Sunday, November 2, 2014

Key Largo

If there was an undisputed king of film noir, it would probably be Humphrey Bogart. The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, In a Lonely Place...the man could command a room just by being in it.

Surprisingly, in John Huston's Key Largo, Bogart isn't the lone main draw of the film. Indeed, as with any studio film of the time period, the cast is certainly one you can't conjure up nowadays. (Ah, the era of the studio contract.) Among some of Bogart's co-stars are Lionel Barrymore, Lauren Bacall (their fourth and last collaboration), Edward G. Robinson and Claire Trevor. Of them, Robinson and Trevor (who won an Oscar for her work) steal the show.

Even though the general mood of Key Largo is that of a film noir, it doesn't stay that way for the whole film. (In fact, the noir feeling doesn't come into play until Robinson shows up.) The film fluctuates between noir, melodrama and disaster film, a strange menagerie of genres to say the least.

Huston certainly had his fair share of dabbling in different material throughout his career. The general consensus of his work overall ranges from eternal classics (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) to somber adaptations (The Night of the Iguana) to films that aged like a fine wine (The Misfits). So where does Key Largo fit into? Well, to be honest, it's more of the second category, albeit a flawed entry. (Then again, Huston had his share of misses throughout his career.)

Key Largo is good though certain elements of it show the film's age. (And not generally in a good way.) It's certainly one of the lesser-acclaimed entries of the Huston/Bogart collaboration (and, to an extent, Bogart/Bacall) though it's worthy of a look at least.

My Rating: ****

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