Bogey Man

Radford Mallon knows his Bogey. There's no use trying to stump the actor with trivia questions about Humphrey Bogart; Mallon knows that Bogart was the original Gerber baby, has seen the star's obscure film debut ("It was Bad Sister, for Universal, in 1931 -- which was also Bette Davis' first movie"), his worst film ("Dark Victory, where he played Bette Davis' Irish stableman!"), even Bogey's best ("Definitely The Maltese Falcon; it's the best example of film noir there is").

These bits have come in handy just lately. Mallon has the lead in Arizona Jewish Theatre Company's Play It Again, Sam, the Woody Allen comedy about a loser who conjures up Bogart whenever he's in need of advice.

"I'm having an amazing time working with [director] Claude File," Mallon says. "We don't sit around analyzing characters, we don't memorize the script word for word, we just get up and do it. Claude says, 'Scream, yell, thrash around on the floor, whatever it takes.' And it really works."

When he isn't rolling around on the floor hollering, Mallon can occasionally be found sitting on the floor playing with plastic power tools. "I've done industrial shows, where you get paid to demonstrate products for a manufacturer. The best one I ever did was where I was the Fisher-Price Tool Man. I got paid hundreds of dollars to sit around with businessmen, showing them how to play with rubber hammers."

There are worse ways to make a living. "Like some of the God-awful children's theater I've done," Mallon says. "You really start to wonder if acting is worth it when you're pulling on a pair of tights so you can go out and have kids throw spitwads at you. I'd love to work for Childsplay one day, but I'm cured of wanting to play to an audience that's peeing in its pants."

Here's looking at you, kid.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela