Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dark Passage

Delmar Daves' Dark Passage employs an unconventional method of storytelling. Within the half hour or so of the film, it's mostly told through the eyes of escaped convict Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart). We watch as he hides from the police and within San Francisco, thanks to Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall). All of this unfolds before Vincent decides to hide through plastic surgery.

Following the surgery, Vincent spends the next several scenes with his face wrapped in bandages. It's during these scenes that showcase the acting abilities of not only Bogart but also Bacall. Bogart says so much with just his eyes changing slightly. Bacall in turn does something similar but of a more sensual nature. (Take note of the final moments.)

Once the bandages are removed, Vincent begins to seek out who sent him to prison. In a different way from other crime films of the era, Dark Passage isn't interested in depicting a blood-soaked revenge (This is from 1947, after all.) It still shows a very driven revenge regardless.

Dark Passage is the third of four films starring Bogart and Bacall. Though not as prominent as the first two (To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep), it's clearly driven by the stars' real-life marriage (as was the case with Hollywood marriages at the time). Still, it's not without its moments.

Dark Passage is good but not great. It plays up the new emerging themes of psychology in the post-war era, something that would blossom over the next decade or so. All in all, it's worth a look.

My Rating: ****

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