Husband-and-wife stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall teamed up again for the
1947 film noir Dark Passage (DP,
not to be confused with our favorite noir magazine, The Dark Pages).
I could have sworn that Philadelphia-born author
David Goodis had originally titled this novel The Dark Road
Bros. snapped up the movie rights for Bogie and Baby, giving it the more
suspenseful title Dark Passage
; does anyone here know for sure? On a recent TCM Friday Night Spotlight
on noir authors, film historian
Eddie Muller explained that many of these suspense writers had to suffer the
slings and arrows of seeing their books “chopped up and channeled as B-movies
before they ever got A-list recognition, but Goodis did it backwards with
his first crime novel.
It was serialized in The
Saturday Evening Post,
and then Warner Bros. snapped it up for Bogart and
Bacall for the silver screen." Nice work if you can get it! Goodis was touted as the new Dashiell Hammett, writing pulps and radio
serials in the 1940s.
|Author David Goodis hard at work|
|Travel tip: If you're going to San Francisco, |
be sure to hide inside a huge prison drum!
Goodis was apparently one of those maverick types
who had his own ideas about what he wanted to write and how to go about
it—imagine that, writers with minds of their own! Back in the day, filmmakers
didn’t always know what to make of quirky types like Goodis, but he was
nevertheless prolific with novels such as The Blonde on the Street Corner
and Street of No Return
(both from 1954); The Moon in the Gutter
and The Burglar
(both from 1953), and Cassidy’s Girl
(1951). Goodis eventually returned to Philly to take care of his ailing
brother, spending the 1950s writing paperback originals with moody, broody plots
focusing on troubled protagonists who couldn’t win for losing. Somehow, I get
the feeling Goodis wasn’t exactly the kind of guy who faced each day with a
smile on his face and a jaunty tune on his lips—but whether or not that was
true, Goodis sure could write. In fact, nowadays, a first edition of the 1946
hardcover of Dark Passage
is now valued at more than $800!
|4th floor, framed fugitives from justice, everybody off!|
absorbing documentary featurette suggests that Bogart and Bacall’s participation
in the star-studded Committee for the First Amendment, which was intended to
defend colleagues called before HUAC, might have been among the reasons that
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, wisecracking, insolent-yet-playful Bogart and Bacall of
To Have and Have Not
The Big Sleep,
this film version of Goodis’
novel presents a more melancholy, vulnerable Bogart and Bacall—which, in my
opinion, 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, as if
they’d decided to let their collective guard down 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, escaping the cops like he escapes from prison in
the film’s opening scenes. Vincent has few allies, but the ones he has are at
least willing to help. There’s Irene Jansen (Bacall), whose father had died in
prison after being framed for murder. Irene has been following Vincent’s case
during his trial, and she ends up in a position to help hide him while he does
his best to prove his innocence.
|You realize this means an angry letter to the Times!|
Then there’s Sam, the cab driver (Tom D’Andrea
from Pride of the Marines; Night and Day; Humoresque).
Sam is cynical,
yet he’s basically a kind, lonely soul, as are many characters in DP
Sam suggests that Vincent should go to back-alley plastic surgeon Dr. Walter
Coley (Houseley Stevenson from Sorrowful Jones; Crime Doctor; Native Land).
Dr. Coley may have been kicked out of his practice for being ahead of his
time, but like others in DP,
he too got a bum rap and is also a
decent guy. The proof is in the pudding: Vincent’s operation went so well that
he now looks like Humphrey Bogart! Isn’t 1940s medicine wonderful? Wasn’t
Vincent lucky to get comrades like Irene and Sam and Dr. Coley? If only they
didn’t have to keep their secrets so close to the vest, they could put together
a support group; how about Wrongly Accused Protagonists Anonymous?
|Meet Dr. Coley, brilliant hush-hush plastic surgeon to the wrongfully accused! Highly recommended by Sam the Lonesome Cab Driver! Free cigarettes for new customers!|
|Trippiest face-lift ever! Lauren Bacall can blow our minds anytime!|
to be The Year of the Subjective Camera, between DP’s
hour shot from Bogart’s viewpoint, and Robert Montgomery doing the same in
Lady in the Lake,
using the technique
throughout the film. Unlike Lady…, DP’s
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. It may take a while before they actually get Bogart out of his
bandages as Vincent Parry, but on the positive side, we also get to see more of the lovely
Lauren Bacall as Irene, as well as all those great spellbinding Warner Bros. character actors in lieu of Bogie. The tenderness between
Irene and Vincent is palpable. There isn’t an uninteresting face or a bad
performance in the bunch, with standout performances from Bogart and Bacall and
a superb array of character actors. In addition to D’Andrea and Stevenson,
there’s Rory Mallinson (Cry Wolf; Nora Prentiss; Possessed)
musician friend; and the ever-dependable Bruce Bennett (The Treasure of the
Sierra Madre; Mildred Pierce; Mystery Street)
|A kiss isn't just any old kiss with |
Bogart and Bacall as Irene and Vincent!
