Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Overlooked Movies -- Dark Passage

I know you've seen it, but have you seen it recently?  Well, I have, not having seen it in nearly 50 years but having remembered bits of it pretty well.  I also remembered that I enjoyed it.  What I didn't remember was that it was crammed with more incredible coincidences, improbable events, and gimmicks than just about any other movie I've ever watched.  Not that any of that spoiled the fun.

Bogart is Vincent Parry, falsely imprisoned for the murder of his wife.  He escapes and is picked up by two different people, one of whom is Lauren Bacall.  The gimmick here is that we don't see his face for about an hour.  The movie's shot from his POV, like Robert Montgomery's The Lady in the Lake.   It works a little better here because Bogart spends a lot of time looking at Lauren Bacall.  You can't go wrong there.  

After Bogart gets plastic surgery, we get to see his face.  He's supposedly been made to look older than the photo of Vincent Parry we've seen, but he doesn't.  Not that it matters.  Now he looks like Bogart, and he's looking for the real killer, who's also now the killer of his best friend, with Bogart being blamed for that one, too.  And who's also so obvious that nobody could guess wrong about who it is.  After all, there aren't any other suspects.

One place the movie really shines is in the character actors in the supporting roles.  Every single one is great, but top honors go to Houseley Stevenson as the plastic surgeon.   Okay, maybe to Agnes Moorehead.  Spit out that scenery, Agnes, it's been well chewed.

The movie's ending is so cheerful and optimistic that it's hard to believe that David Goodis wrote the novel the movie's based on, but who cares?  It's what you want.

Not believable for even a few seconds, Dark Passage is nevertheless great fun and well worth watching.


August West said...

Bruce Bennett also gives a solid performance. It seems he pops up in a few of Bogart's movies. I loved the B/W shooting of the film in San Francisco.

Deb said...

Saw it just last week (I think) when TCM was running an all-day Bogart tribute (each day in August they're honoring a different star). I'm glad you mentioned "Lady in the Lake"--another film with a visual gimmick. I think "Dark Passage" handles it better--perhaps because it doesn't insist on carrying out through the whole movie.

Another movie I watched on Bogart day was "The Two Mrs. Carrolls", a movie I somehow missed. Bogart was a "mad artist" and Barbara Stanwyck played his second wife--and victim. Not great, but worth a viewing.

Patrick Murtha said...

For me the acting palm goes to Tom D'Andrea, whose cabby is unforgettable.

Richard Robinson said...

I really dislike films in which the camera is the eyes of the main character. Don't give me a trick, give me a well made movie. It's why Lady In The Lake is my least favorite of the Chandler films, and this my least favorite - I think - of the Bogie films. Bah!

Ronald Tierney said...

It's worth it for the old San Francisco footage alone.