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on 23 January 2006
This review just relates to the lesser known of the three films, Dark Passage. One of the most stangely shot films I have seen, for the first half at any rate - purely first person pespective with Bogart only present in voice until a rather unbelievable twist allows the camera to move back to a more normal position. Unfortunately, with a somewhat mediocre plot, and some half-hearted characterisations of those in the background, this is ultimately a vehicle for Bogart and Bacall, both of whom do their jobs to the unsual high standards. Their onscreen romance, and the curio factor of the camerawork, to some extent rescue the film, however. For fans of Bogart, and film noir, its worth a watch.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 August 2014
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Vincent Parry has been imprisoned in San Quentin for murdering his wife, he escapes at sets about clearing his name. After being picked up, and then hidden by Irene Jansen (who has followed his case closely), Parry gets a tip from a cab driver which leads him to an underground plastic surgeon. After being given a new face, Parry must keep away from the police and find out just who did in fact kill his wife?

OK, so the plot isn't much to write home about, but the star appeal of the leads and a quite simply brilliant supporting performance lifts this noirish thriller way above average. Humphrey Bogart is Vincent Parry and Lauren Bacall is Irene Jansen, so it's with a tinge of sadness that Dark Passage is considered the weakest film of the four collaborations from the special duo. And though in plot and screenplay that may well be true, I maintain that the sexual chemistry here is as electric as it is in The Big Sleep. Has to be said, though, that both Bacall & Bogart are playing second fiddle to a waspish turn from Agnes Moorehead as Madge Rapf, she ups the ante and grabs the attention span when the film drifts close to a stand still.

The clever camera technique of viewing the events from Vincent's eyes works well for the first third of the film (we never see Vincent's face), but heavy with Bogarts' narration, this loses impact once Vincent gets his new face. The mysterious element to the plot doesn't quite get the jolt that it should because sadly we know it's Bogart from the off, So when the reveal comes about it just falls a little flat. Still, the film works as a more than serviceable thriller, with great acting and a very tidy turn of events in the ending make Dark Passage recommended viewing for noirish thriller fans. 7/10
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"Dark Passage," (1947), an American West Coast noir thriller, is probably the strangest of the four films made together by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. That would be the mid-twentieth century pair who were, and are, still, great individual Hollywood stars, and A-list power couple. The picture, written and directed by Delmar Daves, was based on a novel by David Goodis, whose work is still being mined for films ---Tell No-One (Ne Le Dis A Personne) [DVD], and Shoot The Pianist: Tirez Sur Le Pianiste [1960] [DVD] were both based on novels of his. Like all the pictures of the incandescent stars, DARK PASSAGE was made by Warner Brothers, filmed in snappy black and white, largely on studio back lots.

Bogart's character, "I stick my neck out for nobody," had been set by the great, enduring, monumentally popular World War II hit, Casablanca [1942] [DVD], made with Ingrid Bergman, and he rings a recognizable variation on it here. We'll also see some of the familiar Warner Brothers company of supporting actors, but the picture, of course, belongs to Bogie and Bacall, as they fire up the screen.

The moody entertainment is set in that glamorous city, San Francisco of the 1940's, and may be the best screen treatment of the city at that time. Once again, Sidney Hickox's noirish cinematography takes full advantage of its flavorful setting, hills, bay, staircase streets. The building in which Bacall's character, Irene Jansen, supposedly lives, its glass elevator, and her duplex apartment, are masterpieces of the "moderne" style then highly popular. Bogart plays Vincent Parry, a doctor unjustly convicted of killing his wife; at the film's opening, he's just escaped from San Quentin, coming home to clear his name. For the first hour, we never see him; only see everything through his eyes, then a new filmic technique. The gimmick is, he has plastic surgery so as to no longer be recognizable to those who knew him before; he then becomes physically the Bogart we know. Housely Stevenson plays the plastic surgeon Dr. Walter Coley: his scenes are treated in a most Frankensteinian way. Bacall's character, of course, chooses to believe and help Bogart's. The plot takes some truly odd turns: we're to believe that Agnes Moorhead, who is surely riveting in her own fashion, could give Bacall a run for her money in the Bogart stakes. As if. Bacall doesn't sing as she usually does, she's supposed to paint, for a change. But she looks sensational, and has, in addition to that apartment, some stylish clothes and jewelry -- note the opals. She's also got an eye-catching, memorable "woody" station wagon, of the kind many of us wish they still made: the recent Chrysler PT "Jimmy" offering was just a pale, faux imitation.

