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Dark Passage

Written by Michael Clawson

80/100

You should always plan to have someone pick you up and drive you home after surgery. Bogie clearly wasn’t paying attention during the pre-op consultation.

This is one of the most romantically optimistic of the noirs I’ve seen, and that was more than okay with me. Bogie and Bacall’s kiss is one for the books, as are the low-angle shots, which get low. When Vincent discovers George has been killed, the camera’s either beneath the floor or George has been elevated somehow because we get a fantastic shot looking upward at both the body and Vincent, exasperated, standing over it.

There’s also some striking deep focus, such as when Vincent has breakfast at a restaurant in a train car, and we see him in the foreground, reading the paper, while our eye is also drawn to the suspicious cop in the background and the space between the them. We get it again when Vincent calls Irene from a phone booth, and, as before, a cop’s in the background. I love that these aren’t particularly showy flourishes, but they’re effective nonetheless, showing the heat is always on Vincent’s heels.

The music plays a welcome role in bringing up the film’s temperature. I swooned every time the record player came on, and even if on paper their speedy falling for each other seems far-fetched, Bogart and Bacall’s chemistry is too seductive to not give into to some degree.

The ending is an unambiguously happy one, going against the bitter note on which we might expect a noir to end, but there are still some pleasantly ambiguous elements. Despite having Vincent at gunpoint and preparing to rob Irene, Baker offers Vincent some tips on how to get across the border once he’s finished with him. In other words, Baker’s not just a straight-up baddie – he’s just indifferent to the law and expects others to be as well.

Dark Passage Trailer

Dark Passage is currently available to rent and purchase on most major VOD platforms.

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