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A highly important movie.
FilmSnobby6 December 2003
*High Sierra* is almost excruciatingly important in the development of cinema, laying to bed the "gangster picture" of the 1930's while simultaneously giving birth to American film noir. Oh, and it made Humphrey Bogart a major star while it was at it. Therefore, I'm not entirely sure that your film collection, if you have one, can survive without it.

Based on a pulpy novel, it chronicles the story of Roy Earle, sprung from a life sentence in prison so that he can knock over a casino along the California-Nevada border. It's easy to miss, but notice the first minute of this picture closely: it's of course the Governor -- bought off by a mobster -- who gets Roy released from his life sentence, indicating that the corruption has finely infested the top of the social order. This is the usual tough-minded, whistle-blowing gangster-picture stuff that Warner Bros. specialized in. But there's also something else at work here, perhaps something new: one gets the sense that what happens to Roy in this movie has been engineered from On High, in advance . . . in other words, he's in the Jaws of Fate. And thus we're in the unforgiving world of Film Noir.

More than the opening scene, it's Bogart who almost single-handedly invents film noir with his groundbreaking work in *High Sierra*. Not cocky like Cagney and Muni, not psychopathic like the early Edward G. Robinson, not as smooth as Raft, Bogart is a ruthless professional with a wide stripe of sentimentality. His Roy never shirks from killing, but he doesn't get off on it. He's more a rebel than a gangster, a poetic soul denied respectability, a man longing for the innocence of his youth. Unfortunately, he thinks he finds in the personage of a transplanted Okie farm-girl (Joan Leslie) a reasonable facsimile of that innocence. Competing for his affections is Ida Lupino, a sour "dime-a-dance girl" who's been up, down, and around the block a time or three. She's the baggage that comes with the two new-generation hoods whom Bogart is assigned to babysit for the casino heist. Not until later in the picture does Bogart recognize Lupino's better suitability to his own temperament and experience. (They share in common, among other things, suicidal impulses, a desire to escape a corrupted world.)

Roy Earle was a new type of character -- the truly romantic criminal. Bogart would play variations on Earle throughout his career, though he rarely exceeded his triumph here. And while I've given the actor much of the credit, some more credit must be extended to the screenwriter, John Huston. *High Sierra* was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Oh, and did I mention that the movie -- aside from its importance in American film history, yadda yadda -- is quite simply a good time? Witty dialogue, great on-location direction by Raoul Walsh, a cute dog, and a climactic car chase that wouldn't be equaled until 1968's *Bullitt*, are just some of this movie's other virtues.
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"High Sierra" was the film that changed the course of Bogart's career and lifted him up to stardom…
Nazi_Fighter_David17 April 2005
"High Sierra" was the film that changed the course of Bogart's career and lifted him up to stardom…

As Earle, Bogart was expanding on the criminal characterization he had already mastered in a dozen earlier films, giving it greater depth by adding contrasting elements of warmth and compassion to compensate the dominant violence…

Bogart helps a clubfooted girl, Velma (Joan Leslie), who repays him only with disregard and indifference…

Bogart's interpretation already showed signs of the special qualities that were to become an important part of his mystique in a few more films…

Here, for the first time, was the human being outside society's laws who had his own private sense of loyalty, integrity, and honor… Bogart's performance turns "High Sierra" into an elegiac film…

As a film, "High Sierra" has other notable qualities, particularly Ida Lupino's strong and moving performance as Marie, the girl who brings out Roy Earle's more human emotions…

The movie was remade as a Western, "Colorado Territory," with Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo, and as a crime film in "I Died a Thousand Times," with Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in the Bogart and Lupino roles… Neither came up to the stylish treatment given "High Sierra" by director Raoul Walsh from an exceptionally good script by John Huston and W. R. Burnett…
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Mandrakegray4 February 2004
Bogey is picked to lead a jewel heist at a resort. When he meets the rag tag team he has to work with, he senses trouble brewing. This is the film that brought attention to Bogart's leading man skills and Huston's peerless writing. Many remember the classic ending with Bogart hiding out in the mountains for one final stand against the law (and fate). Ida Lupino is one of my favorite actresses from the 40's and does fine work here (and looks stunning). Many fine moments with Bogey...including a memorable speech within his cabin hideout. This is one of the best portraits of a desperate outlaw in film history. A blueprint for all the antihero films that would follow over the years...great fun! Seek it out and enjoy!
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Mountain Greenery
telegonus20 July 2001
W.R. Burnett's novel High Sierra is maybe his best book; it's certainly a classic of its type, and very readable and moving even today. The movie version of the book isn't quite as good, but it does something few adaptations do: it captures the spirit of the original.

The story is about a John Dillinger-like criminal, Roy Earle, just released from prison, and his planning of his last 'heist', as he moves from the Midwest to California. It's as much a character study as anything else, and here the book is better, as Burnett seems to get inside the heart and soul of Roy Earle in ways that screenwriter John Huston and director Raoul Walsh can't. This isn't their fault. Burnett gives us Earle's inner life in interior monologues, and movies simply can't do this. Nevertheless, we get a feeling for Earle, a lonely, extremely sentimental and romantic man, essentially a frontier type, or with more brains an artist, who cannot fit into modern life. The reason is simple: he doesn't understand it. He is driven by two things, strong emotions and extreme professionalism. The problem is that his profession is crime. Between these two extremes he is unsocialized, or rather doesn't understand the subtlety of contemporary life. To put it in current parlance, he's not hip, which is to say he has no detachment, no capacity for pulling back and reflecting, unless, that is, he is in love, and even then he gets it wrong by misunderstanding an attractive, crippled girl's reliance on him for love, and taking her country girl disposition for naivite (i.e. like him), which isn't true. This tragic aspect of Roy Earle is beautifully and perceptively described by Burnett, and while it's present in the film, it makes Roy seem obtuse, while the truth is his emotions run deep, and are sincere. He wants to give up crime and marry a small-town girl so that he can go back and get it right again. In the lead role Humphrey Bogart gives a major performance. Superficially he's wrong for Roy Earle: too urban, flip, smart and clever. But he trades in his natural big city persona for a moony, brooding romanticism, and it works. He doesn't seem the least bit sophisticated, and in his quieter moments he comes off like a man who can kill the way other men write checks

