Character Witness: Humphrey Bogart: Rick Blaine vs. Sam Spade

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April of 2012.

CHARACTER WITNESS BOGART 2One 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 Humphrey Bogart was Rick Blaine, he essayed Dashiell Hammet’s PI Sam Spade in 1941’s 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!