Dark Passage (1947)

The Dark Passage. 1947. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

This is the only Bogart/Bacall film I hadn’t seen, until last night. It’s good. Not great, but good. Bogart plays a convicted murderer who escapes from San Quentin, then meets Lauren Bacall, who believes Bogart is innocent of the crime, and was in fact present every day of the trial. In a bizarre (and unbelievable, to be honest) series of events and meet-ups, Bogart and Bacall scheme to get Bogart exonerated or quickly out of the country.

An interesting gimmick is that we don’t see Bogart’s face throughout the first third of the movie, as that portion of the film is shot from a first-person perspective. It’s kind of distracting, and not especially impressive, but otherwise, the film is shot with great lighting and shadows, although there are times when Bacall is over-lighted.

Agnes Moorehead plays a despised neighbor, and she’s just one of several very good supporting actors in a movie filled with interesting characters.

The Bogart/Bacall chemistry is wonderful, of course, and when the characters finally kiss, it’s like a huge relief. Bacall does some nice acting here; you can see her lips tremble slightly as the kiss winds down to its conclusion, and she is overcome with the sadness of Bogart’s departure. It’s quite terrific.

The extras are really good, too. There’s a little mini-doc about the making of this film, plus an old Merrie Melodies short with Elmer Fudd trying to prepare Bugs Bunny as Bogart and Bacall’s dinner. There are some quick animated cameos of Alfred Hitchcock, Carmen Miranda, and other stars of the era, too.

Of the four films Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall did together, I’d put this fourth, but one of them had to be fourth. In order of preference:

Key Largo (their final film together)
To Have and Have Not (Bacall’s debut)
The Big Sleep (hot as heck, but confusing story)
Dark Passage (their first post-marriage collaboration)

7/10, but a bonus point for starring my favorite actor and favorite actress makes it 8/10.

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