He has a true girl-friend in Ida Lupino, but he doesn't realize that she's more his type: life-weary, straightforward, deep and caring. He prefers the one he can't get, and this gets him in trouble, as his commitment to her puts him in a dreamy, dissociative state that is dangerous for a man in his line of work. The story builds on little things, and the bucolic mountain and small-town setting of the film is terra incognita for Roy, and we sense this even if he doesn't. He is, for all his professionalism, way out of his league, and is looking back to his idealized, romanticized early life, and longing for an ideal girl that he can 'fix', rather than doing the right thing and going off with Lupino and stating anew, which is his only chance for happiness.

Roy is a man who lives in two parallel worlds, the real, vicious one he must cope with, and the fantasy one he longs for and sees in the crippled girl he so tenderly loves. There is no in-between for him, as his head is in the clouds much of the time. It is therefore fitting that the movie ends up literally in the clouds, or so it seems, atop a mountain, as Roy shoots it out with reality one last time.
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Robert J. Maxwell14 September 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Everything that was good about the Warner Brothers' machine comes together here. A gangster movie, "High Sierra" doesn't fit the template of earlier ones like "Public Enemy", "Little Caesar" or "The Petrified Forest." Roy Earle is a remarkably complicated character. In love with a shallow girl, he eventually comes to accept the affections of Ida Lupino and, finally, the mongrel Pard, who proves his undoing. Bogart could be pretty good as a comedic actor but you wouldn't know it from his performance here, which is the working out of a tragedy.

The script is by John Huston and it shows. He was a good writer. That little lesson Earl teaches the youngsters about how a Thompson submachine gun goes off (he taps his fingers three times on the table) is memorable. There are other good lines. Bogart and the young girl have a folksy little exchange about how, if you watch the stars long enough, you can almost feel the earth turning beneath you. The Doc, Henry Hull, describes Earle as "rushing towards death." Okay, Dillinger said it first, but it was Huston who put it in the script.

Mediocre score but good photography. Skidding cars leave clouds of dust during the final chase. (The road to Whitney Portals is now paved.) And without intending to, the movie makes one nostalgic for the simpler world of 1941. Not simply unpaved roads, but a different world all around. When was the last time we saw a "small town" that was not a bedroom community, part of urban sprawl?

A good movie. Catch it if you can.
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Bogie Goes From Bad To Good Guy
ccthemovieman-114 November 2005
Aw, the film that launched stardom for Humphrey Bogart and changed him from the perpetual villain to the "good guy."

The movie doesn't feature a lot of action but it keeps your interest. You have two women in here: the hard-boiled Ida Lupino and the soft-and-sweet Joan Leslie. Both are entertaining to watch and both demonstrate a few surprises in the personalities of the characters they are playing. Bogart does the same: goes back and forth between tough guy and softy.

Another key member of this unusual crime story/film noir is "Pard:" a little dog! Human supporting roles are supplied by some familiar and solid actors such as Arthur Kennedy, Alan Curtis, Henry Hull, Henry Travers, Barton MacLane and Cornel Wilde. Most of the people in here, including "Pard," are that endearing but there are so many different angles to this story, it's always interesting to see.
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Ida Lupino easily equals Lauren Bacall.
dbdumonteil25 May 2002
The first thing to bear in mind is that there are actually TWO movies."High sierra" and its western remake "Colorado territory" (1949),both Walsh 's works.The latter is probably superior to the former,since the final is more impressive,but you should not underestimate it though;Humphrey Bogart is much better than Joel McCrea and Ida Lupino is at least as good as Virginia Mayo:actually,except for Lauren Bacall,Ingrid Bergman and Katherine Hepburn,rarely a Bogart's female partner had such an intensity,such a presence :sometimes she even steals the show,particularly in the last scenes.

There are two female parts in Walsh's movie -as in the remake,in which the second one is played by none other than Dorothy Malone- Lupino's bad gal with a strong heart,whose stature keeps on growing during the whole movie:a gangster's moll at the beginning of the story,she becomes a tragic character whose pursuit of happiness is moving at the end.On the other hand the crippled girl,who seems a sweet ,romantic (check the scene of the stars),and touching heroine,becomes an hateful silly goose when she's had the operation.And she 's changed physically as well:she grew into a sophisticated girl,we hardly know her in her last scene.

The car chases are masterfully filmed ,the grandiose landscapes lovingly filmed as if they were seen through Bogart's eye ,this man who had been in jail for a long time and who longed for freedom...this freedom he would earn anyway.Ida Lupino's last words will move you to tears.
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'Mad Dog' Meets a Poetic Finish
bkoganbing25 October 2006
Humphrey Bogart's screen name in High Sierra is Roy 'Mad Dog' Earle. But it's clear from the outset that if Bogart is anything he's not crazy. Bogart may have been a wild guy in his youth, but he's now a middle-aged man who is fully aware that he can't do anything else, but continue in a life crime. He's got the resume and the reputation for that and nothing else. What else can he do, but accept an offer to crew chief a heist at an expensive resort hotel in Nevada.

