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Petrified Forest

Leslie Howard , Humphrey Bogart , Archie Mayo , Friz Freleng    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Adapted from a hit Broadway play by Robert Sherwood and starring original cast members Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart, this 1936 suspense drama is set in an aging desert roadhouse café, where a young woman (Bette Davis) dreams of escaping a dead-end existence spent with her father and a lunkheaded, would-be suitor. Along comes a penniless poet (Howard), a wanderer who has made a mess of his life and crossed the hot sands as a symbolic act of meaningful futility. Davis's waitress is instantly enchanted, and in short order they begin talking about heading out to the world together. Then a twist: the world comes to them--in the form of escaped convicts, led by the monosyllabic Duke Mantee (Bogart), who secretly agrees to the poet's request that the fugitive gangster kill him. Directed by Archie Mayo (The Great American Broadcast), much of the film, perhaps inevitably, looks set-bound. Most of the action occurs in the café, and the script's tension sadly dissipates a bit as villains and hostages stay glued to their seats. The film's enduring appeal has everything to do with the leading performances: the fascinating alchemy of Howard's ethereal air, Davis's sexy urgency, and Bogart's bemused menace. If the story feels a trifle dated and perhaps a bit smug, the actors make it compelling nonetheless. --Tom Keogh

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crooks come home to Roost! July 10 2009
By Robert Badgley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Warners has put six of its' best gangster flicks into this first volume of "Gangsters",and many still pack a mean wallop.
"The Public Enemy"(4 stars),referred still mistakenly by many today as just "Public Enemy",stars James Cagney as Tom Powers,his two girlfriends Mae Clarke as Kitty and Jean Harlow as Gwen,Ed Woods as his buddy Matt Doyle,his girlfriend Joan Blondell as Mamie,and others.The movie involves the story of Tom and Matt as two boys growing up on the mean streets of the big city and their first brushes as young kids with petty criminals and crime.As they grow up we see their graduation into the big time and their climb to success during prohibition as two of its' biggest hustlers in the illegal distribution of homemade booze.Of course crime doesn't pay and Tom gets his,in the end.Skillfully directed by William Wellman(Wings),this was Cagneys' breakthrough part and put him solidly on the path to major stardom in short order.Originally Woods had the Cagney role but they were reversed due to Cagney's powerful presence.This version has two minutes of restored footage re-inserted into it.It is definitely pre-code(/34)and is violent,with(still)quite shocking overt sexual moments and has the famous grapefruit in the kisser scene.
"Little Ceasar"(4 1/2 stars)released in August of /31,was Edward G.Robinson's breakthrough role also.Robsinson gives a rivetting performance as Enricco Bondello who as a petty thief longs to be the number one man and one day starts on the path to become so.It is a slow climb up the ladder as he steps on many toes,displaces bosses and makes many enemies.When you're at the top there is only one way to go and down and out Bondello goes in a hail of bullets;the only fitting end.
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By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "THE PETRIFIED FOREST" (1936) (82 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Starring Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Dick Foran & Joe Sawyer

Directed by Archie Mayo

Burned-out British intellectual Alan Squier wanders into the desert service station/restaurant owned by Jason Maple. Alan finds himself an object of fascination for Jason's starry-eyed daughter, Gabrielle, who dreams of moving to France and establishing herself. Boze Hertzlinger, Gabrielle's bowser attendant boyfriend, grows jealous of Alan, but the penniless, dissipated Briton has no intention of settling down; in fact, as soon as he scores a ride from wealthy tourists Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm, he's on his way out of Gabrielle's life or so everyone thinks. Later that same day, Alan, Gabrielle, Jason, Boze, and Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm are huddled together in the same restaurant, held at gunpoint by Dillinger-like desperado Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) and his gang.

When originally presented on Broadway, Robert E. Sherwood's The Petrified Forest starred Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart. Warner Bros. intended to cast Edward G. Robinson in Duke's role, only to be thwarted by Howard, who told the studio that he himself would drop out of the project if Bogart wasn't retained. The film proved to be just the break that Bogart needed; years later, he expressed his undying gratitude to Howard by naming his daughter Leslie Bogart.

