Saturday, June 6, 2015

Mini-Review - "Dark Passage" (1947)


Right off the bat, this film intrigued me. I knew going in that this was a film that starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, which was the Hollywood acting power couple in the 1940s. But now we get something completely different - For the first hour of the film, we don't ever see Bogart's face.

In fact, for the first thirty minutes, "Dark Passage" is entirely from his point of view. Every character stares directly into the camera, talking to Bogart's character. I can see something like this being done in the 1990s or early 2000s, but in 1947? When Bogart is playing a fugitive on the run, as he attempts to find the murder of his wife, having the first third of the film be from his perspective gets us invested in his struggle and makes it feel like we're the ones on the run.

This just might be one of the best cases of interactive cinema.

On top of that, "Dark Passage" takes full advantage of the Bogart/Bacall relationship. It is often unsettling, yet passionate, as Bacalls' character goes out of her way to support Bogart in his efforts. She was sympathetic to his cause, even while it was in the courtroom, and never gave up her fight to make sure that he was given a fair trail. But it did not seem like either of them counted on falling for the other in the process.

"Dark Passage" is a film noir way ahead of its time, and gives us a "who-dun-it" that never feels stale or repetitive. It takes advantage of Bogart constantly being on the run, as some of the best scenes are him evading the police or having other crooks attempt to bring him in to get the reward money. Consistently entertaining and always imaginative.

Final Grade: A-

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