TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944), THE BIG SLEEP (1946), and KEY LARGO (1948).
I'm happy to now review the last film in the collection, DARK PASSAGE (1947).
I saw DARK PASSAGE for the first time in many years at the 2015 Noir City Film Festival, with Stephen Bogart in attendance. While I've liked the other Bogart-Bacall films since I was a young classic film fan, DARK PASSAGE is one which has only grown on me more recently. I've found I'm now more willing to suspend disbelief, and simultaneously I've gained an appreciation for the film's noir style and great location shooting -- in this case in San Francisco.
Bogart plays Vincent Parry, who escapes San Quentin, where he was serving time for his wife's murder. He's picked up by Irene Jansen (Bacall), who improbably wants to help Vincent. She sympathizes as her own father was unjustly convicted of murder. Small world!
A nice guy cabbie (Tom D'Andrea) takes Vincent to a disreputable plastic surgeon (Houseley Stevenson) who rearranges his appearance for a couple hundred bucks. Since the movie begins shot from Vincent's first person view and then shows him covered in bandages, it's quite a ways into the movie before we actually see Humphrey Bogart. It's worth noting this film was released the same year as LADY IN THE LAKE (1947), which also famously used first person cinematography.
Vincent gets to work solving his wife's murder, as well as the murder of a good friend, all while falling for Irene.
It's a fairly crazy story, not least due to its very abrupt ending, but it's also good fun. Bogart and Bacall are always a charismatic team, and the interaction of their characters is quite appealing. They're well supported by Agnes Moorehead, Bruce Bennett, and Douglas Kennedy.
Another plus is the great use of Mercer and Whiting's classic song "Too Marvelous For Words," originally written for the Warner Bros. film READY, WILLING & ABLE (1937).
DARK PASSAGE was written and directed by Delmer Daves, based on a novel by David Goodis. It was filmed in black and white by Sid Hickox. The running time is 106 minutes.
The Blu-ray is crisp and clear. The disc includes a trailer, cartoon, and a brief "making of" featurette, all carried over from the original WB DVD release.
Now that all four Bogart-Bacall films are out on Blu-ray, I wouldn't be surprised if the Warner Archive eventually releases them in a collection. Whether acquired singly or together, these Blu-rays are beautiful and well worth picking up.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.