Sunday, August 17, 2008

High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941) B+

If The Maltese Falcon had been released a year later, in 1942, then I somehow think that we would all be talking about High Sierra as Bogie's breakout performance. Everything we loved about him in subsequent roles is present in this performance: the tough guy in The Big Sleep, the romantic in Casablanca, the slight maniac in The Caine Mutiny and the slightly funny everyman in The African Queen. The rest of the film is quite excellent as well. Bogie plays a recently pardoned gangster who is doing one more job before retiring. There are a couple of bumps along the way, but the robbery seems to go off without a hitch. That is, until someone in on the job snitches on Bogie and he is forced to run while the police heavily pursue him. Raoul Walsh, an old pro from the Golden Age, does a fine job keeping the suspense up. My only complaint is an awkward romance between Bogie and a clubfooted Joan Leslie which is a bit rushed and somewhat forced.

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