James Temple: Are you thieves or what? You want money, is this a robbery?
Toots: Yeah, Pop, we're gonna steal all your towels.
For 1948, this would be considered an all-star lineup back in the day, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson star in a thriller directed by John Huston. It is set around a hotel in the Florida Keys during a tropical storm. The problem is, a gangster and his cronies are holding people hostage inside. Not as much a film noir as it is a crime thriller, the movie works due to the presence of certain characters and the wonderful dialog throughout.
Bogart plays Frank McCloud, a war veteran, who goes to the hotel to tell a widow and a father about a man who served under him in the war.
Once arriving at the hotel, McCloud meets the father, Mr. Temple played by Lionel Barrymore and the widow played by a very good looking Lauren Bacall. This first act provides a good setup for the characters to talk out what they already seem to know about each other, as well as introduce us to some other characters.
Then the second act kicks into gear when Edward G. Robinson shows up as the famous gangster Johnny Rocco. It is because of Robinson's character that the somewhat slow and talky middle section of this movie works. His character is mean, ruthless, and a bully. Along with his cronies, Rocco's former alcoholic girlfriend, Claire Trevor, is present as well, and Rocco takes almost every opportunity to knock her down.
Frank McCloud: When your head says one thing and your whole life says another, your head always loses.
While this all goes on, Frank goes in and out of putting priority over what is right and how to keep himself alive. Meanwhile, Bacall is also subject to Rocco's torment, as well as Mr. Temple, who is crippled no less.
The plot thickens as a hurricane kicks up, causing a worried Rocco to get more and more concerned, as he waits to conduct some business from the hotel and then leave for Cuba. There is also a subplot surrounding a police chief and some Indians that weaves its way into the story.
By the time the third act kicks into gear, blood has been spilled and Frank must go toe to toe with Rocco.
Along with the wonderful dialog, Huston makes good use of the storm as a great visual motif to essentially work with Rocco's state of mind. I keep mentioning Rocco, and its due to how wonderfully evil and memorable his character is. Sure this is another Bogart and Bacall movie, and they are good, but Robinson really holds the movie together.
That being said, there are some cool scenes for Bogart to just lay out his cards and show the bad guys what's up.
A very good movie, bringing two big stars up against each other.
Frank McCloud: You don't like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don't you? If it doesn't stop, shoot it.