Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Dark Passage |
Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bruce Bennett, Agnes Moorehead, Tom D'Andrea
Director: Delmer Daves
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Bogey's on the lam and Bacall's at his side in Dark Passage, Delmer Daves' stylish film-noir thriller that's the third of four films Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made together. Bogart is Vincent Parry, a prison escape... more »
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All alone in a dark and sinister place
Mercy Bell | 12/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is among my favorite film noir now. What really made it for me is that it paints a lonely and shadowy emotional landscape and lets us know and attach ourselves to the characters; characters who aren't criminals or necessarily treacherous, but lonely, solitary people who live in a dark world. Essentially it's a character story, and this works so well with the noirish atmosphere. Happily for us, it achieves all this without being depressing, but entirely captivating and very intriguing.
The plot is fairly simple (well, considering its friends in the genre): an escaped convict tries to hide, has his face disfigured (into Humphrey Bogart, which is pretty funny when you think about it), and then tries to unearth some answers involving his past. During his journey Vincent (Bogart) meets up with these people who all have something in common that drives them, loneliness, and his relationships with them add a compelling depth and intensely personal nature to what could have been an average crime story. It drives the film with these instead of some labryinthian plot about a crime or a heist, although it must be said that the plot is still ridiculously exciting, and still contains loads of suspense and enough twists to keep any noir-phile captivated. San Francisco serves as the magnificent moody setting with Bogart running around the city trying to escape the cops and still take care of his own problems. His hide and seek game really grabs you, it's thrillingly done and they bring you right down into it. Bogart turns in a fine performance, playing a sympathetic character who isn't very streetwise and not much of a tough guy at all (there's one scene where he's on the verge of nausea while talking to a detective, it's a very convincing performance from Bogart). Lauren Bacall is solid in this, again fairly different from other characters she's played. My favorites would have to be Tom D'Andrea and Agnes Moorehead in two excellent supporting roles.
I think some people probably find the style used during the first half hour annoying or gimmicky, it's told from Vincent's point of view (for example you'll have Lauren Bacall looking right into the camera, etc) and his face not shown at all. I once saw a movie using the same style and I couldn't get used to it, but with this one because of the context, how well it's used, and the fact that they only use it for the first third of the film, I think it's actually a pretty effective style.
This is a fine, fine film and one worth watching even just for it's take on the noir genre. It's a palpable, atmopsheric journey into a dark crime ridden underworld and allows us to mingle with its lonely people."
"I'll make you look as if you've lived."
Westley | Stuck in my head | 05/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) has been convicted of murdering his wife; at the start of "Dark Passage," he's escaped from San Quentin and is on the run. He has no where to turn, no one to help him. However, he happens upon a helpful painter, Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall), and things start to look up for Parry. Before long, however, trouble comes knocking.
"Dark Passage" is solid crime noir: not quite the top of the genre, but very entertaining nevertheless. Seeing Bogart and Bacall together is always a joy, although "Dark Passage" is a somewhat odd pairing -- mostly because Bogart is not seen by the audience for the first half of the movie. The gimmick is that the movie is seen from his perspective until he undergoes plastic surgery, then the new Parry emerges as Bogart. The technique is a bit stagey and awkward at times, but the talented cast pulls it through. Bogart gives a good performance, although the majority of it is essentially voice-over, and Bacall is as beautiful as ever. The supporting cast is also solid, particularly Agnes Moorehead as the meddling Madge.
Based on the book by David Goodis ("Shoot the Piano Player), the plot is pretty unbelievable, but no more improbable than many other good noir films. The cinematography is quite nice and makes good use of the San Francisco setting. Overall, "Dark Passage" is great fun -- watch it, enjoy it, and forget about the glaring plot holes."
Here's a Second Look at You, Kid
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 11/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although it's the most unfavorably criticized of the Bogart-Bacall teamings, "Dark Passage" is a fascinating film, and one of those little gems which shines brighter with each viewing. The plot, which relies a little too heavily on coincidence and improbable twists, is nontheless engrossing. Bogart plays a convicted murderer on the lam who is trying to keep a low profile while identifying his wife's real killer; Bacall is the gorgeous girl who staunchly believes in his innocence and takes big risks to help him out. Interestingly, the first part of the film is presented from Bogart's point of view, with the other characters talking directly to the camera as if it were him. This places the brunt of the acting burden on his co-stars, and in particular, Bacall; to her credit, she carries the first half of the film expertly, capturing and maintaining viewer interest with her expressive voice and handsome face. Bogart's character finally materializes visually about halfway through the film as an unrecognizable face in a newspaper photo; next as a shadowed figure in the back of a cab; then as a head-bandaged plastic surgery patient; and finally emerges as the hero, the man with Bogart's face.Without giving away any more of the labyrinthian plot, suffice it to say that the supporting cast is uniformly excellent with special kudos going to Tom D'Andrea as a perceptive cab driver, Houseley Stevenson as a quirky plastic surgeon, and Agnes Moorehead as a peevish, man-hungry harridan. Sid Hickox's black-and-white cinematography is both attention-grabbing and beautiful, and the art direction and set decorations are superb (especially love the contrast between Bacall's lavish apartment and the gritty scenes of nighttime San Francisco).The DVD presentation of this noir classic is strictly first class. The video transfer is sharp with excellent contrast, and the sound is clear and crisp. The disc includes the Original Theatrical Trailer, a "making of" documentary, and the Merry Melodies color cartoon "Slick Hare", in which Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd meet up with Bogart, Bacall, and a host of other movie legends. Overall, a wonderful package that offers a wealth of fun and entertainment."
