Who is Sam Spade? Who is Philip Marlowe?
Well, for many film buffs, Bogie will always be Bogie. Granted, there's plenty of wiggle room within the Humphrey Bogart persona: the paranoia of Fred C. Dobbs, Dixon Steele, or Captain Queeg; the ruthlessness of those many gangster roles; the lovable grunginess of his turn in The African Queen. But when he dons his detective's fedora and lights his cigarette, there's an iconic continuity to the look, the mannerisms, the speech. One could justifiably assume that Bogart's iconic screen presence eclipses any individual character tics, whether he's supposed to be playing San Francisco sleuth Sam Spade (in John Huston's 1941 The Maltese Falcon) or L.A. dick Philip Marlowe (in Howard Hawks' 1946 The Big Sleep). Yet at root, Spade and Marlowe are very different people - one might even say fundamentally so, despite the superficial similarities and notable overlap. Within the hardboiled detective persona, they represent different motivations and actions - at least as originally conceived.