Gabby lives and works at her dads small diner out in the desert. She can't stand it and wants to go and live with her mother in France. Along comes Alan, a broke man with no will to live, who is traveling to see the pacific, and maybe to drown in it. Meanwhile Duke Mantee a notorious killer and his gang is heading towards the diner where Mantee plan on meeting up with his girl.Written by
Hailed by the New York Critics last season as "an exciting success"! -acclaimed by a noted film critic as "the most wonderful picture that I ever sat through"! (Print Ad-Binghamton Press, ((Binghamton NY)) 20 February 1936) See more »
The original Broadway version also featured John Alexander and Slim Thompson, who recreated their roles in this film. The stage production opened January 7, 1935 at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York and ran for 197 performances. See more »
When Mrs. Chisholm is telling Gabby about missed opportunities, she gets a reaction from Mr. Chisholm. At the end of the interaction, Mr. Chisholm rests his face on his open hand. When the angle changes in the next shot, his face is resting on his balled-up fist and knuckles. See more »
Say Duke... Did you mean to hit him in the hand, or was that just a bad shot?
It was a bad shot, Pop. I had to get off fast. Now I let that mug make a mug out of me, but don't let anybody try it again. Just keep in mind that I and the boys is candidates for hangin'. And the first time any one of ya makes a wrong move, I'm gonna kill the whole lot of ya!
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The best context to look at "The Petrified Forest" is through the context of the first great disaster of the 20th Century: World War I (or, as it was known then, "The Great War"). I had just finished reading a long, thorough history of World War I when I saw this one and even though this is some twenty years after that awful catastrophe (all wars usually are, but this one especially), one can still feel it's aftershocks rolling through that desolate landscape. Maybe that's why Leslie Howard's character, Alan Squier, wound up wandering through there, as it probably reminded him of more than a few days and nights in No Man's Land (a term invented by the Great War to describe the space between enemy lines). A lot of non-American WWI veterans came out of it really messed up. The whole foundation of the 19th century's ideals had been laid to waste by this new and brutal world that WWI brought about. So it's not very suprising to me that Squier feels "obsolete", as he puts it; the role he had hoped to take with his world doesn't even exist. The best he can do is give Gabrielle Maple the chance he can never have.
Duke Mantee (played by Bogie in a superb, breakthrough performance) is also a relic, but from a different period, that of the Roaring Twenties. Not for nothing were such outlaws as John Dillenger and Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow glamourized during this period; one could possibly point to our current fascination with serial killers as this phenomenon's modern equivalent. But by 1936, the period of the romantic outlaw was drawing to a close if it wasn't already over (a point made five years later in "High Sierra"). Mantee is totally without hope of escape or even a reprieve. He sees his fate as clear as day and doesn't kid himself about his chances of eluding it forever. That, more than anything, would explain his rapproachment with Squier and perhaps his reluctance to shoot him until Squier gives him no choice. Mantee may know his own fate well enough, but he has no wish to inflict that fate on someone in the same position.
Granted, there's a lot more layers and angles going on in "The Petrified Forest" than what I've just mentioned here, but this was the one that grabbed the most. Because human nature doesn't change that much, perhaps that's why this brilliant stage piece still holds my respect.
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