The man I love to hate most in DP
is cheap hood Clifton Young, a
former Our Gang
star (oh, the irony!). As the villainous Baker, the
adult Young grew up to have an oily grin and a cleft chin that looks like it got
lost on the way to Cary Grant’s face by mistake; you might also see Young on TCM,
where he was a hoot in the hilarious “So You Want To…”
|Vincent gets the drop on would-be blackmailer Clifton Young!|
To think he was such a cute little tyke in Our Gang!
|Director Delmer Daves has a cameo as |
Irene's late wrongly-accused dad!
And the woman
I love to hate in DP? None other than the wonderful Agnes
Moorehead, with a resume ranging from The Mercury Theatre with Orson Welles, to
stage and screen, including four Oscar nominations (Hush…Hush, Sweet
Charlotte; Johnny Belinda; Mrs. Parkington; The Magnificent Ambersons); and
scene-stealer Endora on TV’s Bewitched! Moorehead steals the film
as Madge Rapf, the kind of woman who won’t join any club that would have her as
a member. Madge is some piece of work: she’s a stylish dame who goes out of her
way to spread 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
commanding presence of the quicksilver Moorehead and her unconventional yet
undeniably striking good looks ensure that you can’t take your eyes off her
whenever she’s onscreen.
|The Hates of Rapf—Madge Rapf, Dangerous Dame!|
looking for a tight mystery plot, this ain’t the place! 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. I love the use of “Too
Marvelous for Words” as Vincent and Irene’s song). The bus station scene is a
touching example of this. Incidentally, that lady at the bus depot, Aunt Mary,
is Mary Field from Ball of Fire
Totten); The Dark Corner
eavesdropping movie ticket-taker); Wonder Man
Ministry of Fear
(as avant-garde artist Martha Penteel)! Mary’s so
versatile, bless her!
|Vincent's pal George Fellsinger, young man with a horn!|
But the reactions of people who meet protagonist Vincent with 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
singer/songwriter John Linnell from They Might Be Giants
(one of Team B’s favorite bands) ever had to field such absurd questions? But
|Madge shows her true colors!|
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. That said, I recently saw a colorized still of Moorehead as Madge,
and I must admit it looked pretty darn impressive! With the emphasis on Madge’s
love of all things orange, I can imagine a partly-colorized version a la Sin
with everything black-and-white except Madge’s orange clothes and
belongings! The Lodger,
perhaps? Speaking of
and Hitch’s 1958 classic Vertigo
an interesting double feature since they share themes of loss, loneliness, new
identities and fresh starts as well as a San Francisco setting. (That could
also work for another San Francisco film I like, Impact,
that’s a blog post for another time!) If you want to see a softer side of Bogart
and Bacall, DP is well worth watching. You may also enjoy the DVD’s fun and
interesting 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 that affectionately lampoon Bogart; it’s been
claimed 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!
Nevertheless, Director of Photography Sid Hickox had plenty of
innovative visual techniques in glorious black-and-white. I particularly liked
the use of the glass floor when Vincent discovers a dead body (I won’t say who);
a tip of the hat to Alfred Hitchcock’s
|Baby, you're smokin'!|
|Oh, no! George, Vincent's only friend, has clearly played his last song!|
|After all the agita Irene and Vincent have been through, they deserve a happy ending! |
Good luck, you crazy kids!
Wikipedia, the TV series The Fugitive
became a hit in 1963—and Goodis
took the producers to court, considering the show had many elements in common
with Dark Passage. In 1963, ABC television began airing the
, the story of Richard Kimble, a doctor wrongfully convicted
of murdering his wife. Kimble subsequently escapes and begins a long search for
the "one-armed man", the person he believes to be the real killer. For that
matter, the whole case was originally inspired by real-life
Dr. Sam Sheppard, who’d been accused of murdering
his pregnant wife. It just goes to show that there’s nothing new under the sun,
in fiction or real life!
I love "Dark Passage." It is actually my favorite of the Bogey/Bacall pairings. (I only like 2 of their 4 collaborations...this one and "Key Largo.") I love seeing a softer, caring side of their relationship.ReplyDelete
Funny thing, "Dark Passage" was my introduction to Bruce Bennett. For a couple years after seeing this, I referred to him as "Irene Jansen's boyfriend" every time I saw him in something else. Finally, I decided that I ought to learn his real name!
