When he was a young boy, Stephen Bogart remembers fondly a trip he took with his father, Humphrey Bogart, on a boat around the Catalina Islands in California. Stephen had a small plush skunk toy he used to play with by putting inside a crab trap cage. One night, he caught some crabs and left the cage over the side of the boat. The next morning, Humphrey encouraged Stephen to pull up the cage and what he found was a lobster with its tail eaten off. Laughing, Bogie tells the boy the fish ate the lobster.
“A few years later,” says Bogart over the phone, “I found out that lobsters swim backwards, so there was no way the lobster could get in the cage with its tail sticking out! It was that they had caught lobster, ate lobster tail that night, and stuck the lobster in the cage to make me think I caught it.” Who knew Bogie could be such a jokester?
For the writer, his memories are scarce when it comes to his famous father, and for that reason, he felt inclined to organize the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival to “help keep him alive in the minds of a lot of people and also showcase his work and the work of the era.”
Along with his business partner, Bogart felt it was time for a film festival dedicated to noir and the legendary films of his father. So three years ago, he began putting things in motion and the inaugural Humphrey Bogart Film Festival kicked off in 2013.
“We just felt it was time to start to introduce my father and noir films to a new generation — and to please the fans, because you really can’t get [classic noir films] anymore,” Bogart says.
When it came to deciding on the location, that was easy. Back in 1948, Bogart’s parents, Humphrey and Lauren Bacall, starred in the film Key Largo. “When we were trying to decide where to do the film festival, Key Largo was a natural place. When you think about it, the movie was called Key Largo, my parents were in the movie together, so it was the perfect place — even though I don’t think my mother has ever set foot in Key Largo,” adds Bogart with a laugh.
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Since its inception, Bogart comments on how the festival has evolved in the last three years. For one thing, in years one and two, guests were invited to dress up to the nines for a formal party on the last day. “We realized that that wasn’t Key Largo-ish and that wasn’t what people coming to Florida were looking for… so it’s a lot different and a lot more informal now. You’re going to Key Largo, you might want to go fishing while you’re there or take a ride on the African Queen, so it’s definitely more laid back.”
They have also added a film contest for young filmmakers and more panels and film screenings this year. The films cost $10 to attend and there will be a memorabilia showcase as well as various panels. “But the most important thing, of course, is going to see the movies because the movies are so great.”
The Humphrey Bogart Film Festival
Begins tonight in Key Largo and lasts until Sunday, October 25. Visit bogartfilmfestival.com for a complete schedule.