He can't pick the men he'd like, they're probably all dead or in the joint. He gets some young punks assigned to him by Barton MacLane who is acting as a middleman for boss Donald MacBride out on the west coast. Bogey gets Alan Curtis, Arthur Kennedy, and an informant at the hotel, Cornel Wilde. Curtis and Kennedy are getting their hormones in overdrive over Ida Lupino.

On the way west Bogey meets up with a near do well family headed by Henry Travers and he starts crushing out on teenager Joan Leslie. They represent to him a simpler time before he took up crime as a living.

The first half of the film sets up the characters, the second part is the robbery and it's aftermath. In that second half High Sierra moves at a really good clip. Not too many went out for popcorn when it was shown in theaters back in the day.

High Sierra was one of three films that George Raft turned down and were given to Humphrey Bogart that established him as a leading man. The other two were The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. Raft must have had some agent back in the day.

Of course Bogart is playing a gangster, but this one is a three dimensional character and a fine piece of work. It represented a big advance from some of the villains he played at Warner Brothers during the late Thirties.

High Sierra was directed by Raoul Walsh and another Hollywood icon director, John Huston, co-wrote the screenplay. There's a lot of similarity with this and Huston's later classic, The Asphalt Jungle.

High Sierra was remade twice, as a western with the miscast Joel McCrea in Bogart's role and in the Fifties as I Died a Thousand Times with Jack Palance. I daresay it could be made again quite easily for this generation, it's story is timeless.
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Bogart Stands Out In An Interesting & Well-Crafted Story
Snow Leopard26 January 2005
Even aside from its impact on Humphrey Bogart's career and on the noir genre, "High Sierra" is an entertaining and interesting movie that is worth seeing in its own right. Bogart's portrayal of Roy Earle, along with Ida Lupino, a talented supporting cast, and some well-chosen settings, are all fit together nicely to tell an interesting story.

Though it's hard now to experience Bogart's gangster roles as they would have appeared to their original audiences, it's still easy to see why this and similar roles attracted so much attention at the time. The character is interesting to begin with, and Bogart makes him even more so. The tension between Earle's ruthlessness and his sense of fairness, and between his desires and his practicality, makes for some interesting possibilities.

Bogart makes good use of these opportunities with his distinctive style. The other characters and the plot developments furnish plenty of material that develop Earle's character and give Bogart lots to work with. Even the sequences that might seem unlikely or out of place are used to add depth to the character and the story.

The climactic sequence in the mountains ties everything together nicely, in a very appropriate setting. "High Sierra" is the kind of movie that classic movie fans can enjoy both for the chance to see its influence on later movies and for its own interesting and well-crafted story.
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Bogart, the sympathetic gangster
Jem Odewahn25 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This was Bogart's breakthrough film. Though Lupino got top billing over him (on account of her film-stealing performance the year earlier in another Raoul Walsh work 'They Drive By Night'), it is Bogart's performance that makes the film so memorable.

He plays Roy Earle, a Dillinger-like gangster from the 30's who is released from jail with a dodgy, paid-off pardon. He is to lead one last big jewel heist, but finds himself displaced and at odds with the new, 'jitterbugging' 1940's society. Instead of being chummy with the new lot of crims, he finds he has more common with the dispossessed Oakies, figures from his past he can sympathize with. He is a man caught between two worlds (Perhaps what Dillinger would have been like if he had lived? The Dillinger likeness is hard to ignore, with his name cropping up a couple of times in the film), and this is a film that is sort of 'caught' between two genres. It marks the transition from the gritty 30's Warner Bros. gangster films to the pessimistic, low-budget 40's noir. 'High Sierra' has elements of both, so it is an interesting study.

In my opinion, this is one of Bogart's best performances, and best characters (That said, Bogart played so many great characters in his career that it is very difficult to pick and choose). We have moved on from the portrayal of the psychotic gangster in the 30's by a Muni or a Cagney- Earle is a sympathetic gangster figure. He is given definite human qualities, he has a heart and a soul. He's also willing to 'play the sap' for a dame, and this is noticeable in his unrequited love for a much younger girl, Velma. His care and attentiveness to the girl, who has a club foot, is character building a beautiful component of Bogart's performance. The fact that Roy is rejected by Velma, who becomes wanton and selfish after her foot is repaired, only serves to endear him more to us.

Roy's perfect girl is in the fine form of Marie Garson (Ida Lupino, great performance), a 30's survivor like himself. She's also cynical, weary and downtrodden, and knows about life's hard knocks. She's in love with Bogart throughout, but Bogie only wakes up to this, and her devotion to him, after being dealt a cruel blow by Velma. Lupino, a British actress, is maybe a little unconvincing as the gangster's moll because of her English diction and accent, but she plays the part very well. Joan Leslie overacts in her role Velma, but she was only 17, so it's largely due to inexperience. She handles Velma's transformation with accurate judgement.

Raoul Walsh handles the action very well; this a fast-paced film with some terrific and well-crafted sequences.

Certain racist elements are apparent in the film, with the all-too requisite 'idiot black' making an appearance. Looking at the film now, it's a backwards portrayal, but at the time nothing would have been thought of it. Perhaps we should be glad that an African-American actor was actually getting a chance in the films, not condemning a film that is very much a product of a bygone era.

