The Man with Bogart's Face

The Man with Bogart's Face (also called Sam Marlowe, Private Eye) is a 1980 American comedy film, released by 20th Century Fox and based on a novel of the same name. Andrew J. Fenady, author of the novel, produced the film and wrote the screenplay.

The Man with Bogart's Face
The Man with Bogart's Face.jpg
US film poster
Directed byRobert Day
Screenplay byAndrew J. Fenady
Based onThe Man with Bogart's Face
by Andrew J. Fenady
Produced byAndrew J. Fenady
StarringRobert Sacchi
Franco Nero
Michelle Phillips
Olivia Hussey
Misty Rowe
Victor Buono
Sybil Danning
Herbert Lom
CinematographyRichard C. Glouner
Edited byHouseley Stevenson Jr.
Music byGeorge Duning
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • October 3, 1980 (1980-10-03)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million[1]

Plot summaryEdit

A man calling himself Sam Marlowe (Robert Sacchi) has his face altered to resemble that of his idol, Humphrey Bogart, and then opens a detective agency. At first he and his secretary Duchess (Misty Rowe) have meager business, but things pick up after a shooting puts Sam's picture in the paper. Some ruthless people, who are coincidentally also similar to characters in Bogart films (and played by Victor Buono, Herbert Lom, and Michelle Phillips), are after a priceless set of blue sapphires called the Eyes of Alexander (from a statue of Alexander the Great), and Marlowe and Duchess are caught in the middle of it all.


Original novelEdit

The film was based on the debut novel by Andrew J. Fenady who wrote it in long hand over 23 days. Fenady had been writer and producer of television shows and movies for 30 years and was always interested in turning it into a film.[1]

In June 1976 it was announced that Fenady's book would be published next January and that a film version would follow.[2] "Whatever the author had in mind does not come off very well," wrote the book critic of The New York Times, adding "the conception and writing are pretty sophomoric."[3] The Los Angeles Times said Fenady "writes well".[4]

The book was popular enough for a sequel The Secret of Sam Marlow: The Further Adventures of the Man with Bogart's Face.[5]


Fenday took the film to Mel Simon who agreed to provide $4 million.[1] Fenady says he wound up not needing all that money and returned $400,000 to Simon. "I'm a Depression baby, I don't believe in wasting money," he said.[1]

The film was made in May 1979 with independently raised finance from Melvin Simon Productions.[6] In September 1979, when the movie was in post production, 20th Century Fox agreed to pick up all Melvin Simon's movies made in 1979 and 1980 in a deal worth an estimated $10 million.[7][8] They had a fifty percent interest in Bogart, meaning Fox paid Simon $2 million.[1][9]

Star Robert Sacchi was noted for his resemblance to Bogart, and had appeared as Bogart in various roles for over a decade, including various commercials, a Broadway production of Play It Again Sam. He had toured America for four years in a one man show Bogie's Back. "I'm just a working guy trying to make an honest living," he said. "I look the way I do and I always have, and there's not much I can do about it. I never had plastic surgery or wore makeup to look like Bogie."[10]

Fenady said he cast another actor in the role until Sacchi walked in, after which the producer "went into shock. Bob doesn't need to do an impersonation. The physical impact is enough. When he began talking, I knew I had Bogart."[11]

During the filming of one scene, a boat hit John Wayne's converted minesweeper.[12]

It was the last film for George Raft.[13]


The film debuted at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival and was released in Europe before debuting in the US.[1]

The New York Times called it "an intelligent, amiable and often amusing spoof of Humphrey Bogart and the roles he played" although "everyone is so cool that there are moments when the picture seems about to drift off the screen."[14]


Home mediaEdit

The film was released on DVD by Image Entertainment on July 10, 2007.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Tom Buckley (August 15, 1980). "George Segal sheds light on light comedy". The New York Times. p. C6.
  2. ^ Lochte, Dick (June 27, 1976). "Book notes: MacLean brews a potboiler". Los Angeles Times. p. l2.
  3. ^ Newgate Callendar (February 27, 1977). "Criminals At Large". The New York Times. p. 238.
  4. ^ Kirsch, Robert (May 13, 1977). "The Book Report: A Collage of Fiction Eyes". Los Angeles Times. p. g8.
  5. ^ Lochte, Dick (November 2, 1980). "Book notes: John O'Hara: still on the scene". Los Angeles Times. p. 2.
  6. ^ Schreger, Charles (May 16, 1979). "Film Clips: Gasoline: Box Office Star". Los Angeles Times. p. g12.
  7. ^ Aljean Harmetz (September 14, 1979). "Fox Plans To Handle Simon Films: Distribution Pact Covers 1979-80 A Spoof of Zorro". The New York Times. p. D5.
  8. ^ Grove, Martin A. (July 20, 1980). "Movies: At titanic cost, new prop sails on film". Chicago Tribune. p. d32.
  9. ^ Aubrey Solomon (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Scarecrow Press. p. 259.
  10. ^ Davis, Igor (April 2, 1980). "Bogart lookalike 'shweetheart' of Hollywood". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. p. 13.
  11. ^ Vernon Scott (June 20, 1979). "Sacchi Plays It Again". The Washington Post. p. D7.
  12. ^ "John Wayne's Ship Hit Near Catalina". Los Angeles Times. June 5, 1979. p. oc_a3.
  13. ^ Vagg, Stephen (February 9, 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: George Raft". Filmink.
  14. ^ "Film: 'Sam Marlowe,' Nostalgic Look at the Private-eye Genre: [Review]". The New York Times. October 3, 1980. p. C8.
  15. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.

External linksEdit