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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All alone in a dark and sinister place
This film is among my favorite film noir now. What really made it for me is that it paints a lonely and shadowy emotional landscape and lets us know and attach ourselves to the characters; characters who aren't criminals or necessarily treacherous, but lonely, solitary people who live in a dark world. Essentially it's a character story, and this works so well with the...
Published on December 7, 2004 by Mercy Bell

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great actors, nice location shots, but the plot was a bit suspect.
First off, I'm a huge Bogart fan and thoroughtly enjoy classic film noir movies and this flick had the potential of being another great Bogart classic. All the actors in this film including the supporting cast were recognizable and respectable actors and the movie was filmed on location in post-WWII San Francisco, and included some impressive scenic shots around the...
Published on August 7, 2006 by Daniel C. Markel


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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All alone in a dark and sinister place, December 7, 2004
This review is from: Dark Passage (Snap Case) (DVD)
This film is among my favorite film noir now. What really made it for me is that it paints a lonely and shadowy emotional landscape and lets us know and attach ourselves to the characters; characters who aren't criminals or necessarily treacherous, but lonely, solitary people who live in a dark world. Essentially it's a character story, and this works so well with the noirish atmosphere. Happily for us, it achieves all this without being depressing, but entirely captivating and very intriguing.

The plot is fairly simple (well, considering its friends in the genre): an escaped convict tries to hide, has his face disfigured (into Humphrey Bogart, which is pretty funny when you think about it), and then tries to unearth some answers involving his past. During his journey Vincent (Bogart) meets up with these people who all have something in common that drives them, loneliness, and his relationships with them add a compelling depth and intensely personal nature to what could have been an average crime story. It drives the film with these instead of some labryinthian plot about a crime or a heist, although it must be said that the plot is still ridiculously exciting, and still contains loads of suspense and enough twists to keep any noir-phile captivated. San Francisco serves as the magnificent moody setting with Bogart running around the city trying to escape the cops and still take care of his own problems. His hide and seek game really grabs you, it's thrillingly done and they bring you right down into it. Bogart turns in a fine performance, playing a sympathetic character who isn't very streetwise and not much of a tough guy at all (there's one scene where he's on the verge of nausea while talking to a detective, it's a very convincing performance from Bogart). Lauren Bacall is solid in this, again fairly different from other characters she's played. My favorites would have to be Tom D'Andrea and Agnes Moorehead in two excellent supporting roles.

I think some people probably find the style used during the first half hour annoying or gimmicky, it's told from Vincent's point of view (for example you'll have Lauren Bacall looking right into the camera, etc) and his face not shown at all. I once saw a movie using the same style and I couldn't get used to it, but with this one because of the context, how well it's used, and the fact that they only use it for the first third of the film, I think it's actually a pretty effective style.

This is a fine, fine film and one worth watching even just for it's take on the noir genre. It's a palpable, atmopsheric journey into a dark crime ridden underworld and allows us to mingle with its lonely people.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I'll make you look as if you've lived.", May 30, 2005
By 
Westley (Stuck in my head) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dark Passage (Snap Case) (DVD)
Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) has been convicted of murdering his wife; at the start of "Dark Passage," he's escaped from San Quentin and is on the run. He has no where to turn, no one to help him. However, he happens upon a helpful painter, Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall), and things start to look up for Parry. Before long, however, trouble comes knocking.

"Dark Passage" is solid crime noir: not quite the top of the genre, but very entertaining nevertheless. Seeing Bogart and Bacall together is always a joy, although "Dark Passage" is a somewhat odd pairing -- mostly because Bogart is not seen by the audience for the first half of the movie. The gimmick is that the movie is seen from his perspective until he undergoes plastic surgery, then the new Parry emerges as Bogart. The technique is a bit stagey and awkward at times, but the talented cast pulls it through. Bogart gives a good performance, although the majority of it is essentially voice-over, and Bacall is as beautiful as ever. The supporting cast is also solid, particularly Agnes Moorehead as the meddling Madge.

