Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive - DARK PASSAGE on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Warner Archive - DARK PASSAGE on Blu-ray

DARK PASSAGE (1947; Delmer Daves)
David Goodis is one of those crime fiction writers that doesn’t get mentioned by name nearly enough. Though folks certainly know DARK PASSAGE, many probably don’t know that it was adapted from his novel. They may also not realize that Truffaut’s SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER is based on a Goodis novel. In 1957, he had two books adapted into movies - THE BURGLAR and NIGHTFALL. Both are good, but I am a huge proponent of NIGHTFALL and more people should really seek that one out. That said, DARK PASSAGE is understandably well-regarded because it’s a solid story. Is it the best movie that Bogie and Bacall starred in together? Certainly not. That honor goes to TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT or THE BIG SLEEP, but those are two classics of cinema that are tough to top. The difference might have to do with the fact that Howard Hawks directed those other two films and Delmer Daves directed DARK PASSAGE. Daves is no slouch of course. He’s responsible for some westerns like 3:10 to YUMA, JUBAL and THE HANGING TREE. He’s a perfectly competent workman. Dave went for a stylish approach with DARK PASSAGE in that the first third of the film is mostly shot from the point-of-view of an escaped convict (Bogart) after he’s busted out of San Quentin. This was not the first film in 1947 to attempt such a stunt. LADY IN THE LAKE came out earlier and it went so far as to tell its story entirely in POV shots. DARK PASSAGE uses the POV storytelling as a point of plot in that we are not supposed to see the convict's face until later in the movie. Lauren Bacall plays a young woman who picks up the convict and takes him back to her apartment to hide him from the police. I'm not always a fan of gimmicky stuff like POV shots, but in the case of DARK PASSAGE, I don't mind at all. This has a lot to do with the fact that Bacall is looking into camera a lot in the film. It's almost like a faux date with her or something. She's as lovely as ever and one can easily get the sense of what Bogart saw in her when one spends thirty minutes or so staring into her bewitching eyes. If you like Bogart and Bacall (and how could you not), this movie is worth your time for sure. The new Warner Archive Blu-ray sports a nice and crisp new transfer and offers up some lovely looking black and white cinematography.
Special Features:
-"Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers" (10 mins) - a featurette covering Delmer Daves, DARK PASSAGE and how it was received as well as some background on Bogart at the time.
-SLICK HARE (1947) - This Looney Tunes short was directed by the great Friz Freleng and features a cartoon version of Bogart himself. Bogart is at a nice restaurant and Elmer Fudd is his waiter. Bogart orders rabbit and Elmer has to find one quickly or risk upsetting Bogie. Thankfully, Bugs is nearby...

DARK PASSAGE can be purchased on Blu-ray here:

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