Enjoyable post...great photos...great captions.
Patti, thanks for your positive comments on my DARK PASSAGE post and pictures! I like Bogart and Bacall in both serious mode and playful mode, but it's especially nice to see them so tender and loving. You had me smiling at "Irene Jansen's boyfriend"! :-)Delete
Dorian, this is my favorite Bogart and Bacall film. I'm not especially fond of their other pairings, but do enjoy watching DARK PASSAGE whenever I get a chance. I especially ADORE the ending.ReplyDelete
LOVED reading your post.
And by the way did you ever know a 'hero' to have such continuously rotten luck as poor Vincent Parry? I mean, really.
If he wasn't Bogart he'd be border-line schmucky. Ha!
Agnes Moorehead is such an evil dame in this one. I don't know that she is particularly well-cast, but she gloms on to the part with lots of sinister gusto.
P.S. I'll be commenting on your Flash Fiction story tomorrow. That will make it all official in my mind. I know, I know, I am such a Type A personality. HAHA!!
Yvette, beaucoup thanks for your enthusiastic praise of my DARK PASSAGE post! Though Bogart and Bacall's playful, insolent films are my favorites among their movies, I assure you I also love their more tender performances like in DP. Loved your smart and sassy comments, especially: "Did you ever know a 'hero' to have such continuously rotten luck as poor Vincent Parry? I mean, really. If he wasn't Bogart he'd be border-line schmucky. Ha!" So true, my friend, but you gotta admit proves again that Bogart had range as an actor! :-DDelete
When it comes to hot movie dames, Agnes Moorehead may not be to all tastes beauty-wise, but I've always liked her regal air and her versatility as an actress, from CITIZEN KANE to Samantha's literally witchy mom on the TV sitcom BEWITCHED. Agnes didn't get 4 Oscar nominations and Emmys for nothing! Well, the world need both apples and oranges, right? :-D
Great blog! I'm glad you mentioned Clifton Young aka "Bonedust" of the Jackie Cooper era Little Rascals. He had great Dan Duryea style turn in this film. Sadly, like so many of the Rascals, he died young -- committed suicide after a divorce and little/no work.ReplyDelete
Agnes Moorehead rocked as Madge. You are so right, she had unconventional looks but was stunning when given the right makeup and camera angles. In addition, her piercing eyes just draw you in. Maybe Aggie should get her own blogathon too!
YEAH! It appeared -- a little delayed but at least I don't have to remember what I wrote and repost!Delete
Many thanks for your positive comments, Gilby! I really appreciate your patience with the Nook snafu, too; your comments are always worth waiting for! It's a shame Clifton Young actually died relatively young; I keep hearing conflicting reports that he'd either committed suicide or had accidentally fallen asleep while smoking. Either way, it's a shame, because he was a terrific character actor. Hmm...an Agnes Moorehead Blogathon...Gilby, you clever girl, you're giving me ideas... ;-)Delete
My husband caught "Dark Passage" for the first time last week. He came up from the rec room shaking his head and all he could say was "Agnes Moorehead - holy *beep*!"ReplyDelete
I think you're right about the movie's rough edges making it less successful, not any HUAC connection. In Edward G. Robinson's autobiography he wrote about going on the road and wondering how audiences would react to him since he was grey listed in Hollywood. No one ever mentioned it. Politics is politics. No matter the era, most people shake their heads and turn to the funny papers.
Caftan Woman, I love your anecdote about your husband's reaction to Agnes Moorehead! She gave her roles all she got in all her performances, but when the versatile Agnes played dangerous, unpredictable dames like Madge in DP, I for one was glad it was only a movie, because our family has known people like that in real life. Agnes sure nailed what that kind of gal is like! *BRRR*!Delete
I hadn't realized Edward G. Robinson had been gray-listed. Boy, those darn HUAC bullies wreaked havoc on so many lives, the so-and-so's! I agree with you, C.W.: "Politics is politics. No matter the era, most people shake their heads and turn to the funny papers."
I first saw Dark Passage on TV as a kid, and I remember being fascinated by the extended use of the subjective camera; it may have been my first exposure to that kind of thing. At the time I thought something along the lines of: "Humphrey Bogart's supposed to be the star of this movie; are we ever going to see him?"ReplyDelete
Nowadays, knowing a little more, I think of DP (I confess, a little resentfully) as the picture that tied up Agnes Moorehead's schedule and kept her from doing Macbeth with Orson Welles over at Republic. What a Lady M. she would have been!