Based on the book by David Goodis ("Shoot the Piano Player), the plot is pretty unbelievable, but no more improbable than many other good noir films. The cinematography is quite nice and makes good use of the San Francisco setting. Overall, "Dark Passage" is great fun -- watch it, enjoy it, and forget about the glaring plot holes.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent -- 10 stars, October 12, 2004
This review is from: Dark Passage [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is one of my favorite movies and Humphrey Bogart is wonderful and so is Lauren Bacall. I take the video out many times and watch it and always enjoy it. The San Francisco backdrop, stylish photography and excellent performances make it a treat you won't forget.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Softer Side of Bogart & Bacall, June 9, 2005
This review is from: Dark Passage (Snap Case) (DVD)
The absorbing documentary featurette on the DVD edition of the 1947 mystery DARK PASSAGE (DP) suggests that Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall's participation in the star-studded Committee for the First Amendment, intended to defend colleagues called before the HUAC, might have been the reason that DP wasn't as big a hit as the real/reel-life couple's earlier screen collaborations. However, I suspect that audiences past and present may have found DP harder to cozy up to because, instead of the cool, insolent, wisecracking Bogart & Bacall of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT and THE BIG SLEEP, this film version of David Goodis' novel THE DARK ROAD presents a more melancholy, vulnerable Bogart & Bacall -- which is not at all a bad thing, just unexpected from this star team at that time. That Bogart & Bacall chemistry is still there, but it's sweeter here, as if they'd decided to let down their collective guard and allow tenderness to take over. Instead of the cocksure Bogart character we all know and love, DP protagonist Vincent Parry is wary, fearful, fumbling in his attempts to clear himself of his wife's murder and escape the cops like he escapes from prison in the film's opening scenes. His only allies include the mysterious Irene Jansen (Bacall), who followed his case during his trial and ends up in a position to help hide him while he proves his innocence, and Sam (Tom D'Andrea), a kindly, lonesome cabbie who steers Parry to a back-alley plastic surgeon (Houseley Stevenson) to get a new face to help him elude the law better.

1947 seemed to be The Year of the Subjective Camera, with DP's first hour shot from Bogart's point of view and Robert Montgomery's LADY IN THE LAKE using the technique throughout. Unlike LADY..., DP's plastic surgery gimmick provides a good plot reason for the audience not to initially see Bogart's face, though we frequently hear that unmistakable Bogart voice to make up for it. We also get to see the lovely Bacall and lots of spellbinding character actors in lieu of Bogie. There isn't an uninteresting face or a bad performance in the bunch, with standout performances from the leads, D'Andrea, Stevenson (wise, kindly, and vaguely sinister all at once), Rory Mallinson as Parry's musician friend, the ever-dependable Bruce Bennett, cheap hood Clifton Young (with an oily grin and a cleft chin that looks like it got lost on the way to Cary Grant's face), and especially the magnificent Agnes Moorehead as Madge Rapf, the kind of woman who won't join any club that'll have her as a member, a stylish dame who spreads stress and misery wherever she goes. Sticking her nose into everyone's business, Madge manages to lure people to her and push them away at the same time, and if she can't have you, she'll make damn sure nobody else can have you, even if that means murder. With her delivery dripping honey one minute and venom the next (especially in her climactic scene with Bogart), the quicksilver Moorehead's commanding presence and her unconventional, undeniably striking good looks ensure that you can't take your eyes off her whenever she's onscreen.

