Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the film Dark Passage.
Dark Passage, starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Warner Brothers, 1947
No question that grizzled beaten-up Humphrey Bogart and a young coyly beautiful Lauren Bacall heated up the 1940s screen, heated it up as much as two people could and keep their clothes on, in their first film pairing, William Faulkner’s screenplay adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s To Have Or Have Not (only loosely based on that short novel by the way). They also played together in the Raymond Chandler Phillip Marlowe detective noir classic, The Big Sleep and in Key Largo. In this Dark Passage pairing though, while still in thrall with each other off-screen, the steam is fading, fading fast. But not, perhaps, because of their familiarity to movie-goers as much as the plot line they had to perform under.
Let me explain a little. Vincent Parry (played by Bogart) is in stir up at Quentin for the foul murder of his wife. But, see, like they all say, he didn’t do it so he lams out of Q on his own to see if he can get out from under the life sentence he has received. So naturally when the cops are on his trail up shows come hither Irene Jansen (played by Bacall) to help him out. Seems that, for reasons of her own, she followed Vincent’s trial closely and is convinced that he might be innocent. So she hid him out at her place for a while until things got too hot. But getting out from under this life sentence is going to be harder than you would think. So while riding in a cab to another hide-out he is picked up by a friendly, very friendly cabbie who just happens to know a back alley plastic surgeon who will change Vincent’s face enough so that he can work without notoriety. Simple right.
Well the long and short of it is that while the facelift might have seemed like the answer to his problems everybody and their brother is on to him in the end. And as to finding the real murderer. Well she inconveniently falls out the window of her high rise apartment. While Vincent is there trying to talk sense into her. So, knowing he can’t win, new face and all, he lams it for parts south, way south.
You can see what I mean by the awkwardness of the main plot line. And what makes said plot lines even worst is that Irene has a big crush on Vincent, under either old or new face. Except, and here is the real crime, we do not see either face until fairly late in the film and by then any sense of the magic of To Have Or Have Not or The Big Sleep has dissolved into the be-bop 1940s crime noir night. Too bad.