Key Largo Reviews
Whenever you get John Huston and Humphrey Bogart together you're going to get something special and Key Largo isn't any different. The film has a deep noir feel, yet it transplants itself from the typical locale of seedy neighborhoods of the inner cities to what was a more quiet area that becomes isolated even further by the hurricane hitting. Bogart is the reluctant hero, beaten down by the war and the post war world that wanders into this situation by accident. He's not looking for trouble, but is prepared to deal with it if necessary. There is an attraction between McCloud and Nora (Bacall, the groomless fiancÚ), but nothing really comes to fruition due to the situation they're in, giving us believably that wasn't seen in films of this era. There's too much going on for this people to become romantic. Other circumstances may allow it, but not this set. Of course, Edward G. Robinson playing an egocentric gangster is his calling card. He's great in the role and plays it over the top when needed, but still has the ability to tone it down when the situation requires.
Key Largo is a movie that builds onto itself, with a kind of snowball effect that compounds itself as the film goes on. There is a sense of claustrophobia when the film begins, that opens up as the film rolls on right along as Johnny Rocco loses control of the situation. And yes, the hurricane represents a huge character in the film is the boss over all that it surveys. Huston plays this card, but doesn't over play it, a great move by a master. Key largo is one for the ages, a great noir piece that paces great with wonderful acting. A testament to all of those involved in the film.
Key Largo re-teamed Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall for the 4th and final time and it is yet another gem in their resumes. Lionel Barrymore, Edward G. Robinson, and Claire Trevor round out a tremendously talented cast. It helps that Key Largo is based on a play which gives the actors plenty of room to thrive in this crime drama film noir. Trevor won the Oscar for supporting actress and she's incredible, but Barrymore never fails to amaze me in a wheelchair. Between this, You Can't Take it With You, and It's a Wonderful Life, he has gave me some of the most enjoyable movie experiences, so thank you Mr. Barrymore.
The film delves into a man's (Bogart) post World War II trip to his friends hotel when they are stranded with a bunch of gangsters during a hurricane. The premise itself thrives as a stage production by it also manages to give us an engaging and thrilling cinematic experience as well. I love how there is never any real assurance from the writing or direction that this film will be a happy ending, which makes it such a great noir. A hurricane and a bunch of gangsters? The only actor qualified for such circumstances has to be the one and only Humphrey Bogart.
In all seriousness, Key Largo is a really good film. With a setting that sticks to the confinement of the hotel for 90% of the film, I can't speak highly enough of the directing and acting. It's difficult to make an action film with plenty of vivacious settings to be engaging for 90 minutes but Key Largo manages to it with one hotel, that's impressive. The character arcs of both Robinson's Johnny Rocco and Bogart's Frank Mcloud are interestingly paralleled. Both have nowhere to go or fit in and they both plenty of desires and hopes. To me, the scenes between both of them were the most fascinating. So overall, Key Largo is a classic. It gives you everything you want from a noir standpoint, while also creating a solid crime thriller in the process.
+Barrymore always steals the show
Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) has recently concluded his military service coming achieve the rank of Major and is looking forward to returning home. First he had to discharge a lamentable but honorable duty, visit the family of a friend and subordinate, George Temple, who gave his life during the campaign in Italy. Frank arrives in the family owned hotel Key Largo Florida where he meets George's widow, Nora (Lauren Bacall) and his father, James (Lionel Barrymore), the owner of the hotel. His past the tourist season and there is a severe hurricane predicted to hit the area. The hotel has only six guests remaining; the stylish Toots (Harry Lewis), ill-mannered Curly (Thomas Gomez), stoic (William Haade), subservient Angel (Dan Seymour) and the attractive are clearly alcoholic young woman Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor). The sixth member of the group remains mysteriously in his room never venturing out. Frank is not interested in engaging the men in conversation rather race of the opportunity when he can speak to Nora and James alone. He tells them stories of the bravery that George exhibited are close to became as friends under such conditions. Because of that Frank was able to recant minute details of his friend's wife and father-in-law. Nora mentions that George's letters frequently mentioned Frank in adaptable light and she becomes noticeably attracted to him.
As the storm draws closer the local sheriff, Ben Wade (Monte Blue), and his deputy, Clyde Sawyer (John Rodney) stops by to inform the temples that the pair of small time criminals, the Osceola brothers, has escaped custody. They are members of the local Seminole Indian tribe and James promises to use his influence with them to expedite their capture. Soon after the sheriff leaves the Seminoles arrives seeking shelter from the storm. The fugitive brothers are among them. Soon afterwards the men who had been staying at the hotel pull out their guns and hold Frank Nora and James hostage. As the situation intensifies the identity of the mysterious sixth man is revealed, violent crime boss, Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson). The savagery of this character is clearly depicted many with hosted drink from Gaye forcing him to sing if she wants it. After singing a song a cappella Johnny with hosted drink stating the performance was substandard humiliating public comments on her lack of talent and aging looks. In the scene that could only be as effective as it was with such incredible talent occurs when Frank pours himself a drink and gives one to Gaye. She eagerly accepted turning to him to say "thank you fella". Johnny steps in and viciously begins to slap Frank reminding him that he said she does not get a drink. Without reacting to the physical abuse Frank simply turns to the woman and replies, "you're welcome." One of the trademark aspects of Humphrey Bogart's immeasurable talent is to portray a man who can exhibit exceptional strength under duress. Mr. Robinson had built much of his career portraying characters that were unrelentingly vicious and cruel. The see the two men in a scene that's a remarkably demonstrates these aspects of their abilities is certainly one of the highlights of the film but this movie has a chain did cinematic status by having a plethora of such moments.
I never had the opportunity to see the play by Maxwell Anderson performed on stage. I'm certain it would be a fascinating experience. Many plays adapted to screenplays failed to capture the intimacy the stage affords the story. That is certainly not the case here. Co-authoring the screenplay with John Huston is Richard Brooks, Oscar-winning writer was provided Scripture such notable classics as 'Elmer Gantry', 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' and 'In Cold Blood'. Most of his scripts have one thing in common depicting people and ordinarily stressful situations. When combined with the incomparable John Huston the result is a film but not one scene is wasted, every moment is filled with subtleties brought to life by the nuanced performances of some of the screens greatest actors. The central theme may be the class retrieving a modest heroic man and a megalomaniac criminal but underlying it all this is such a contest of wills pales in comparison to the indomitable force of nature as a hurricane which is bearing down on their location. This adds to the ever-increasing sense of claustrophobia impose not only by the limitations of the hotel by the ever worsening weather.
There's efficiency to the script that packs an incredible amount incredible amount of character development and exposition in every page of dialogue. In lesser hands then the co-authors the story would have undoubtedly meandered only to collapse in on itself. This is where the triple threat known as John Huston saves the day. He is an experienced actor of unparalleled ability she is able to tap into as he writes his scripts. As a director he knows best how to connect with the actors enabling them to translate the written word into a mesmerizing performance. When you have an actor of such status as Lionel Barrymore the results are fated to be incredible. Mr. Barrymore was largely confined to a wheelchair in his hand severely crippled by arthritis. Several scenes he is challenging his actual physical agony into his performance utilizing his own personal suffering to enhance the portrayal of his character. This is simply put a movie that help to define film noir is one of the most popular genres of its time.
Claire Trevor bagged the 1948 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn as Robinson's drink-deprived moll. But it's Robinson who really steals the show, running rings around a handicapped Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and dishing out grimaces that'd cause cage fighters to recoil and weep.
Key Largo is some of Huston's finest and most atmospheric work; a tense crossover flick not easily forgotten.