Well, the Bogie-Bacall canon, as mentioned above, consists of but four pictures, and this is one of them. Bacall is still with us ---hallelujah! - -but no longer making films. If you want all their work, you will want this.
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VINE VOICEon 1 March 2004
This box set is excellent value for money. At full price you get 2 films plus the special edition of a cinema classic. Just the films alone would make this a must have.
What can you say about Casablanca? This is a well told, moving and superbly acted film. It has everything from the hard bitten loser in love to an ending where the best man gets the police chief. No Bogart does not say the immortal line. However who can forget the great dialogue of "Round up the usual suspects"?
This film became a classic from humble origins. They used a second hand set, not the first choice of lead and a drummer for a pianist. This was meant to be more of a filler than an enduring legend. Yet there is something that makes this film shine.
You get a great print of the film. So good it looks like new. The extras are some of the berst you'll see. Especially when you think that this film is over 60 years old and the leading actors are no longer with us. My brother-in-law has never seen this. He told me he didn't want too 'cos its in black and white and he'd be bored. I called him a Philistine. Who's right?
Coupled with it you get Dark Passage & High Sierra. You get superb performances from Bogart and Bacall and 2 superb films. This helps to reinforce the point that Bogart was never a one trick pony but a consistently good actor. He is watchable as a crook or a good guy.
This is 3 great films at 1 great price. Buy it, watch it and treasure it. If only Hollywood would learn from its past and still produce consistently good films. This proves that a high budget is not required to produce films that will last forever.
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on 12 July 2012
I ordered this film so I could add it to my small collection of Bogart films. Having seen this film years ago, I was happily surprised to find it still intriguing and clever. I love the way its filmed. Bogart and Bacall are perfect, as they always were together. And Agnes Moorehead portrays a perfectly awful, selfish and ultimately deadly woman.
Sorry I cant remember the name of the actor who plays the taxi driver - but he's pitch perfect too. I just love Bogart films and I think this is a classic.

This film may not have aged as well as some other Borgart and Bacall films such as 'To Have and to Have not' or 'The Big Sleep', but I think Dark Passage and even Key Largo are really under rated films. And if anyone has a trumpet I can borrow, I will happily blow it loud and clear for this film. Toot!
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on 15 February 2004
I was bowled over by this forgotten piece of Forties High Style, wacky and quirky and unpredictable as it is. Yes, the idea of subjective camera for the first third of the film was campy and too much, and certainly neither Bogey nor Bacall added significantly to the allure established elsewhere. The Waxman musical score is great, though, and the supporting cast, and the lines and situations they are given!, is brilliant, one of the best ever. The couple Bogey overhears at the train station! The plainclothes cop with all the weird questions in the diner! And, above all, the cabbie driver and his wild stories about goldfish and the seven hills of San Francisco! I laughed with delight all the way through, and I readily forgive the film that it is no straightforward thriller. So much the better!
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on 18 December 2011
there were possibilities with "dark passage," the subjective camerawork at the beginning gave the film a slightly added dimension and the on-screen chemistry between humphrey bogart and lauran bacall is as good as ever.
sadly though, this film suffers from an implausible story, a thin narrative(like bogart's thin hair) and the finale is disappointing. the reasons why i think this is, is due to the ending feeling rushed and underdeveloped. there was no big build-up or anything like it. also, there could have been a bit more action and incident.
a great pity.
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on 22 September 2015
Starts superbly and with great mystery promise and premise with all sorts of clever ideas (the subjective camera) and characters (the cabbie, the plastic surgeon) but gets bogged down and the mystery and thriller elements become compromised by the holes and convenient inconveniences that start to appear like an unravelling cartoon sweater. Lauren is luminous and then wasted as the script falters and the production veers into something quite different right up to the unconvincing clichéd resolution. A shame.
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Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) is imprisoned for killing his wife. Irene Jensen (Lauren Bacall) who had her father falsely imprisoned for the same thing assumes that Vincent is also falsely accused and waits for her chance to help with his escape. For quite some time we only see the world through his eyes, and never see his face. This perspective has been very effective in other movies and adds to the mystery in this movie.
Who is the guy with the circus tent upholstery in his car?
Will he prove to be innocent?
And will the man and woman strike up a relationship?
What perils lie ahead?
All right this is for all you analyzers these movies contain similar themes:
The escape scene is a classic and the barrel is used again in "Wrongfully Accused" (1998).
The first person prospective is used again in "It Came From Outer Space" (1953) where you see the world from an alien viewpoint.
(Agnes Moorhead) The orange car is close to the red hair in "Bachelor in Paradise" (1961).
The end relates to "On the Beach" (1959).
Second time through this movie, you will find your self, rooting for the good guy, want to warn him that you saw the movie before, and know what is going to happen. However, does he listen? Of course not. Nevertheless, maybe next time he will. Get out your popcorn and be aware of strangers barring chocolates.
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on 6 May 2015
Not only one of the best noirs but one of the greatest films I've seen period. The camerawork is top notch, treating Bogart as the camera in the first half is masterful filmmaking. I suspect this film was a major influence on Hitchcock's Vertigo, has some similarities, including the San Francisco location.
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