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
Humphrey Bogart got a freelance contract for three weeks at $ 750 a week; only after the movie was a success did he get a 26 week-contract. See more »
Numerous saguaro cacti are visible in background shots. The saguaro grows only in the Sonoran Desert; the Petrified Forest is well north of the Sonoran Desert. See more »
Petrified forest is a lot of dead trees in the desert that have turned to stone. Here's a good specimen.
So that was once a tree? Hmmm. Petrified forest, eh? Suitable haven for me. Well, perhaps that's what I'm destined to become, an interesting fossil for future study.
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Here is one of the reasons I love old movies so much - intriguing writing, great acting, and interesting characters hold our attention throughout the movie without needing to resort to desperate all-out action, explosions, and computer effects.
Leslie Howard is a gentle intellectual roaming the Arizona desert who happens upon a quaint little cafe/gas station in the middle of nowhere, amidst sand and cactus. He immediately stirs the emotions of big-eyed waitress, Gabby (played by an adorably youthful Bette Davis), who holds a dream of going to France and finding herself in the world. But despite their quick and mutual adoration for one another there is impending tension hovering around their introduction, as news continually escalates about a killer named Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) who's on the run and not far from the diner. Eventually, the infamous gangster shows up with some thugs and takes over the cafe, holding an array of wonderfully colorful characters hostage.
This was originally a play with Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart, and leading man Howard reportedly refused to do the picture without Bogie being in it. As a result, this is noteworthy also as Bogart's big breakout movie, and it would only be a few more years before he would hit super-stardom all on his own. Humphrey seems to put a lot into his gangster character, investing Duke with the necessary evil demeanor, yet also with a hint of heart and soul. Leslie Howard and Bette Davis make a wonderful pair, and both give fine performances; which makes the potentially talky twenty minute scene where they first get acquainted actually completely captivating. Charley Grapewin is delightful and funny as Davis' chattering grandpa. Dick Foran, playing a strapping and comical football star who pumps gas while always trying to woo Gabby, was very good in this film and it's probably the best work I've seen him do in movies, before he wound up as a "B" player for Universal. His character here is in complete contrast from the heroes and "singing cowboys" I've been used to seeing him play.
At first watch I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending (which I will not reveal) but after thinking about it I came to the decision that it really fit the story well after all, and is actually very poetic. ***1/2 out of ****
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