I never thought that I would be crying at the end of a Warner Bros. film from the gangster cycle, but this film leaves me in tears at it's conclusion. We know that Earle, as an outlaw, must ultimately die, but by the end of the film we are rooting for him so much that it is a painful, saddening blow when the inevitable occurs. The famous last scene in the mountains is justifiably brilliant, with Lupino terrific in her emotions and Bogart in his desperation. They make a great team, Bogart and Lupino. Oh, and 'Pard' too.

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An excellent star vehicle for Bogart
calvinnme31 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a very complex film for its time that combines elements of the old tried and true gangster film, film noir, and melodrama. It makes for good viewing today and is a very good showcase of Bogart's versatility as an actor. The main character is Roy 'Mad Dog' Earle (Bogart), a man released from prison by a wealthy old associate so that he can pull off a big jewelry heist at a resort near the California/Nevada state line. On his cross-country trek to reach the destination of the robbery, Roy meets the Goodhue family. The Goodhues have lost their farm and are on the way to stay with relatives that just happen to live near Roy's destination. When Roy arrives where the rest of the mob is staying, he finds two tough-guy wanna-bes, Babe and Red, that are constantly fighting over a girl - Marie Garson (Ida Lupino). At first the younger hired guns don't respect Roy. They think he is old and washed up. However, he soon shows them who is in charge and they don't challenge him again.

Only a few of the minor characters are painted totally good or bad - such as the elder Goodhues on one extreme and Babe and Red on the other. The major characters have subtle shades of both good and evil in their personalities. This is particularly true of Roy. He longs for the simple life among good people that the Goodhues remind him of, yet during the course of the robbery he must pull off and its aftermath he thinks nothing of killing in order to accomplish his aim. Roy is actually capable of great kindness, helping out the Goodhues when they get in an auto accident and don't have any insurance, and even paying for Velma's operation to remove a birth defect so that she can walk normally. Roy falls in love with Velma, one of the Goodhues' relatives, believing her to be a simple and decent girl. However, he finds she changes into the most hard-boiled of people once her handicap is removed. Her final rebuff to Roy is filled with almost unwatchable cruelty.

The woman who actually cares for Roy is Marie. It takes time for Roy to accept this, since it seems hard for him to believe that people can have both good and bad in them, even though this is very much a trait of Roy's own character. Marie has a background completely opposite that of Velma's, mentioning how she was beaten by her father as a child and then went on to work for a "dime a dance" place before winding up with Red and Babe. She has great heart, but she lacks judgment, which she herself admits. The odd piece of symbolism built into this movie is Pard, the "hard-luck dog", who has seen each of his owners die untimely deaths. In spite of this, Roy makes a pet of the dog, seeming to confirm the fact that he is indeed "running towards death". In the end, it is this friendly little dog that is in fact Roy's undoing.
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Bogie reaches film stardom.
theowinthrop18 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
People mistakenly think that the two films that made Humphrey Bogart a star were "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca". In fact it is this film, made the same year as "The Maltese Falcon" and directed by Raoul Walsh, not John Huston and Michael Curtiz. Based on a novel by W.R.Burnett (author of "Little Caesar" and "The Asphalt Jungle"), it is quite well written. Roy Earle (Bogie) is a clone of Dillinger (like Bogie's first notable role of "Duke Mantee" in "The Petrified Forrest"). He has been in prison, but he gets an early release (by bribes) engineered by an old friend (Donald MacBride, in a good serious performance). MacBride is planning the robbery of a luxury resort, and needs Bogart to do it. But Bogart finds that MacBride's assistant (an ex-cop played by Barton MacLane) is untrustworthy. He also worries about the young men he has to work with - especially a too friendly inside man (Cornell Wilde in one of his first roles). And on top of everything else there is the matter of a young girl with a club foot (Joan Leslie) that could be Bogart's daughter. He falls for her, and wants to help cure her. He can when he has the cash - he has a friendly doctor (Henry Hull) to assist him. But he is so hung up about the girl that he ignores the signs of another, tougher woman (Ida Lupino) who does show an interest in him. Also, he tries to ignore the stories of demons and doom regarding an adorable little dog that a caretaker (Willie Best) tells him.

The film is a first rate one, just a smidge less impressive than "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca" because of the strength of the script. "High Sierra" is well written, but it has no memorable quotes, like, "Of all the gin joints...." or "I enjoy talking to a man...." Willie Best's details about the ill-luck pursuing the dog is the best stretch of real dialogue in the film, and today (due to feelings about racial stereotyping concerning Best) many people tend to overlook how it sets the stage for later levels of the tragedy in the film.

The only problem I have regarding it is Jerome Cowan. He is given one of the lead positions in the credits, but his role (a reporter who appears in the last ten minutes of the film) doesn't merit it. He also has dialogue directed to Ida Lupino suggesting they met or know each other somehow. There appears to have been cut scenes in the film. Was Cowan in those cut scenes?
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The movie that made Bogart a top-billing star.
Boba_Fett11388 April 2008
It's hard to imaging these days but there was a time when Humphrey Bogart was nothing more than an actor who always played secondary character roles, in the shadow of the movie its main character. For instance behind George Raft, who was a much bigger star at the time but also female leads such as Ida Lupino, who also stars in this movie. But Raft then turned down roles for movies such as this movie "High Sierra", "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca". All roles that were then past on to Bogart instead. Roles that truly launched his career to an amazing height, surpassing George Raft by far. Still, he didn't received top-billing for this movie yet. That honor once more went to Ida Lupino, even though Bogart's role is much bigger and is unquestionably the main character of the movie. Ida Lupino was just a better selling name, which says something of the time period and point of Bogart's career this movie got made in. This movie really marked his big breakthrough and after this he would mostly only land roles as a top-billing actor, in movies such as "Casablanca", "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "The Maltese Falcon".

