Humphrey Bogart
Lauren Bacall
Bruce Bennett
Agnes Moorehead
Tom D'Andre
Clifton Young
Rory Mallinson

Delmer Daves



Time: 106 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Film Noir

Being a big fan of Bogart and Bacall, I've tried to see all of the movies they made together. They have a certain chemistry onscreen that can't be denied. I'd never heard of DARK PASSAGE, but decided to give it try. After all, how bad could it be if it's still being played on television and stars two of the cinema's best actors. This isn't their most inspired meeting, but it's good enough to be enjoyable. The plot is overdone and somewhat implausible, however, they manage to make it work. Not everything is Oscar worthy. Of course, without them, DARK PASSAGE would never have made it this long. Bogey and Bacall are the only reason to watch this film. The director tries to make this age-old plot – innocent man escapes from prison to clear his name by uncovering wife's real killer – by filming the first 20-30 minutes from the escapee's point-of-view. It's interesting, but a little annoying since you want to see Bogey's face. Of course they don't show his face, because the plot twist has the convict getting plastic surgery to change his identity – into Bogey. It's an interesting way around the dilemma, it's still Bogey's voice, but it's kind of weird and disconcerting. I guess they thought it would help the audience identify more with the character, seeing everything through his eyes. It does to a point, but I was glad when the film reverted to normal.

Bogey's character Vincent is rescued by Bacall, who agrees to hide him out and gives him money to aid in his escape. It was fate that her character Irene found him on the road. She attended his trial everyday and even wrote to the local paper, claiming her belief in his innocence. They had never met, but she could see that he was being railroaded and thought it grossly unjust. She's also acquainted with the woman who testified against him, Madge (Moorehead), a mean-spirited woman who refuses to let go of the men in her life even if she doesn't want them anymore, just so no one else enjoys their company. It turns out that even with the new face, Vincent can't hide from his past. In fact, he ends up being blamed for crimes he didn't commit and the police offer up a reward for his capture, dead or alive. Everybody wants a piece of him, but he's not going to go down without a fight. He finally uncovers who the real killer is, but it's no use. He has no proof and the killer isn't about to let him escape. What they don't count on is his will to live and have a future with Irene. He's going to get his life back or die trying.

"My only interest in your head is how easy it'll crack open."

It ends much as one would think. The revelation of the killer is a bit of a surprise, but nothing that will take your breath away. The film has its suspenseful moments, which help keep it interesting. The plastic surgery angle seems a bit trite now in the wake of films like FACE/OFF, but I'm sure it was probably quite a twist in its time. As a fan, it's hard watching a Bogart film where he's either offscreen or wrapped under bandages most of the time. It also makes Bacall's almost instant attraction to him somewhat unbelievable. Granted she watched him in the courtroom, but still. Agnes Moorehead makes the most of her screen time as the bitter Madge. You'll wish to never meet up with anyone as energy sucking as that in real life. For what it's worth, DARK PASSAGE is a fairly well-acted melodrama. It's not the best film of it's type, nor the worst. If you're a fan of the lead duo, it's one to watch, especially if you've already seen their more popular films. If not, you probably won't find anything new or worthwhile about this go around.

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