Movie. Key Largo, 1948.

Posted by T on September 28, 2006
By Title, Movies

A romance/crime thriller in the manner that only Bogart and Bacall ever truly mastered.

Wild, beautiful setting on the Florida keys.

The Max Steiner musical score is almost worthy of Puccini. That and the luminescent black and white photography along with the dialogue content will conspire to make you catch your breath in the scenes involving Bogart, Bacall, and Lionel Barrymore.

Edward G. Robinson as Johnny Rocco could not be played better. The hoodlums, the extras, and Claire Trevor are good. My favorite: an Indian woman, who claims to be 108; Nora is skeptical, because she also has a son that is 112. The old woman lights up a cigarette.

Here’s a great line: “After living in the USA for more than 30 years they call me an undesirable alien. Me, Johnny Rocco; like I was a dirty Red or something.”

(Of course, we need to realize that this is undoubtedly a jab by Red Hollywood against the rising anti-communist tide of the time, mocking the inverse, that a Red would be treated like some kind of dirty gangster or something. But, take it at its own level.)

The movie, based on a Maxwell Anderson play, tries to explore the issue of cowardice and heroism: is self-sacrifice really worth it? Is it not “better to be a live coward than a dead hero?” as one of the characters says. The hurricane is a foil to explore who is the coward. But finally, the movie doesn’t really assimilate this theme very well. Finally it comes down to the gut. “Your head says one thing, but your whole life says something else.”

There are some consistency problems in character and plot; but who’s noticing? For me, this gets a D index as I can’t imagine it ever wearing out.

D3

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