Dark Passage ★★★

70. Dark Passage. 3 stars. 6/21/18.

Watched as part of the June 2018 Letterboxd Scavenger Hunt
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#4. A film starring Humphrey Bogart.

I'm not sure if it's that 75 years of Casablanca pop-culture reverence has rendered me incapable of seeing Humphrey Bogart as a believable heavy anymore, or if the gimmicky first-person point-of-view that fuels the entire first hour of this movie was simply too much, or if I was just not in the right mood when happening to watch this, but I ended up finding the 1947 noir Dark Passage just barely tolerable, despite there not really being anything particularly wrong with it, or at least when compared to other noirs of that period. An otherwise unremarkable story about a convicted killer who escapes from jail and then tries to prove to the world that he's only guilty of beating his overbearing wife, not murdering her, the main thing this movie is now remembered for is the gimmicky point-of-view trick mentioned earlier; namely, with part of the script involving Bogart having plastic surgery halfway through the movie so to disguise himself, the first half is cleverly filmed in a way so that we never see Bogart's pre-surgery face, mostly by using the camera to pretend that we're seeing things exactly the way Bogart himself is seeing them as he makes his way through a foggy and seedy San Francisco. But a little of this goes a long way, and I found the technique to ultimately draw too much attention to itself, an attempt to spruce up what's otherwise a ho-hum plot, including shoehorning in Bogart's real-life wife Lauren Bacall, playing a stranger who gamely becomes Bogart's accomplice and wife-beating enabler for reasons that never end up making very much sense. Decent for a boring Sunday afternoon cable discovery, I would not call this the best that the noir genre has to offer, nor would I particularly recommend going out of your way to see it.

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