Humphrey Bogart: Rick Blaine vs. Sam Spade

 

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which portrayal was the best. The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…

The case for Sam Spade

A year before Bogart was Rick Blaine he essayed Dashiell Hammet’s PI Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. Some may be surprised to learn that in the novel Spade was a blonde! Now who can think of Spade other than the dark, flinty gumshoe that Bogart played. Indeed, this film, and Bogart’s performance, in particular, was the prototype for virtually all film noirs to follow. Think of it, a completely new genre of movies created because of Bogart’s performance as Sam Spade. Can you beat that?

The case for Rick Blaine

Bar owner. Renegade. Ladies’ man. Nurses a broken heart (“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine”) but still has a backbone. And despite the tough guy talk of looking out for number one (“I’m the only cause I’m interested in… I stick my neck out for nobody!”) his actions in Casablanca continually prove otherwise. Guys want to be him…hell, gals want to be him! Smart. Suave. Resourceful. Honorable. There’s a reason everybody comes to Rick’s!

Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!

  • Stacy

    No contest-Rick Blaine! Handsome, intelligent, gruff with a tender heart.

  • Robert

    No contest: It’s Sam in spades! From rolling his own smokes to bedding his partner’s needy wife Sam is always three steps ahead of his adversaries including, in the end, the seductive Miss O’Shaughnessy.
    Rick Blaine is a poster child for ‘If you booze it you lose it.’ How about that gobbledy-gook at the end about the lives of two little people not making a difference where lets the piece of his life walk away with her husband as if his single life will? Pour me another, Sam.

  • Wayne

    Theyre both so good its really hard to choose, because theyre also such different roles…so will flip a coin and itll probably land on an edge! Itd be nice to imagine others in those roles, such as Clark Gable or Spencer Tracy, who couldve pulled them off maybe as well. It should also be noted that the supporting casts in the Golden Age had much to do with a pictures success.

  • Rick Crump

    Besides Rick having a great name (lol) he also had a heart. He shows his vulerability, rather than just being the tough guy all the time.

  • Johanna G

    Rick – for sure – hard shelled marshmallow. Not that Sam spade wasn’t cool – but Rick wins for me.

  • ANH

    Rick Blaine.

  • Martin Stumacher

    Rick Blaine, that says it all.

  • Blair Kramer.

    Bogart was larger than life and everyone he portrayed on screen was a fascinating character. But consider this… Men and women both enjoy “Casablanca.” But “The Maltese Falcon” is a film that primarily appeals to men. Rick was a tough guy with a soft side. Sam was a tough guy who didn’t really have a soft side (he claimed to love the girl at the end of the film, and then… Well… I’m no spoiler!). So, strictly for the fact that he was more of a romantic than Sam, Rick gets my nod.

  • Bryan R

    For me, Sam Spade! In the novels, he over 6′ tall, Bogie was no where near that tall, and yet when he was on screen, everyone else just shrank from sight!

  • Doghousereilly1

    While Rick was the Bogart protagonist- tough guy who does the right thing in the end- Sam Spade was a pure noir character. Spade really did stick his neck out for nobody.

  • Tom H.

    If you want to compare roles for Bogart- it would more like Rick Blaine and Philip Marlowe from the Big Sleep. In my opinion, the Marlowe role is more iconic than Sam Spade. He was human- try sweating in a hot, humid greenhouse- or posing as a rare book buyer.

  • Csnine

    I know it’s Rick vs. Sam but throw in Fred C. Dobbs, Charlie Allnut, Duke Mantee, and Harry Morgan (Steve). Any true Bogart fan could make a case for any of these great characters.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

    To paraphrase, you have to of course say the lines they brung yu – to play the character they gave yu.  So as much as anything else, it depends upon which character you like the best OR which character you find the most believable.  I like Rick and Sam for a vareity of reasons, but Sam gets my vote because he comes across to me as a man rivitted in his principles, ethics and personal moral code.  I have no doubt he wanted the woman – but there was something greater at play that made her untouchable.  Yeah, it’s the part, so I suppose you could say my vote for Sam goes hand-in-glove with a vote for the way the character was written and played.

  • Dragonfly

    What can I say, Casablanca is my favorite film. So it has to be Rick.

  • Gary Vidmar

    Sam Spade -  A cynical smartass who could play Rick Blaine for a dupe anytime, any place.

  • Gjefferson

    The characters in those early movies were molded by the director that saw the potential in the actors personality Bogart played tough criminals in his old movies that had soft sides like in High Sierra to bad the dog was his down fall, one of my favorites before he played the good guy parts. Sam Spade fell along those same lines.I dont believe there is a fine line between good and bad, dirty and clean water can’t be in the same glass, one will contaminate the other, Characterzation is the same.
    Spade and Blaine both hold back the dark side doesnt let the bad take over. I guess they are equal.
    They both have the same case.
    I vote both. 
     

  • Gwen

    i guess rick blaine. .
    the movie was faithful to the book, but for me, sam spade will always be howard duff–also not blonde

  • Fbusch

    Bogart had a much broader range than these 2 roles. Fred C. Dobbs, Charlie Alnut, and his part in were no angels, reflect his abilities more than these 2 roles. That said, I’ll watch Casablanca often, but the Falcon doesn’t keep my attention as well.

  • Joe

    Both are great roles, but Rick in “Casablanca” is an all-time classic role on an all-time classic movie.

  • Pczak

    Rick had some of the best  and unforgettable lines in  all of moviedom.  Beside its my favorite movie. Here’s looking at you kid!