But what makes this movie so great is not just Bogart but also really the movie its story and directing from Raoul Walsh.

The story is written by John Huston, who is better known as an actor and director than a writer, even though he wrote the screenplay for many fine movies. This is also truly one of those movies. It's really no formulaic story and truly highly original and therefor also compelling. The main character is in love with a girl who isn't in love with him, while there is another girl who is in love with him, though his heart is still with this other girl. Sounds melodramatic and perhaps confusing but it's something really refreshing to see and makes the story and character developments progress in a way you wouldn't always expect it to. On top of that there is a main plot-line involving a robbery but really the movie is mostly about its central character. This movie just has basically everything in its story that is needed to make a great movie with. Add to that the performance from Bogart and the fantastic directing from Raoul Walsh and you have a great, tense, entertaining, fast going and original classic movie.

It's not really fully a film-noir, since that genre was still pretty much non-existent at that time and was still a work in progress. This movie does show some noir tendencies, mostly with its lead character, female roles and the main plot line involving a robbery but it's not quite noir enough in its style to fully consider this a pure film-noir. It's the other Humphrey Bogart from later in the same year, "The Maltese Falcon" that is widely considered to be one of the first real film-noir's. Ironicly it was a movie directed by John Huston, the man who wrote the screenplay for this movie.

The movie also features some surprising good action sequences. You have to remember that this is an 1941, when the action genre was still something non-existent but director Raoul Walsh knows to create a couple of good looking action sequences with camera-positions and editing you would expect from an action movie that is being made this present day. Especially the car chases within this movie are memorable.

Interestingly enough director Raoul Walsh himself remade this movie 8 years later into a western movie "Colorado Territory", that might not be as good as this original but it's just as good, intriguing and entertaining on its own and remains an under-appreciated movie.

A real perfect classic and still an unique movie to watch.


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THIS is Cinema!
Henry Fields14 August 2004
Gangster's movies specialist Raoul Walsh reaches his highest level on this (not-so)typical story that tells the story of an outlaw (Humphrey Bogart) that has just come out of prison and gotta make one last hold-up. In principle everything in High Sierra follows the patterns of this glorious genre, but after watching it several times you come to the conclussion that this movie is much darker than the most of gangster's movies. This Gangster, this Roy Earle (Bogart at his best) is not heartless and cruel as james Cagney's Scarface (for example). No. This Roy Earle really wants to quit on being an outlaw. He wants to go back to the farm where he grew up, and start a new life. He meets a decent girl (Joan Leslie) and falls in love with her... But leaving the underworld is not that easy. Once you've killed and robbed, you're forever marked. And that's the cross that Earle's gotta carry. Finally he realizes that this life he's dreaming about, the good girl, the farm, kids running around... it's not gonna be possible. So he put up with being an outlaw and loving the bad girl, the flirtitious one (Ida Lupino, great woman)... , the one that really loves him, because she understands him, because they both came from the same place. Much more than a simple ganster's movie, High Sierra is a drama about what means to be a marked man.

Raoul Walsh does an outstanding job (as expected from such a giant). The script is signed by none other than Mr. John Huston, and "perfect" would be the aproppiate word to define it. The dialogues are powerful, dinamic, maybe a "little" sexist, but it was 1941 and, anyway, Roy Earle treats women much more gently than many of men. Lupino's and Bogart's characters are just amazing; and they both perform one of their best jobs. The car chasing at the end of the film is one of the best sequences ever, and there's no doubt it's been copied hundreds of times in subsequent films.

So if we have Raoul Walsh, Humphrey Bogart, and John Huston nothing can possibly go wrong. High Sierra = Essential

My Rate: 9/10
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"Brother when they hang that number one tag on you they shoot first and argue afterwards, I know."
classicsoncall9 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
By 1941, Humphrey Bogart had nearly a dozen gangster roles to his credit, but in "High Sierra" we get to see a criminal with a heart. That aspect of Roy Earle's (Bogey) nature is played out with the chance meeting of Pa Goodhue (Henry Travers) and his pretty niece Velma (Joan Leslie). Though their age difference is plainly visible, Earle experiences a pang of feeling for Velma, even though she is handicapped with a clubfoot. The story within a story of Roy's white knight effort to cure Velma's malady and find a way out of his life of crime is eventually derailed, but not before the viewer gets a chance to observe a tough guy's soft side.

But then there's his hard side. Fresh out of Mossmoor prison, Roy Earle wastes no time in hooking up with former gangster friend Big Mack (Donald MacBride) who had arranged his early release, and has already lined up Roy's next big payday. Roy will have to get heavy handed with two rookie sidekicks (Arthur Kennedy, Alan Curtis), who between them are juggling a pretty "dime a dance" girl along for the ride. The would be moll is Marie Garson (Ida Lupino), who with one look at Earle instinctively knows her two companions are in over their head. Roy tries to keep his distance from Marie, but when Velma makes it clear that she's marrying another man, Earle's romantic interest in Marie is driven up a notch.

The film makes good use of Warner Brothers stock players. Barton MacLane is on hand as a rogue cop who's taken up with Earle's boss Big Mack. Henry Travers is put to good use in a role that serves as a warm up for that of Clarence the Angel in "It's A Wonderful Life". Cornel Wilde and Jerome Cowan find themselves in limited roles, Wilde as the smarmy Mendoza who sets up the hotel heist, and then rats out Roy to the authorities. And let's not forget Old Pard, the friendly mutt with an attraction to people who wind up dead. Pard had a good acting coach, he was Bogey's real life pet dog Zero.