If you're looking for a tight mystery plot, look elsewhere. While DP has many suspenseful moments, it's primarily a character study and a mood piece about loneliness, redemption, and starting over, with a strong undercurrent of postwar paranoia, all underscored beautifully by Franz Waxman's stirring music (with contributions by an uncredited Max Steiner). The bus station scene is a touching example of this. But the reactions of people who meet Parry with his post-op face and new name, "Allan Linnell," are so suspicious I wondered if writer/director Delmer Daves (who cameos as the photo of Irene's doomed dad. His real-life kids have bit parts, too) was indicating that Parry was really projecting his own paranoia onto the people around him. His new name in particular makes people look at him like he just dropped in from the planet Neptune: "Linnell? That's a very unusual name." What's so freakin' unusual about it?! What, it's not blandly Anglo-Saxon enough? I wonder if John Linnell of They Might Be Giants fame ever had to field such questions...but I digress... :-)

Even when DP drops the subjective camera style so we can see Bogart in all his glory, the visuals are striking thanks to Sid Hickox's moody black-and-white photography (although with the emphasis on Madge's love of all things orange, I can imagine a partly-colorized version a la SIN CITY, with everything black-and-white except Madge's orange clothes and belongings... :-) and some innovative visual techniques. I particularly liked the use of the glass floor when Bogart discovers a dead body -- a tip of the hat to Alfred Hitchcock's THE LODGER, perhaps? Speaking of Hitchcock, DP and Hitch's 1958 classic VERTIGO might make an interesting double feature since they share themes of loss, loneliness, new identities and fresh starts as well as a San Francisco setting. If you want to see a softer side of Bogart & Bacall, DP is well worth watching. You may also enjoy the DVD's other fun extras, like the original theatrical trailer (for me, the hyperbole of movie trailers of that era is part of their charm) and SLICK HARE, one of the Bugs Bunny cartoons affectionately lampooning Bogart (word has it that Bogart liked to pal around with the animators at Warner Bros.' "Termite Terrace" and he actually did his own voice work for SLICK HARE and 8-BALL BUNNY).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here's a Second Look at You, Kid, November 29, 2003
By 
J. Michael Click (Pineville, Missouri, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dark Passage (Snap Case) (DVD)
Although it's the most unfavorably criticized of the Bogart-Bacall teamings, "Dark Passage" is a fascinating film, and one of those little gems which shines brighter with each viewing. The plot, which relies a little too heavily on coincidence and improbable twists, is nontheless engrossing. Bogart plays a convicted murderer on the lam who is trying to keep a low profile while identifying his wife's real killer; Bacall is the gorgeous girl who staunchly believes in his innocence and takes big risks to help him out. Interestingly, the first part of the film is presented from Bogart's point of view, with the other characters talking directly to the camera as if it were him. This places the brunt of the acting burden on his co-stars, and in particular, Bacall; to her credit, she carries the first half of the film expertly, capturing and maintaining viewer interest with her expressive voice and handsome face. Bogart's character finally materializes visually about halfway through the film as an unrecognizable face in a newspaper photo; next as a shadowed figure in the back of a cab; then as a head-bandaged plastic surgery patient; and finally emerges as the hero, the man with Bogart's face.
Without giving away any more of the labyrinthian plot, suffice it to say that the supporting cast is uniformly excellent with special kudos going to Tom D'Andrea as a perceptive cab driver, Houseley Stevenson as a quirky plastic surgeon, and Agnes Moorehead as a peevish, man-hungry harridan. Sid Hickox's black-and-white cinematography is both attention-grabbing and beautiful, and the art direction and set decorations are superb (especially love the contrast between Bacall's lavish apartment and the gritty scenes of nighttime San Francisco).
The DVD presentation of this noir classic is strictly first class. The video transfer is sharp with excellent contrast, and the sound is clear and crisp. The disc includes the Original Theatrical Trailer, a "making of" documentary, and the Merry Melodies color cartoon "Slick Hare", in which Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd meet up with Bogart, Bacall, and a host of other movie legends. Overall, a wonderful package that offers a wealth of fun and entertainment.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great actors, nice location shots, but the plot was a bit suspect., August 7, 2006
By 
This review is from: Dark Passage (Keepcase) (DVD)
First off, I'm a huge Bogart fan and thoroughtly enjoy classic film noir movies and this flick had the potential of being another great Bogart classic. All the actors in this film including the supporting cast were recognizable and respectable actors and the movie was filmed on location in post-WWII San Francisco, and included some impressive scenic shots around the Golden Gate bridge. But the big problem with this film is that the script was just too utterly preposterous to take seriously.

