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Key Largo

Review Written by: William Grady
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: A/A+/D

Directed by: John Huston
Written by: John Huston and Richard Brooks
Based on the play by: Maxwell Anderson
Produced by: Jerry Wald
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Claire Trevor
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it

One of the most perfectly put together films of the 1940's, Huston's edgeofyerseat thriller is the celluoid master of knowing what happens when you mix all the best actors working today in one room for nearly two hours, working their hardest and their best. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are supposed to be the leads but I don't really remember them that way, although of Bacall I do remember her pushing back her hair just a little to accomodate the breeze of an oncoming hurricane she doesn't flinch over. Wow, was she beautiful. Really, this is the Edward G. Robinson Show - like Jaws, we wait a good portion of the picture before we see him and when he does he seems like the most powerful person in the show, simply because his thugs seem to be different aspects of the same Johnny Rocco. Against is the always so innocent, ever so mischevous Lionel Barrymore, hindered only slightly by a wheelchair. And Thomas Gomez gives a perfectly original turn as one of the aspects named Curly. Claire Trevor, in the film's Oscar winning performance, gives the "alcoholic performance" that we've seen before a run for its money and Brando's unpredictable Streetcar character a possible match in unpredictability.

But it is Huston's direction that gives the film its storm surge impact - he thankfully shoots most of the scenes on location and to play a hundred year old Native American he no less than picks a woman who could definetely pass for 100. Full of colorful enough characters to put that ages enough caricatures to shame, Largo forces us closer to Rocco than we'd like to be, like in a too-close-up shaving sequence that seems to have been borrowed helpfully by De Palma for the opening scene in The Untouchables.

The video transfer has a sparkling restoration, but a little scratch here and there. Not quite perfect. The sound has been perfectly restored, though. The extras, meanwhile, are bare. There's a behind the scenes, cast/crew biographies and a theatrical trailer. There is also "Awards" - but it shouldn't be plural because the only award it shows is the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Key Largo is one of the best films of its year and one of the better Humphrey Bogart/Lauren Bacall collaborations ever.

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