The newspapers hang a 'Mad Dog' tag on Roy following the botched hotel heist and Earle's shooting death of Jack Kranmer (MacLane). Presumably seeing Marie off to safety, he finds himself on the run and seeking refuge in the shadow of Mt. Whitney. Reacting to a radio broadcast, Marie retraces her steps back to witness Roy's stand against the police, knowing that he'll never allow himself to be taken alive. However Earle's final defeat doesn't have the defiance of Cagney's in "White Heat", no 'top of the world Ma' challenge to incite the authorities. In the end, a big time hood falls in disgrace. By then, you get the feeling that Marie already knows the answer to her own question when she asks a reporter - "Mister, what does it mean when a man crashes out?"

You may be surprised as I was to learn that Ida Lupino was actually top billed over Humphrey Bogart in "High Sierra"; I'd be curious as to the politics involved in that decision. Though her performance is very good, her actual screen time is considerably less than Bogey's. Lupino also excelled in another team up with Bogart, that of the vile and conniving wife who murdered her husband in "They Drive by Night". Catch that one for her intense courtroom scene, it's a blast.
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an exceptional crime movie, more than anything for what the writers, Walsh and Bogart do with the protagonist, and romance
MisterWhiplash18 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Roy "Mad Dog" Earle usually isn't the kind of guy you want to say the wrong thing to on the street or in a store. He's an ex-convict, with a record of robberies and other criminal endeavors, and now that he just got busted out by a crime boss he respects, he wants to pull off this next score and maybe call it quits. He has that stone-cold face of a man with plenty of grit in his system, and he won't settle for an shenanigans- or anyone messing around with a woman the wrong way. Raoul Walsh, the filmmaker, and screenwriters John Huston and WR Burnett know this very well about the character, that he's the tough guy who SHOULD be the villain of the story. But he isn't, and High Sierra marks a crucial step in the crime films of the 30s and 40s by making Earle more than just a brutish guy with money squarely on his professional mind. He's also one who can be vulnerable, and fall in love, or possibly be one to deep down deny how he might "crash" at some point. We see this last part very clearly and compellingly when Earle is sleeping, and in some kind of bad dream, and the woman he's with looks on at him, drifting in and out of talking, saying "no..no, not this, don't crash." Rarely has any crime film allowed us to get the un-certainty in a psychological vein as this, at least in the straight-laced era of the 40s.

Bogart, then, is the best choice for this character, and he embodies Earle with the same velocity he gave to his more one-sided tough guys from the gangster pictures of the 30s, but he also carries the side that is meant to be more affected by the opposite sex. In a noticeable sense Bogart's Earle has two sides, the one he's normally best at showing, to either his boss- Donald McBride's Big Mac, one of the best actors in the film even in just one scene- or to his criminal cohorts, and the other side, where he gets involved with a small-town family, where the daughter (Joan Leslie) has a foot condition, and he decides to get it fixed for her thinking perhaps that he might ask her hand in marriage. This gets complicated, however, when the personal side creeps into the professional, and Marie (Ida Lupino, proving her acting chops before she proved those at directing) falls deep for Roy, like I-can't-live-without-you attachment. Seeing the transitioning of romantic interest is a great measure of characterization in an of itself, because Bogart plays it at first with Lupino straightforward- don't get involved with me, and don't get too deep in the job- but this changes as the reality of Roy's interest in Velma is made clear. How can a criminal really involve himself, and not expect to be rejected, by the more conventional small-town family?

A lot of these scenes help raise High Sierra above the typical paint-by-numbers in a high stakes heist picture, but Walsh also doesn't forget to give the audiences what they want. There's some fine tooling with the heist sequence, for example, to show just how shabby a thing like this can be without the right planning, and in fact how it's not too much of a surprise how it could be a set-up (gun-shots galore). And as the tension mounts, the techniques at Walsh's disposal are to the point, but also in some stylistic flourishes. Like when Roy suddenly has no choice but to hold up a teller at a store for money, that he may or may not be owed, and the call goes out to the authorities in super-impositions, mechanical things going over people's eyes and faces very quickly. And few chase scenes go for the length but excitement that happens as Roy's being chased by the cops on the mountain roads. The simplicity of style, of Walsh's professional focus on the job at hand, is matched up wonderfully with the screenplay's handling of making these more realistic than is expected: you feel for Roy, not in a despising way as a villain, but who is left to the haggle of circumstance and fate, and there's even a moment of sadness up on that mountainside as authorities and Roy go head to head.

I can't say which I would prefer, this or Colorado Territory, as I've yet to see the latter. But if you're a fan of Bogart in the slightest, it's surely worth the rental, and it may even appeal to today's fans of crime films (well, not all of them, of course) looking for a lesson in the embracing and subversion of the genre of the period. Plus, it has one of the great endings in the crime genre.
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Roy Earle, a man out of prison, and out of his time.
Spikeopath31 December 2008
Roy Earle is released early from prison thanks to a rather shifty pardon. A job is there to be done, maybe Roy's last one before finally finding love and straightening out?, but Roy is finding out that this is a different world to the one he left behind, the one before he entered the Big House for his stretch. Crooks he's not familiar with and women turning his head, hell even a canine has him at odds with his machismo sensibility, but all of it will come crashing together amongst the magnificent High Sierra!.

