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The story begins as Major Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) pays a visit to the family of one of his G.I. buddies who was killed in Italy during WWII. He finds the welcome from the hotel's only "guests" chilly except for Gaye Dawn (a funny and perhaps prescient Hollywood stage name) played by Claire Trevor who is drunk and befriends him. After a bit McCloud discovers that the hotel's owner Nora Temple (Lauren Bacall) and her invalid father-in-law James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) have been tricked into allowing Rocco's gang to stay and now, as a tropical storm begins to blow, are being held at gunpoint. McCloud's delicate task is to keep the megalomaniac and murderous personality of Rocco under some control so that he doesn't murder everyone.
Note that this is a splendid cast, and they all do a good job. Note too that Huston adapted this from a play by the versatile American playwright Maxwell Anderson. So the ingredients for a good film are clearly in place; and aside from some self-conscious mishmash with the Seminoles of Florida, this is a success. Anderson's desire to explore the psychopathic personality (some years later he adapted William March's novel The Bad Seed into a stage play) finds realization in Huston's direction and especially in Robinson's indelible performance.Read more ›
Major Frank McCloud (Bogart) shows up at the Largo hotel in the Keys to see his war buddy's father and widow to give them some news about how George died a hero. McCloud himself is disillusioned from trying to save the world and has been drifting since the war in both a personal and literal sense.
Nora (Bacall) had been drifting before she met George and begins to feel this same connection to Frank as they talk about their lives since the war. There is a maturity here as Huston shows a deeper aspect to caring about someone instead of the fireworks of physical attraction. The themes of loneliness and isolation run through every aspect of this film.
Frank once again must decide whether to save the world when the Largo is taken over by fallen gangster Johnny Rocco (Robinson). Rocco was once big and despite his deportation back to Cuba by the United States government as an undesirable, plans to be big again. Frank had gone to war as an idealist, hoping to rid the world of gangsters like Rocco but now views it as a lost cause.
But as Nora keeps telling Frank, your head may say one thing but your whole life says another. As the tension of being held hostage as a hurricane approaches the sweltering Keys builds, Frank slowly begins to go with his whole life rather than his head, breaking his own personal isolation from the fight he gave up.Read more ›
The story is simple enough: after the war an ex-marine (Bogart) visits the Key Largo hotel owned by the father of one of his men, who was killed in action. He meets the dead soldier's wife (Bacall) there, along with a group of gangsters led by the ferocious Rocco (Edward G. Robinson). A hurricane whips up, and the group are trapped in the hotel whilst themes of loyalty, greed, personal honour, love and the value of life are explored and laid bare.
If only modern scriptwriters had this ability to speak so profoundly without preaching! The origins of the piece in a play are clear but inconsequential, as they are in a companion piece, The Twelve Angry Men. The story moves quickly and dramatic high points occur with heart-stopping frequency.
The other reaon that you should see this film is the beautiful print that is presented here on the DVD. It's so fresh and sharp, with such wonderful contrasts and tonal gradations, that it makes a movie that was made in the late forties look like it was made yesterday. It doesn't look like an "old" film any more, but a top quality black and white indie movie.
A great movie, presented beautifully. No extras, of course, but the movie doesn't need them.
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