A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Frank McCloud travels to a run-down hotel on Key Largo to honor the memory of a friend who died bravely in his unit during WW II. His friend's widow, Nora Temple, and wheelchair bound father, James Temple manage the hotel and receive him warmly, but the three of them soon find themselves virtual prisoners when the hotel is taken over by a mob of gangsters led by Johnny Rocco who hole up there to await the passing of a hurricane. Mr. Temple strongly reviles Rocco but due to his infirmities can only confront him verbally. Having become disillusioned by the violence of war, Frank is reluctant to act, but Rocco's demeaning treatment of his alcoholic moll, Gaye Dawn, and his complicity in the deaths of some innocent Seminole Indians and a deputy sheriff start to motivate McCloud to overcome his Hamlet-like inaction. Written by
The film was produced in 1948, the same year in which there actually were two major hurricanes, late in the season, less than a month apart, that went directly through the Florida Keys. (See Hurricanes #7 and #8 of 1948) See more »
The hurricane passes by unrealistically quickly. See more »
No, Mr. Temple, it wasn't you. It wasn't the law or anybody. It was only Johnny Rocco. Nobody in the whole world is safe as long as he's alive.
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Key Largo is an absolutely brilliant film. Cast and screenplay are both superb. Bogart and Bacall have an intense personal chemistry that sparks on screen, and the supporting cast of Barrymore and E. G. Robinson give their best performances ever. Robinson, in particular, as the slimy gangster johnny rocco is great - his portrayal of the 'banality of evil' is the best I've ever seen.
The screenplay is magnificent. Not just the dialog, but also the balance of characters is perfect. For each good character there is a bad one of equal weight, forming a perfectly complementary totality, a yin/yang balance that teeters between triumph and disaster according to the finest shades of personal choice. It's an examination of freedom, of corruption, of courage and betrayal - a perfect encapsulation of the world, focused upon a hotel on a tiny island in the middle of a hurricane.
This movie deserves more recognition than it gets. The action is understated but intense, densely-packed with meaning and significance, at both the individual and cultural level. Watch this movie with new eyes!
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