I also have a cherished fantasy about this movie. You know the scene where the bandages come off and we finally see Bogart's face as he wonderingly beholds his new puss in the mirror? My fantasy is that somewhere in the Warner Bros. vaults there's an outtake where the playful Bogie couldn't resist staring at the mirror for a few seconds, then muttering, "The sonofabitch made me look like Humphrey Bogart!"
Jim, I think I first experienced the subjective camera gimmick when I watched LADY IN THE LAKE on the late show when I was growing up in the Bronx, and that enticed me to seek out DARK PASSAGE, inspiring me to find DARK PASSAGE. I bet lots of moviegoers were impatient to see Bogie's mug already when DP came out in theaters! :-)Delete
I never knew Agnes Moorehead was supposed to play Lady Macbeth for Orson Welles for Republic! I agree, Jim; Agnes would have been GREAT as Lady Macbeth opposite her fellow Mercury Theatre co-star/director! It might even have gotten her an Oscar at last. Darn movie schedules! >:-(
On the more upbeat side, Jim, I laughed out loud over your quip "The sonofabitch made me look like Humphrey Bogart!" You know, I've heard some folks claim there really is an outtake somewhere with Bogie and Baby removing the bandages, with Bacall quipping to Bogart, "Here's looking at you, kid," and Bogart joking back, "That's my line!" :-D Swell to have you join the chat here at TotED, Jim, as always!
Great post, Dorian - very absorbing. And oh that Agnes - she was a cut above the rest - a really fascinating actress that brought something special (and sometimes sinister) to everything she did. She was Bewitching! (sorry).ReplyDelete
Marsha, no need to be "sorry" -- after all, how could we ever find the multitalented, amazing Agnes Moorehead to be anything less than "Bewitching"? :-D She's long been one of my favorite character actresses. Our pal and fellow blogger Jim Lane of JIM LANE'S CINEDROME had mentioned here that Agnes would have been playing Lady Macbeth opposite Orson Welles if it hadn't been for scheduling conflicts on the big screen; oh, what could have been! Oh well, at least we've got plenty of Agnes' work to watch and enjoy! :-)Delete
I love this films moodiness and it's many unforgettable views of a beautiful foggy San Francisco. I agree.. of all the Bogart/Bacall pairings, this was the most romantic. My dad called me the other day to remind me to watch it.. He said "this is a must see classic film". I agree.. it is a great film.ReplyDelete
I'm a huge Agnes Moorehead fan and love every performance she does, good, bad or the ugly.
Dawn, I applaud you and your dad for being fans of DARK PASSAGE, like us here at Team Bartilucci HQ! Your dad clearly raised you right! :-D And like you, I love the San Francisco locations and the great character actors, with Agnes Moorehead stealing the show! You have great taste, my friend! All of us here at Team B HQ hope you and yours have a great Independence Day Weekend!Delete
Great review. A film I can watch over and over. And thanks for info that Delmer Daves was in the photo of Irene's dad.ReplyDelete
One of my favorite characters is Tom D'Andrea - what a smooth performance ,making Sam the cab driver so likeable.
It is surprising that Warners kept Bogie's face off the screen for so long.But it added so much to the dramatic effect.
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
Vienna, thanks for your kind praise of my DARK PASSAGE post! I agree with you that it was a challenge to keep Bogart offscreen for what must have felt like a long time for most moviegoers, but it sure was worth it the the impact once we get to see him at last. I especially liked Tom D'Andrea, too; he had just the right mix of wariness and compassion. I'm glad you stopped by to comment about DP; feel free to drop by anytime!Delete
I wasn't as sold on this movie as you were, though I did like the hiding-Bogey's-face angle. It seems like a clever way to subvert his image and shift the focus elsewhere. You compared this to LADY IN THE LAKE. Which movie would you say does this first-person trick better?ReplyDelete
Rich, while I enjoyed DARK PASSAGE more than you did overall, I especially liked your comments about subverting the "hiding-Bogey's-face" gambit. While I like both DP and LADY IN THE LAKE in their different ways, if I had to pick just one of the two movies, I'd choose DARK PASSAGE as the best of the two. I thought the plot and the acting worked more smoothly in DP, while LADY IN THE LAKE's subjective camera was often clunky and awkward. That said, when LADY... worked, it really nailed it, like with that harrowing scene when Robert Montgomery is injured in the car accident. Thanks for your comments, Rich, as always; drop by and chew the proverbial fat at TotED anytime!Delete
Dorian, I think this is my favorite post of yours so far! Entertaining, made me laugh out loud, and I learned so much that I didn't know before -- like about Goodis and The Fugitive, and that Clifton Young was in the Our Gang shorts! What a great way to start what promises to be a most awesome day! (And thanks so much for the Dark Pages link!!)ReplyDelete
