High Sierra


Year 1941

Ida Lupino as  Marie
Humphrey Bogart   as Roy "Mad Dog" Earle  
Alan Curtis as Babe
Arthur Kennedy as Red
Henry Hull as "Doc" Banton
Donald MacBride as Mr. Baughmam
 
Director - Raoul Walsh
Screenwriters - John Huston
  - W.R. Burnett

This is Bogey's watershed movie, the one where he first becomes a leading man. He gets second billing after Ida Lupino, but he's finally a star. And he makes the most of it.

The screenplay was primarily written by remarkable director John Huston in order to give his friend Bogart a star vehicle. W.R. Burnett, the book author, also contibuted to the screenplay. The director, Raoul Walsh, was that era's equivalent of Steven Spielberg. Walsh was known for mixing seemingly disparate elements together while keeping the action going. This movie had everything going for it that Warner Brothers would allow.

The result is a very good movie, although it's not a "must see" masterpiece.

Ray Earle (Bogart), a criminal, has been bribed into an early parole so that he can rob a resort in the Sierra Mountain Range. Methodical and professional, Earle arrives early and plans out the job. Once the job has been completed, rather than just get paid and walk away, Earle has to wait around. This is his undoing.

In the middle of it all, there's a love story between Roy and Marie (Ida Lupino). Lupino is convincing as the girl made of strong stuff who is looking for a break. She's not jaded and is still hoping for that happy ending. With Earle, she sees a chance to get what she's been dreaming about.

I liked that. Earle is much older than Marie, but they make a convincing couple. I also liked that, even though they never were formally married, Bogart gave her a ring from the stolen goods to symbolize their devotion to each other. I guess it also made it alright with the censors because otherwise the two of them would have beeb shacking up in sin.

Bogart's character is layered as well. He's a tough character, but he's got his own sense of right and wrong. He's got a soft spot for a lady in distress and a loyal mongrel dog. High Sierra has been called "the first Bogart movie" and I've got to agree. It's the first movie that allows Bogart to be equal parts vulnerable guy and hard guy.

If you like Bogart, even a little, I'd recommend High Sierra. Bogart doesn't have many quotable lines, but he has some nice scenes. Like his threatening any potential stool pigeons by tapping his fingers in a staccato tattoo. It makes your spine fell chilly. Or his feverish dreams when he wants to "crash out".

No profanity, nudity, or blasphemy. There's romance, personal honor, and the scenery of the Sierras.


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