Absolutely riveting!

Leslie Howard & Humphrey Bogart re-teamed a year later for the delightful "Stand-In" (1937).

1. Archie Mayo [Director]
Date of Birth: 29 January 1891, New York City, New York
Date of Death: 4 December 1968, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

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By Nix Pix
The good people at Warner Home Video have outdone themselves on this sassy six pack of classic gangster films. The box set includes William Wellman's "The Public Enemy" (1931)a benchmark acheivement in crime cinema; Raoul Walsh's intense character study of criminal insanity, "White Heat" (1949)and his ode to the ultimate decade of decadence - "The Roaring Twenties" (1939); Robert E. Sherwood's Broadway blockbuster, "The Petrified Forest" (1936),"Little Caesar" (1931)and "Angels With Dirty Faces."
"The Public Enemy is the undisputed trend setting monarch of this box set with James Cagney in his breakout performance as bad boy Tom Powers, a deviant from the wrong side of the tracks who refuses to mellow with age. In "White Heat" Cagney plays the psychotic and sadistic Arthur 'Cody' Jarrett, a ruthless gang leader with a penchant for deriving pleasure from the affliction of pain. "The Petrified Forest" is basically two acts of melodrama with a crime thriller finish, pitting idealists, Alan Squier (Leslie Howard)and Gabby Maple (Bette Davis) against ruthless prison escapee, Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart). In "The Roaring Twenties" Cagney and Bogart unite as a pair of unlikely pals who scratch each other's back for a while, then tear one another to pieces. "Little Caesar" is the slightly off kilter recanting of the Al Capone story, told under the auspices of not so pure fiction. It's loveable fluff mixed with arsenic and twice as explosive with Edward G. Robinson in the driver's seat. And last, but certainly not least, is "Angels With Dirty Faces" a mix of empathy and excitement as two childhood buddies wind up on opposite sides of morality. Good versus evil never came out so good!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
These are spectacular films and this collection is well worth the investment. You can never see movies like this too many times, they never really get old. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Keith Little
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD Quality
The quality of this DVD was exceptional -- the picture is crystal clear and the audio is great. Some of the scenes filmed out of the diner were a bit fuzzy - but noticeable only... Read more
Published on Jan. 9 2011 by emuller
5.0 out of 5 stars Great transition from stage play to film
Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart were in the original Broadway play. And this was made again into a film called "Escape in the Desert. Read more
Published on July 5 2007 by bernie
4.0 out of 5 stars Maudlin Melodrama with A Bogie of a Finish
Based on Robert E. Sherwood's Broadway blockbuster, "The Petrified Forest" (1936) is basically two acts of melodrama with a crime thriller finish. Read more
Published on March 5 2005 by Nix Pix
4.0 out of 5 stars Should Be on DVD!!
I taped The Petrified Forest a couple of years ago when it was shown on TCM and I thought it was a very good movie! Read more
Published on March 18 2004 by Thebookwoman
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating film debut for Humphrey Bogart
Actually, this was not quite Bogart's debut. He had been in a few utterly forgettable films in tiny roles in the early 1930s before returning to Broadway, but this is his "real"... Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002 by Robert Moore
2.0 out of 5 stars Leslie is the star, but Humphrey's the cover guy? Strange...
I could sum this up in a very brief paragraph, and I will, because it simply did not thrill me to the depths of my soul, leaving me appropriately petrified. Read more
Published on July 13 2002 by J B
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Story of Good vs. Evil Battle -- One of the Best
Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard reprise their stage roles as "bad guy/good guy" in this ever timely tale of greed and ruthlessness vs. selfless and compassionate courage. Read more
Published on June 27 2002 by Michael Mathena
5.0 out of 5 stars The Petrified Forest: Still Relevant
There are probably many reasons why THE PETRIFIED FOREST is as watchable today as it was in the 1930's. Read more
Published on June 9 2002 by Martin Asiner
5.0 out of 5 stars The Archetypical American Film
If I was to choose one film to show a foreigner what America was REALLY all about, this would be it. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2002 by OAKSHAMAN
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