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I finally saw this for the first time last night, and I was very very impressed. The subjective camera at the start of the film kept everything fresh and kept me off-balance. The cast and the dialogue was terrific. At times, this came close to feeling like a horror movie.

 

The surprise to me is that I never saw any of "Dark Passage" before. Not a film clip or anything. Usually it was dismissed as the "bad" Bogie-Bacall movie or else a joke. "That's the movie where a guy gets plastic surgery and comes out looking like Humphrey Bogart."

 

I thought it was a terrific film noir, off-beat but working better than "Lady from Shanghai" for example. I know Delmer Daves has/had a cult following in France, but I only knew him for his interesting Westerns (Last Wagon, 3:10 to Yuma.) Now I want to look up some of his non-Westerns.

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I finally saw this for the first time last night, and I was very very impressed. The subjective camera at the start of the film kept everything fresh and kept me off-balance. The cast and the dialogue was terrific. At times, this came close to feeling like a horror movie.

 

The surprise to me is that I never saw any of "Dark Passage" before. Not a film clip or anything. Usually it was dismissed as the "bad" Bogie-Bacall movie or else a joke. "That's the movie where a guy gets plastic surgery and comes out looking like Humphrey Bogart."

 

I thought it was a terrific film noir, off-beat but working better than "Lady from Shanghai" for example. I know Delmer Daves has/had a cult following in France, but I only knew him for his interesting Westerns (Last Wagon, 3:10 to Yuma.) Now I want to look up some of his non-Westerns.~MikeBSG

 

Mike,

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the stylish and moving Dark Passage (1947). The dark look of the film is captivating, but I love some small touches in the film as well, such as the near monologue that the lonely cabdriver (Tom D'Andrea) engages in while driving a desperate Bogie around San Francisco. There's also the brief sequence in the bus station when Bogart overhears the conversation of the two lonely souls in the bus station. The scene that invariably stays with me, however, is the last, when a melancholy Bogart waits by the sea while nursing a drink, somewhere in South America, only to hear the strains of a romantic tune, looks up & sees--who else?--Lauren Bacall.

 

Most of these scenes might be considered unnecessary tangents by many, and might've been cut, but they really help to make this movie memorable for me. Interestingly, shortly before making Dark Passage, Bogart's contract stipulated that Daves was one director/writer he could always choose for his subsequent Warner Brothers' movies, the two were good friends, with their relationship going back to the making of The Petrified Forest, when Daves worked on the adaptation of Robert E. Sherwood's play. (Despite their mutual respect for one another, Humphrey Bogart was reportedly so stressed during the filming he lost handfuls of hair and much sleep).

 

Some other Delmer Daves movies in which his interesting writing and directing touch is noteworthy, distinctive & might be worth your time are listed below. The ones with the asterisks are the films that he worked on only as a credited writer.

 

For a fan of film noir, The Pride of the Marines (with brilliant & touching work by John Garfield & Eleanor Parker and another interesting technical experiment in POV representing Garfield's psychological state), and The Red House (with fine performances from Edward G. Robinson & Judith Anderson) would probably be good jumping off points for exploring Delmer Daves work.

A Summer Place (1959)

Kings Go Forth (1958)

Bird of Paradise (1951)

A Kiss in the Dark (1949)

The Red House (1947)

Pride of the Marines (1945)

The Very Thought of You (1944)

You Were Never Lovelier (1942)*

Love Affair (1939)*

The Petrified Forest (1936)*

Page Miss Glory (1935)*

 

I didn't know that there was a Delmer Daves cult in France, but there should be at least a small one here in the states! Before you go in pursuit of Daves' interesting non-Westerns, I hope that you've had a chance to see Broken Arrow (1950) and The Hanging Tree (1959). Both films catch that "Davesian" quality of disparate people finding themselves in close quarters and, out of an instinct for survival and, sometimes ultimately, respect, compassion and love, discovering that the world is a far more complex place than the characters knew by the final reel.

 

While easy to dismiss as soap opera twaddle, you might wish to see if A Summer Place, with its noteworthy supporting cast of adults, including an outstanding Arthur Kennedy, Constance Ford, Dorothy McGuire, Beulah Bondi, and even Richard Egan, (though I'd fast forward through the scenes with the youngsters.)

 

I've long thought that Delmer Daves deserves a nod on TCM as a featured director.

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Love "Dark Passage" especially Agnes Moorhead. And yes, the cabbie AND the doctor were especially good. Tom D'Andrea was in tv's "The Life of Riley" starring William Bendix. I always was a bit skeptical of Bacall taking in a convicted murderer just becuz she thought he was innocent. But hey, that's Hollywood and I accept this plot device.

 

BTW: How could you fast-forward pass Troy Donahue??

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Hi Mike!

 

I have been on record as saying that for years *To Have and Have Not* was my favorite Bogie/Bacall pairing, but lately *Dark Passage* has been muzzling its way in for first place. I find there is a "mood" prevelant throughout this picture that is quite hypnotic, lulling me into another time and place. I love movies that do that. It's very romantic and yet has a perverse, dark humor in it (like Dave's western, *The Hanging Tree* does). I really want to get that Bogie/Bacall box set but it seems hard to find or very expensive.

 

I'm also looking more closely at the director since several of his other titles are among my favorites, including *Kings Go Forth* with Sinatra.

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>>> I hope that you've had a chance to see Broken Arrow (1950) and The Hanging Tree (1959). Both films catch that "Davesian" quality of disparate people finding themselves in close quarters and, out of an instinct for survival and, sometimes ultimately, respect, compassion and love, discovering that the world is a far more complex place than the characters knew by the final reel. <<<

 

Interesting points, Moira. I was trying to put my finger on what I like about Daves' films. I also like that, although they can be stylish (Dark Passage), his movies are mostly filmed in a meditative way that lets character and story come forth. I'm always for that.

 

*Kings Go Forth* deserves more respect, too, for its depiction of very complex characters and sensitive handling of racial prejudice. Sinatra gives one of his most sympathetic and tender performances, and Tony Curtis his most duplicitous. That there are still SO many more Tony Curtis' than Sinatras out here today makes this film still resonant (I'm speaking of their characters---not the actors themselves).

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"Dark Passage" was based on a novel by David Goodis. I think I read somewhere that he sued "The Fugitive" TV show for having ripped off this book (The Dark Road), in which an innocent man is imprisoned for the murder of his wife but escapes. I think that he lost.

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Yes ma'am...you're right. I was just questioning (slightly) the movie conceit of picking up hoboes (Nick Nolte-Bette Midler-Richard Dreyfuss) or girls/boys on the bench ("Come Live With Me") or convicted (albeit innocent) felons ("Dark Passage"). It just makes me say "only in the movies!"

 

But with that being said...I still love the film and Agnes Moorhead.

 

Message was edited by: CineMaven

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I looked up "Dark Passage" in a couple of noir reference books I have. Both gave the film lukewarm responses. One dismissed the film as not really noir in that he doesn't kill anyone, they just fall to their deaths. The other fixated on the subjective camera aspect and said that the movie continued it too long.

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I was surprised by their take on "Dark Passage." Ironically, one of the books is the first edition of Silver and Ward's "Film Noir."

 

I remember buying the book, which was pretty expensive for me at the time, and then starting to read it on the bus ride home. The bookstore where I bought the book is no more, and I don't live in that city any more, but I still have the book.

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