It's a really funny thing now, you buy two DVDs and they both tell you that the respective film from 1941 is the breakout role for Humphrey Bogart. I am of course referring to both this fabulous film and the equally brilliant, Maltese Falcon, what a double that is eh!. Truth is, is that both films merely showcase what a talent the great man was, and crucially, that he could imbue his characters with terrific results. Here as Roy Earle i personally feel Bogey gives one of his best 40s performances, made to look far more aged than he was {well done Perc Westmore}, he manages to make Earle a tough and gritty man, yet at the same time he pulls the audience on side with a hardened professionalism that has us admiring the obvious qualities that reside within him.

Directed by the great Raoul Walsh, scripted by one John Huston, and starring Humphrey Bogart, it's obvious that this take on W.R. Burnett's novel is in safe hands, playing out as one of the gangster genre's last hurrahs, it's clear to me that some future great Western directors were clearly taking notes, for what drives High Sierra to being great is it's man out of his time pulse, sensitivity seams thru the picture without ever cloying the tension and feel of the picture, the best Adult Westerns would theme this arc with considerably great results. Backing Bogart up is the top billed Ida Lupinio {strong and perfect foil}, while the likes of Alan Curtis, Arthur Kennedy, Henry Hull, Cornel Wilde, Henry Travers and Joan Leslie {badly overacting without hurting the production} help up to put High Sierra firmly in the drawer that holds classic crime pictures from a golden age. Not just a close look at deep and elegiac characters, High Sierra does not lack in the action department either, in fact Walsh does an incredible job of knitting together heart and gusto with intelligent results. Come the finale at Mount Whitney {High Sierra a constant looming presence in the film}, the thrills have more than catered for the inclined seekers of that particular bent, but ultimately as the credits role, Walsh's camera leaves us in no doubt as to what has driven Roy, and High Sierra, to it's point of meaning, a special and great movie indeed, 9/10
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Impressive screenplay
Jugu Abraham25 July 2002
It is a great Bogart vehicle. But what makes Bogart look good is the fine screenplay. Not having read Burnett's book is a disadvantage for me to judge the contribution of Burnett and John Huston to the screenplay. Being familiar with Huston's screenplays, I tend to think it was Huston who probably made all the difference to the screenplay.

Huston loved to play on the good side of men that became sometimes comical and sometimes their folly. In "High Sierra" the goodness in the "mad dog" is played up: the bad guy looks good. Huston did that with aplomb in "The Man who would be King". At the same time he reverses the role of the poor girl with the clubfoot into an ungrateful woman. Only animals remain the same...

The lines are made for Bogart's style. The direction of Walsh is not bad but not striking either. I will remember the film for the strong screenplay alone, without which the film would have floundered.
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A "Mad Dog" With An Achilles Heel
seymourblack-17 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
In "High Sierra" Humphrey Bogart plays an ageing gangster who's seriously conflicted. On one hand he's a career criminal who's utterly ruthless and readily kills people who get in his way but on the other he's also a rather nostalgic, sentimental and compassionate person who hankers after a calmer and more decent lifestyle. The fact that he's rather old for the crime business and that he's surrounded by younger people, contributes to his feelings of alienation which are also reinforced by the difficulties he experiences in adjusting to everyday life, after having spent many years in prison.

Bogart's gangster also recognises that his life of crime has put him on a course from which he is unable to escape and that he has no alternative but to follow where fate takes him. This man's Achilles heel is his tendency to be soft hearted and this is, unquestionably, a fatal flaw for anyone who pursues a life of crime.

Crime boss Big Mac (Donald MacBride) pays for Roy "Mad Dog" Earle (Humphrey Bogart) to be released from prison on parole because he wants the experienced bank robber to lead a gang who are planning to carry out a hotel robbery at a Californian resort. When Roy arrives at the gang's cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, he meets Red (Arthur Kennedy), Babe (Alan Curtis) and Babe's girlfriend, Marie Garson (Ida Lupino). Roy soon recognises that the two young men are inexperienced and unpredictable and also that there'll be problems if Marie stays involved.

Roy decides that Marie should be sent back to L.A. but becomes more content for her to stay after she tells him that Louis Mendoza (Cornel Wilde) who works at the hotel and is the gang's "inside man" has a tendency to be indiscreet and loose tongued in the wrong places.

On his way to L.A. to visit Big Mac, Roy calls on the Goodhue family, Ma (Elisabeth Risdon), Pa (Henry Travers) and their granddaughter Velma (Joan Leslie). Velma is an attractive young lady with a deformed foot and Roy pays for her to have surgery to correct the deformity. Later, Roy proposes to Velma but she rejects him for a man closer to her own age. When he meets Big Mac, Roy discovers that his boss is very ill and as a consequence, the money that he'll earn from the robbery will be very important to him.

When Roy's driving away from the cabin on the night of the robbery, he's followed by a mongrel dog called "Pard" who has a reputation for bringing trouble to his owners. Although he doesn't want to take the dog with him, Roy allows himself to be persuaded to do so. The robbery goes badly and Roy shoots a security guard before escaping. Red and Babe are killed when their car crashes and Louis tells everything he knows when he's questioned by the police.

From that point on, all Roy's plans unravel spectacularly, as he and Marie become fugitives and fail to capitalise on the jewels they stole from the hotel. Roy decides soon after that it would be too dangerous for him and Marie to remain together and so they separate. The police then continue their relentless pursuit until the story eventually reaches its extremely dramatic climax.

Ida Lupino is excellent as the tough, streetwise Marie whose affection for Roy remains strong even after he tells her that he wants to marry Velma. Her devotion to him is unswerving and she continues to remain undaunted throughout all the dangers and setbacks that they experience together.

