie vehicles, made just before and after Casablanca, have only now appeared on video. In both films you can see Bogart, his trademark wince and clipped delivery in full bloom, expanding the straight gangster persona he had created in the ’30s into the movies’ archetypal cynical moralist.
Wartime cant completely dominates Action in the North Atlantic, a salute to the merchant marine. Bogie projects a winning wariness as commander of a supply ship en route to Russia, yet with the sea his chief mistress, he can’t show his full range. Though the battles are gripping, you’ll long for a Huston-style wisecrack to break the pious mood. B-