The Softer Side of Bogart & Bacall
Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci | Whitehall, PA USA | 06/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The absorbing documentary featurette on the DVD edition of the 1947 mystery DARK PASSAGE (DP) suggests that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall's participation in the star-studded Committee for the First Amendment, intended to defend colleagues called before the HUAC, might have been the reason that DP wasn't as big a hit as the real/reel-life couple's earlier screen collaborations. However, I suspect that audiences past and present may have found DP harder to cozy up to because, instead of the cool, insolent, wisecracking Bogart & Bacall of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT and THE BIG SLEEP, this film version of David Goodis' novel THE DARK ROAD presents a more melancholy, vulnerable Bogart & Bacall -- which is not at all a bad thing, just unexpected from this star team at that time. That Bogart & Bacall chemistry is still there, but it's sweeter here, as if they'd decided to let down their collective guard and allow tenderness to take over. Instead of the cocksure Bogart character we all know and love, DP protagonist Vincent Parry is wary, fearful, fumbling in his attempts to clear himself of his wife's murder and escape the cops like he escapes from prison in the film's opening scenes. His only allies include the mysterious Irene Jansen (Bacall), who followed his case during his trial and ends up in a position to help hide him while he proves his innocence, and Sam (Tom D'Andrea), a kindly, lonesome cabbie who steers Parry to a back-alley plastic surgeon (Houseley Stevenson) to get a new face to help him elude the law better.
1947 seemed to be The Year of the Subjective Camera, with DP's first hour shot from Bogart's point of view and Robert Montgomery's LADY IN THE LAKE using the technique throughout. Unlike LADY..., DP's plastic surgery gimmick provides a good plot reason for the audience not to initially see Bogart's face, though we frequently hear that unmistakable Bogart voice to make up for it. We also get to see the lovely Bacall and lots of spellbinding character actors in lieu of Bogie. There isn't an uninteresting face or a bad performance in the bunch, with standout performances from the leads, D'Andrea, Stevenson (wise, kindly, and vaguely sinister all at once), Rory Mallinson as Parry's musician friend, the ever-dependable Bruce Bennett, cheap hood Clifton Young (with an oily grin and a cleft chin that looks like it got lost on the way to Cary Grant's face), and especially the magnificent Agnes Moorehead as Madge Rapf, the kind of woman who won't join any club that'll have her as a member, a stylish dame who spreads stress and misery wherever she goes. Sticking her nose into everyone's business, Madge manages to lure people to her and push them away at the same time, and if she can't have you, she'll make damn sure nobody else can have you, even if that means murder. With her delivery dripping honey one minute and venom the next (especially in her climactic scene with Bogart), the quicksilver Moorehead's commanding presence and her unconventional, undeniably striking good looks ensure that you can't take your eyes off her whenever she's onscreen.
If you're looking for a tight mystery plot, look elsewhere. While DP has many suspenseful moments, it's primarily a character study and a mood piece about loneliness, redemption, and starting over, with a strong undercurrent of postwar paranoia, all underscored beautifully by Franz Waxman's stirring music (with contributions by an uncredited Max Steiner). The bus station scene is a touching example of this. But the reactions of people who meet Parry with his post-op face and new name, "Allan Linnell," are so suspicious I wondered if writer/director Delmer Daves (who cameos as the photo of Irene's doomed dad. His real-life kids have bit parts, too) was indicating that Parry was really projecting his own paranoia onto the people around him. His new name in particular makes people look at him like he just dropped in from the planet Neptune: "Linnell? That's a very unusual name." What's so freakin' unusual about it?! What, it's not blandly Anglo-Saxon enough? I wonder if John Linnell of They Might Be Giants fame ever had to field such questions...but I digress... :-)
Even when DP drops the subjective camera style so we can see Bogart in all his glory, the visuals are striking thanks to Sid Hickox's moody black-and-white photography (although with the emphasis on Madge's love of all things orange, I can imagine a partly-colorized version a la SIN CITY, with everything black-and-white except Madge's orange clothes and belongings... :-) and some innovative visual techniques. I particularly liked the use of the glass floor when Bogart discovers a dead body -- a tip of the hat to Alfred Hitchcock's THE LODGER, perhaps? Speaking of Hitchcock, DP and Hitch's 1958 classic VERTIGO might make an interesting double feature since they share themes of loss, loneliness, new identities and fresh starts as well as a San Francisco setting. If you want to see a softer side of Bogart & Bacall, DP is well worth watching. You may also enjoy the DVD's other fun extras, like the original theatrical trailer (for me, the hyperbole of movie trailers of that era is part of their charm) and SLICK HARE, one of the Bugs Bunny cartoons affectionately lampooning Bogart (word has it that Bogart liked to pal around with the animators at Warner Bros.' "Termite Terrace" and he actually did his own voice work for SLICK HARE and 8-BALL BUNNY).