In a nutshell, a convicted murderer escapes from prison, and a beautiful, wealthy woman voluntarily picks him up just as he's finishing up mugging some other driver who picked him up. After that she gets him on his feet with a nice new suit and a wad of money, just about everyone the escaped convict meets helps him out as though he was royalty. The improbable episodes continue even to the final scenes of the movie. One other problem is that the first half hour is filmed in "first person" making Bogart the camera and as a result the audience only sees and hears what Bogart sees and hears, but the viewers never see him until much later in the movie.

The DVD quality is overall extremely good. Some very short segments show signs of film wear while the vast majority of the film is clean and sharp. There is a very short bonus commentary about 10 minutes long that gives some interesting background insights about this film and there's also a clever Warner Brothers parody cartoon with Bugs Bunny and an animated version of Humphrey Bogart and some other 1940's celebrities.

Fortunately for me, I got this film in a Bogart/Becall four-pack which contained this film plus "To Have and Have Not", "The Big Sleep", and "Key Largo". All four films are individually packaged in the plastic keep cases, which are much better than the cardboard packages that these films were initially released in several years back. My set was only $30, so it was a great deal in my opinion, so I would strongly recommend buying this "Bogie & Bacall - The Signature Collection" 4-pack instead of buying these DVDs individually.

Movie: C

DVD Quality: A-
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating technique, less interesting, but OK movie, November 1, 2003
This review is from: Dark Passage (Snap Case) (DVD)
This is without question not Bogart and Bacall at their best, but it is a very interesting film in that a healthy portion of it is told from first person perspective. There has been so little genuine experimentation in American mainstream cinema (though you do get exceptions like Keaton's SHERLOCK JR. or CITIZEN KANE or SECONDS) that you have to celebrate it where you can. The first half of the film is told from the visual point of view of Vincent Parry, who is is voiced by Humphrey Bogart early on, and then portrayed by him from head to foot after he gets plastic surgery. This isn't terribly pure experimentation, since the first person is primarily a technique of dealing with the fact that there was no way that we would accept another actor with Humphrey Bogart's voice before the surgery. Interestingly, there was a second--and much better--film noir shot from the first person the same year as this one, although filmed at MGM instead of Warner's, LADY IN THE LAKE starring Robert Montgomery as Philip Marlowe (who Bogart had played a year before in THE BIG SLEEP). The first person is kept throughout LADY IN THE LAKE, and is used purely for technical and not practical reasons. We see Montgomery a couple of times in reflections, like in mirrors, but otherwise all the action is from his perspective.
To be perfectly honest, once you get past the interesting perspective in the first half of the film, and the fascinating location shots in San Francisco (immediately after WW II, after a long travel ban resulting from gas rationing, a trend in movies was to film on location around the United States; it was as if they nation wanted to see itself on film), this isn't a top drawer film. Although I don't think Bogart was ever bad in a film (unless you count his rather bizarre Mexican bandit in THE OKLAHOMA KID), this isn't one of his best moments. The first time I saw this, all I could remember for years afterwards was the first person perspective and the location shots in San Francisco. Upon seeing it a second time, I realized why: the movie simply isn't that interesting. It is good, but merely good, and from Bogart in the forties, we usually expect and get more.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Film Noir I've Ever Seen, January 20, 2005
This review is from: Dark Passage [VHS] (VHS Tape)
DARK PASSAGE has been one of my favorite films for over 40 years. I also think it's one of the best of the film noir genre, as is Chinatown.

Some film noir are totally saturated with noir: they are bleak, violent, terribly, terribly depressing: Degraded, depraved people lash out with ugly violence in a vain attempt to "take control of their lives." I see an image of a bird caught in an oil slick with its plumage pasted to its skin by a greasy, viscous substance that threatens to suffocate and kill it.

