A hurricane swells outside, but it's nothing compared to the storm within the hotel at Key Largo. There, sadistic mobster Johnny Rocco holes up - and holds at gunpoint hotel owner James Temple, his widowed daughter-in-law Nora, and ex-GI Frank McCloud.
Intense classic showcasing many wonderful artists. Frank McCloud is in the Florida Keys to visit the widow and father in law of an old war buddy, whilst at the hotel they run, he finds it has been taken over by gangster Johnny Rocco and his thugs. The cast, the performances, the screenplay, tight direction, the photography and on it goes to give us a bona fide entry into 1940s classics. It never ceases to amaze me how well Key Largo stands up on repeat viewings, each viewing bringing something new to my ever keen eye. This latest viewing brought me abundant joy in observing the background acting of the supporting players, not one of them looking on waiting for the director to shout CUT, each adding greatly with intense facial mannerisms - check out some of the background stuff Thomas Gomez does for example. Ah intense, what a truly befitting word to use as regards John Huston's direction here, perfectly capturing the stifling heat of Largo and coupling it with the sweltering tension inside this run down hotel. Key Largo is often thought of as the lesser film from the Bogart/Bacall production line, which in fairness is against some pretty special opposition. Maybe we do lose the sexual chemistry of the mighty duo here? but in its place is a mano-mano face off teetering on the brink of explosion, Edward G Robinson's weasel Rocco in danger of becoming a loose cannon to McCloud's staid drifter, the atmosphere is palpable as this room full of hate and mistrust starts bubbling towards boiling point. Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G Robinson, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor (Academy Award Winner Best Supporting Actress), Thomas Gomez and Harry Lewis are all excellent, all benefiting from master director Huston molding them together. Whilst Karl Freund's deep focus photography perfectly encapsulates the mood of the piece. I just love Key Largo so much, from a heart tugging singing for your drink scene, to a retreating in the shadows shot of Bacall, Key Largo is one of the reasons I became a cinema obsessive. 9/10
A brilliant John Huston thriller with an unbeatable cast: Bogart, Bacall, Robinson, and Barrymore! It's neither amazing nor a secret as to why this classic noir will never get stale.