Thursday, June 27, 2013


I watched DARK PASSAGE (1947) the other night. I recorded it off of TCM. It's a good film noir that I'd never seen before and it's one of four films that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made together. The other films include THE BIG SLEEP, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT and KEY LARGO.

DARK PASSAGE, uses a unique narrative conceit for the first act of the film. Almost everything we see is shot from the subjective point-of-view of Bogart who plays an innocent man framed and convicted of his wife's murder. He escapes from prison at the beginning of the film and is determined to find his wife's real killer and clear his name. Does that set-up sound familiar? David Goodis, who wrote the novel this film was based on, filed suit many years later against the producers of the television series THE FUGITIVE, claiming that series stole from his work.

With everything seen from Bogart's p.o.v, we don't see the actor's familiar face until after he's had plastic surgery and emerges with a new face in the second act of the film. For an actor of Bogart's stature, this was a pretty bold move to star in a film in which he doesn't appear on screen for almost a third of the movie. Bogart is aided in his search for the truth by Lauren Bacall, a wealthy young artist whose own father was also wrongly convicted for a crime he didn't commit. Bogart encounters a two-bit crook who is wise to the truth and tries to blackmail Bogie. The crook meets an unfortunate, albeit accidental, demise. Bogart finally confronts his wife's real killer but that person also takes a fall from a great height leaving Bogart even more desperate and wanted by the police. He engineers an escape plan to South America and tells Bacall to meet him there whenever she can. She does and the film ends with the couple reunited (and on the lam) in Peru.

Directed by Delmer Daves, DARK PASSAGE is a tight, compelling noir thriller that is well worth seeing. Bogart and Bacall are always fun to watch together and the point-of-view gimmick is actually fairly well executed. Recommended.  

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