DARK PASSAGE is not like that. It is a suspense-filled action/mystery tale that has us on the edge of our seats from start to finish. But there is light--lots of light.

Humphrey Bogart is in jail, convicted of killing his wife. He claims he is innocent. He successfully stages a breakout by jumping into a laundry truck and finds himself on the freeway, still in his prison clothes, desperately and determinedly heading toward freedom and justice. He is picked up by a man who turns out to "make" him as an escaped con. Bogart jumps out of the car to escape further jeopardy and falls into a ditch on the side of the road, unconscious.

The next minute, we see the utterly beautiful, clean, pure--everything that is sunlight and golden and perfume--face of Lauren Bacall, in a white blouse, golden hair hanging down, looking at him as a mother looks at her child. The sunlight is just streaming in.

It turns out that Bacall's father was wrongly accused of murder and died in jail. She has been following Bogart's case in the news and now finds herself in a position to be his mother/guardian angel. Throughout the movie, her special, beauty, a beauty that could never be copied--cleanliness and purity and goodness and maternal nurturance; safety and warmth, sanctuary, life, hope, as well as the loveliness of a flower, insistently counterpoint the dark forces of the plot.

And the visuals of this movie and the plot are symbiotic. It is set in San Francisco, and nowhere--not in Vertigo, not in Bullitt--nowhere has the city of San Francisco been used in such an effective way. From Bacall's apartment (she is an architect, and she lives in the most beautiful modern building, decorated in the most awesome way) to scenes where Bogart is running up and down the hilly streets, in and out of buildings in pursuit of a bad guy, to the hooting of the horns in the harbor, to the all-night diner (there is no other all-night diner in all of moviedom that can even begin to compare to the all-night diner in Dark Passage).

So many neat things happen in this movie that I cannot narrate them all, but not one nanosecond could possibly be edited out. Each scene is perfect in acting, direction, background effects, cinematography--all to create a mood which, like all great art, lives by magic. In the end, the whole is much more than the sum of its parts.

Like Chinatown, DARK PASSAGE is synergistic: there is a lamp in Bacall's living room that is a character; buildings, shadows, a glass straw, everything--human or otherwise--is an indispensable part of the whole.

You've got to love it, as I do, and you've got to see it to love it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Bogart/Bacall film of the four, November 15, 2003
By 
This review is from: Dark Passage (Snap Case) (DVD)
I have read many reviews which state that this is not the best work from Bogart & Bacall. I disagree. I think the chemistry between Bogie & Bacall is very clear & electric in this film. Further, the fact that the viewer doesn't see Bogart for the first 30 minutes is cool. Don't know why people complain about this?!? The backdrop of San Francisco is always a film favorite. Each of the supporting cast gives excellent performances. The detail in this film is fun as well-- did you see the statue of the Maltese Falcon on the table behind the couch? This movie is FUN FUN FUN all the way through. A must see and well worth the money.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "She was alright...just hated my guts.", November 23, 2004
By 
Dave (Tennessee United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dark Passage (Snap Case) (DVD)
This is yet another great Bogart & Bacall classic and one of the best examples of film noir. The unique first-person camera view that's used for the first half of "Dark Passage" works very well for the film, unlike in the 1947 flop "Lady in the Lake", where the technique is used for the entire movie. The script is very sharp & witty, as is so typical in the classics of the film noir genre. The music by Franz Waxman is wonderful and fits into the movie perfectly. This great classic is gripping & suspenseful from beginning to end, and the plot is good enough that you learn something new each time you watch the movie! Don't worry, it's not nearly as confusing as "The Big Sleep", which I've seen at least a dozen times and still don't fully understand! And of course, the great chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall is always entertaining! The dvd version has a great picture quality and the special features include the trailer, a vintage cartoon(?!?), and a making-of documentary that's kind of dull. If you enjoy classic film noir then this dvd belongs in your collection!
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Dark Passage (Snap Case)
Dark Passage (Snap Case) by Friz Freleng (DVD - 2003)
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