  • Roger9

    Of the two , it has to be Rick Blaine,a  soldier of fortune, a romantic “We’ll always have Paris”,  a softie “Boss, you did a beautiful thing” and a closet patriot ” Ilsa, I’m not good at being noble, etc, etc” and one liners you can’t beat :”" Rick, why did you come to Casablanca?”  “I came for the waters.”  “But this is the desert.”  With a shrug:  ” I was misinformed!” Pure genius.

  • the other Rick

    I’ll be shocked, shocked, if it isn’t Rick Blaine.

  • JackJones

    MovieFanFare: I don’t like your new format. Would prefer the old one.

  • oc

    spade by a mile!!

  • Arch

    This is like having to decide whether during sex you are on your back or on top.
     

  • Chad D.

    Humphrey’s better performance was of Rick Blaine.  He was great as Sam too.  That being said, if Maltese had stuck to the book, I think their could be an argument that Alan Ladd could have played Mr. Spade.  Blond, mysterious, dripping with detective coolness.  Bogart was great in both.  Just greater as Rick Blaine. 

  • Kingpong

    Although his performance was perfect in both movies, I decided to vote for his Rick Blaine portrayal.
    Sam Spade was a hero of his city but Rick Blaine was a hero of the world!

  • Rick

    Well I guess I’m kind of biased ! Seems I came along not long after my Mum had been to see Casablanca. So no cigar, she called me Rick. 

  • Geministardancer

    Sam Spade… without a doubt!!!

  • Eccolima54

    Without any doubts : Rick Blaine. He is a more realistic character than Spade.

  • Maggie

    I love Bogie in all his movies, but the character of Rick Blaine is my favorite!

  • http://www.facebook.com/2ndEngineer Michael S. Novak

    I like both Bogart made both characters  memorable

  • Sherefe

    Rick Blaine is the quintessential WW II era American.  Spade is great but Rick is truly iconic.

  • Sheltonstill

    No contest- Rick Blaine!!!

  • Captain Midnight

    Like some of the others, I liked both characters portrayed by Bogart but I especially liked Rick Blaine just a little bit more than Sam Spade. However,on a dark stormy night, I’ll watch either movie! Yeah, Bogart is just that good!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6ATD67FKODKBGKXGVUWR53UT2I rick h

    Rick Blaine, perhaps one the most eniigmatic chacters on the scrren takes the best with lines like “of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

  • Bill Ward

    I like Sam Spade, because the character transformed Bogart from a gangster heavy to more iconic roles like Rick Blaine.

  • Robert0320

    I’m an incurable romantic guy so I gotta go with Rick

  • Razrfrog

    Sam Spade because without him we might not have had Roy Earle, Rick Blaine, Fred C. Dobbs, Charlie Allnut or Captain Queeg.

  • Santasc

    Sam Spade is my man. He is get-go from the beginning, is quick on his feet, cagey, tough as nails, no fool to anyone, outricks everybody, and hands to the various crooks and a lying women what they deserve. Typical Bogey with an accent. 
    Rick Blaine, spotlessly dressed in white jacket, chain-smokes, drinks, signs checks, and plays chess to himself waiting for things to happen. When the lady comes in, he plays catch-up, drinks gin, gets weepy, and only when he shoots Strasser the real bogey. Romantic, yes, tough, no? It’s Claude Rains that cracks the good jokes in Casa… which I still ove despite that.  

  • Tim

    sam the man, rick don’t even know what he is, try to be a man rick

  • appleblossom

    Bogie never fails!! However he finally got to put it to Hollywood and became a leading man as Rick Blaine. 

  • Les

    Just about impossible to choose but I am a romantic so I will go with Rick Blaine over the rough edged Sam Spade. Two great portrayals though……….

  • Ed Herrmann

    Both are the creations of shrewd, thoughtful writers but there is no real contest.  Sam Spade has my vote because he is closer to an actual human being in the real world.  That Rick Blaine would wear a nicely cut summer suit and an American fedora in the middle of a hot Moroccan bazaar is simply bizarre.  Clearly “Casablanca” is a brilliant bit of wartime propaganda, wonderfully entertaining but with hardly  any sense of life in a Vichy administered colony.  Pity.  John Huston and Dashel Hammet win easily.

  • James Howard

    Sam Spade was a tough guy  Rich Blane was a tougher guy and did not have to prove it.  He had a woman who loved him and he loved her.  Nowhere did she ever say she loved her husband.  She respected him, but she loved Rick.  Only a special kind of man would let a woman go with another man because he knew she would be better off.  That is love and that is a man.  Here’s looking at you kid.

  • jumbybird

    I’ve never managed to sit through the entire Maltese Falcon without falling asleep, on the other hand, I’ve seen Casablanca about 20 times… nuff said.

    • Kl4col

      Neither puts me to sleep, but Maltese Falcon has me on the edge of my seat–no matter how many times I have seen it.

  • Kl4col

    I prefer Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade. The characters in that movie are all so quirky and unique.

  • Dsucharski

    Tough to pick between the two.  If I have to choose I’d go with Sam Spade.  The way he handles Peter Lorre/Joel Cairo in the film and the young punk who works for Sydney Greenstreet’s character is just classic.  I could watch Maltese Falcon 100 times and still not be tired of it.  But then again the same can be said of Casablanca.

  • Susanjohnston

    I have to go with Rick Blaine every time.  I loved Bogey in almost everything he did, but Rick is a well-spoken, empathetic character..he does the right thing because it is the right thing to do.  Spade was neither.

  • Frank1168

    Regardless of whom he portrayed, Bogie will always be Sam Spade, Rick Blaine, Sgt. Joe Gunn, his character in the “African Queen.” etc. No one, but no one can come close to him as a actor with no equals.