Sunday, October 30, 2016

High Sierra

High Sierra: crime drama, USA, 1941; D: Raoul Walsh, S: Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, Alan Curtis

Roy Earle has just been granted early release from prison, after serving his sentence for robbery. However, he is forced to once again return to crime, when gangster Mac, sick and bedridden, orders him to drive to High Sierra to oversee inexperienced, young thieves Red and Babe in order to rob a hotel, collaborating with a hotel clerk, Louis. to do so. While planning the heist, Roy falls in love with Velma, a girl he met through her father, and finds a doctor who performs a surgery to heal her club foot. However, when Roy proposes Velma, she rejects him. He falls in love with Marie, babe's dance-hall girl. After the robbery, Red and Babe die in a car crash. Mac dies from his sickness. Now all alone, and searched by the police, Roy sends Marie and her dog to drive far away, while he hides in the Sierra mountains. He resists arrest, and is killed.

One of the early films featuring Humphrey Bogart in a leading role, this is a rather standard crime film that meanders through three different and incompatible subplots, and simply lacks highlights to compensate for these omissions, before "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casablanca" would put his place into his rightful stardom and catapult him into timelessness. Even though it stems from the "golden age of Hollywood", this film does not give director Raoul Walsh a chance to rise to the occasion, due to several lacking elements: one of them is the unnecessary subplot involving Roy visiting Velma, a girl with a club foot, a love story that leads to a dead end. The second love story, the one involving Marie, is done much better and works, though the cute scenes involving the dog tend to turn cheesy at times. The sole robbery is executed strangely - Roy and his two associates do not even bother to put a mask to hide their faces, whereas Roy even takes a cup of water from a waiter, leaving his fingerprints there (!) and making the police job so much easier - which seems to be either sloppily written or to show how the three criminals are sloppy themselves. The dialogues are good, yet unmemorable, lacking those inspired lines the viewers are used for that era which set the high standards, yet it is overall a proportionally well made heist film.


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