Dorian, I think this is my favorite post of yours so far! Entertaining, made me laugh out loud, and I learned so much that I didn't know before -- like about Goodis and The Fugitive, and that Clifton Young was in the Our Gang shorts! What a great way to start what promises to be a most awesome day! (And thanks so much for the Dark Pages link!!) (I tried to post this earlier, so forgive me if it shows up twice. . . )ReplyDelete
Karen, I'm truly grateful and flattered by your rave review of my DARK PASSAGE post. Beaucoup thanks indeed, my friend! And thanks for thinking it was so nice you praised it twice! :-)Delete
Seriously, Karen, I especially appreciate your comments here, because over the years I've developed a soft spot for DP and the tenderness between Bogart and Bacall, not to mention those unforgettable character actors. I'd say we're both having a great day! All of us here at Team Bartilucci HQ hope you and yours will have a happy, fun and safe Independence Day celebration! :-D
Thanks for a great post. I loved all the detailed background you've included, right down to Bugs Bunny.ReplyDelete
I have been meaning read David Goodis for some years now but never seem to get around to. While I don’t think this is the best of the Bogart/Bacall films its got a lot going for it; the San Francisco backdrop and a terrific performance by Agnes Moorehead as you point out she just about steals the film. I wonder if filmgoers were disappointed that Bogie was wrapped up in bandages for half the film. As always, enjoyed your entertaining take on this very watchable film.ReplyDelete
John, like you, I've been meaning to read more of David Goodis' books, too, but life keeps interrupting me! I need Cliffs Notes to catch up with all my reading! :-) True, the movie has its flaws, but somehow that just intrigues me all the more, especially Agnes Moorehead's unforgettable performance. I've read that some audiences were frustrated by not getting to see Bogart sans bandages immediately, while others thought it heightened the suspense. Either way, I find DP unforgettable. Thanks so much for your praise and comments, John, and all of us at Team B. hope you and Dorothy are enjoying the holiday weekend!Delete
Fabulous review, Dorian. I've seen this film only once which, I now realize, is not nearly enough. I always enjoy the Bogie-Bacall chemistry, but I like that this film shows a more tender relationship, as you've pointed out.ReplyDelete
Agnes Moorehead really does steal the film, doesn't she? SUCH a great actress!
Ruth, my friend, thanks so much for your rave review of DARK PASSAGE! You're so right, one viewing of DP is never enough, especially with the tenderness between Bogart and Bacall! I wish Agnes Moorehead had gotten an Oscar nomination, but watching her steal the show will do just fine! :-)Delete
Speaking of Bogie and Baby, TCM is showing KEY LARGO tonight on THE ESSENTIALS at 8 p.m. It's the only Bogart & Bacall film I haven't had a chance to see yet, so I'm looking forward it! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend! :-)
Hello! I hope you had time to hide the good cutlery before my arrival :) like many of your commenters, I too just love Dark Passage, though it may not be the most known or most popular Bogart-Bacall teamup, I always recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it. And you run through many reasons why: Bogart's character, the scenery, subjective pov, the chemistry, Bruce Bennett, Bacall looking so sophisticated and young, Agnes Moorehead who is just so fantastic here (I vote for an Agnes blogathon too!!), I just dig it all. There's just something "off" about it, but lovably and attractively so. Must've been a weird experience for the moviegoers though, to see (or not see) Bogart in this way. Goodis churned out a good many great stories. I think all of us writers have an idealistic image of the pulp writer; I sure do, always wanted to have nothing to do but be hunched over a typewriter (I even have the ideal vintage typewriter!) and pound out some cool crime tales like this one. cool review as usual, I just had to say how much I enjoyed,& thanks for it!ReplyDelete
also thanks on beharlf of the OTHER DP, Dark Pages (creator/editor Karen has already dropped in up above) for the kind plugs, and for being part of that noir party so often. cheers!
Kristina, beaucoup thanks for your rave review and comments for my DARK PASSAGE post! I'm delighted that we're on the same page when it come to DP. How do you and I love it? Need we count the ways? :-) And like you, I always have the vision of that ideal vintage typewriter in my head, too, though now I have to stand up and stretch every so often so my backbone doesn't get sore at me! :-) I'm glad that both you and Karen enjoyed this post; no wonder it's become my favorite Bogart & Bacall film, and that you gals love it, too!Delete
P.S.: By the way, earlier this week I posted the TotED version of THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, with swell pix and the address so others can get their own Dark Pages Sterling Hayden/Robert Ryan edition! If you have a moment, we'd be thrilled and grateful to see what you think! :-D