Bogart's exceptional performance in this movie conveys very convincingly the complex nature of Roy "Mad Dog" Earle. He talks tough through clenched teeth in some scenes but also shows genuine kindness in others without ever losing any credibility. It's this ability which is so impressive and no doubt, was a major reason why this role was the one which elevated Bogart to the star status that he justifiably enjoyed for the rest of his career.
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High Sierra or how Raoul Walsh makes a martyr of great American actor Humphrey Bogart !
FilmCriticLalitRao7 April 2010
On the surface "High Sierra" appears to be an ordinary film but it is really amazing how over the years it has established its reputation as a classic film.All artistic credit for this film must be shared by two giants of American cinema Raoul Walsh and John Huston.Famous Hollywood actor Humphrey Bogart is also to be remembered for this film which enabled him to cast his dynamic spell on viewers.The best thing about Bogart's role is that he appears more like a troubled soul although he convincingly plays a tough criminal.There are no so many actors in Hollywood like him who can play roles depicting troubled souls with a criminal bent of mind.Some serious viewers might complain that it is rather bizarre that acting talent of Ida Lupino has not been properly used.She was made to content herself by mouthing some very ordinary lines.It is funny that High Sierra has been touted as a heist film but it is not exactly what one should call a 100% heist film.It has its fair share of dramatic elements too which are interlinked including the final car chase sequence which was all for the best.
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Enter the Anti hero, 1941, not 1971
ptb-818 August 2007
Excellent Warner Bros crime drama with sensational outdoor photography and luscious talented Ida Lupino.... and Bogart on the cusp of super-stardom. In the 1970s I had the opportunity to meet Ida Lupino and I missed her... something I regret to this day. Then I only knew her from ISLAND OF DR MOREAU 1977 and was not yet acquainted with ROAD HOUSE or ON DANGEROUS GROUND or HIGH SIERRA. and other truly superb roles of the 40s/50s. Other comments here will tell you the story, but I won't, I just want to tell you to go find this now on DVD and stare at it several times from start to finish and see if you can guess how many other later films this one influenced. I got to 10 in a cinema geek contest so here's four to start.: DUEL IN THE SUN, THE BRIDE CAME COD, DILLINGER, OUT OF THE PAST and those mentioned above. (not Moreau).... Ida Lupino was one of the great B actresses who delivered A level performance in A+ movies even if the script was a B. ... and I missed meeting her... and I miss her in films now. As with the late great Ann Sheridan these two women deserve a major retrospective on DVD... and be treated as major female talents who spanned 3 decades. See Sheridan in COME NEXT SPRING (1956) and the work backwards through her films to the 30s... likewise with Lupino and you will agree. Interesting to me is the fact that Mad Dog Earle, as played by Bogart and written by John Huston is the first real anti hero I can establish in the 30s/40s: the killer criminal who is the hero of the film... and we all thought it was Dirty Harry or some 60s Nicholson role.
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Bogart a great actor
Tashtago12 August 2006
Others have talked about the importance of this film and its' influence on Bogart's career. I'd just add that he is a very underrated actor. He telegraphs his emotions but in such a convincing way. Bogart had incredible appeal because there was something real about him. The scene when he first meets the Ida Lupino character is a perfect example. We know right away of his discomfort with having a woman involved, but we don't know why. Bogart had an incredibly expressive face and voice and was in fact one of the great actors of his time, which is why we can still enjoy High Sierra today. Ida Lupino who later directed films is equally good.
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The Big Combo4 June 2005
A sublime film. Probably one of the most melancholic pictures ever made in the classic period. It is one of the earliest and strongest portraits of the tragic hero, so recurrent in Walsh's filmography. Bogart's character, a mournful, resigned old-timer who witnesses the gradual downfall of the world as he knows it, dresses in black all through the film, like the mute and only assistant to his own funeral. As other Walsh anti-heroes –notably White Heat's Cody- he must reach the heights before him dies. One wonders what would have been of the Bogart, Cagney, Flynn or Raft persona without their significant roles in the Raoul Walsh films. It's remake, Colorado Territory, is even better.
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Petri Pelkonen7 May 2008
Roy Earle (Bogart) gets a pardon only to go back to the world of crimes.But tough guy finds two sides of himself when he meets the crippled Velma (Joan Leslie) and Pa (Henry Travers).He falls for the gal and wants to help her walk properly.But there's Marie (Ida Lupino) who falls for him.Raoul Walsh is the director, John Huston and W.R.Burnett the writers of High Sierra (1941).This is a movie that made Humphrey Bogart a star.He does a highly memorable role work as Roy Earle.Ida Lupino shows her talent as Marie.Joan Leslie is another wonderful female in this picture.Henry Travers is fantastic as always.Willie Best and Pard the dog bring some comedy there.There are many scenes to remember in this classic.The final scene leaves you speechless.Movies used to be something else in the olden days.
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'Ya always sorta hope 'ya can get out.
lastliberal7 March 2008
And get out he did. Sprung by a crooked Governor, Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart) is out to do one more job.

What really caught my eye, however, was the fact that he went to the park first, and was watching stars, and was amazed at the mountains. A clue to those not in the know, that jail is the worst place to be.

Bogey also got out in that this picture, probably the first film noir, sprung him into the spotlight and allowed him to go one and make the great Casablanca, as well as The African Queen, The Caine Muntiny, and many more.

Imagine getting second billing to Ida Lupino, who was really go in this film, but not in Bogey's class. Even Pard (Zero the Dog) could not match Bogey, as cute as he was.

This is a great caper film, with backstabbing and tons of action, and a great car chase up the mountains. It should be seen by everyone who loves film.
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