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Key Largo

Selection for the Weekend of
February 2 - 4, 2001

This week's selection is probably not a surprise to movie lovers. Key Largo is a classic in every sense of the word. Legendary actors, great success and the fact that people still talk about it 50 years later raises Key Largo to that status. However, there are many of you who have never seen it.

Sure, you have heard the song. "We had it all, just like Bogie and Bacall." However, you should take 2 hours to watch this amazing thriller instead of being misled by '70's pop.

Humphrey Bogart stars as Frank McCloud, a World War II vet who has wandered around the country since coming back from Italy a few years ago. By all accounts, he battled in the worst campaigns and emerged as a hero. Now, he has found his way down south to Key Largo, the southern most point of the United States, off the Florida coast (yeah, down where you parrotheads can find Jimmy Buffet).

In Key Largo, he meets up with the widow and father of his war buddy. Nora (Lauren Bacall) has stayed true to her dead husband, and Mr. Temple (Lionel Barrymore) has never forgotten him. His death has left a great void in their lives, but they live together and run Mr. Temple's hotel on the beach.

It's the off-season, so the hotel is empty and the weather is dangerous. However, a strange group of men have rented out the entire hotel, even though they only need a few rooms. They are on a fishing vacation or are they?

Turns out that these men are a group of gangsters, led by the notorious Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson). Rocco used be a big cheese, but he was run out the country. Now, he has a deal that will return him to glory.

When a hurricane rolls in, will everyone be safe? Will Bogie, Bacall and Barrymore discover the truth about Johnny Rocco?

I have to admit I made a mistake. I should have brought you this film last week, the 102nd anniversary of Bogie's birthday. He was a magical, yet, strange screen legend. Bogie didn't have matinee idol looks like Gable, but he had a great talent and unique charisma that simmered just below the surface. He does a good job in this film, as does Bacall. However, Key Largo belongs to Robinson and Claire Trevor.

Robinson is amazing. Audiences were used to seeing him play the tough guy, but Key Largo gives him an opportunity to show the character's vulnerable side. Watch and contrast his performance as Rocco brags to McCloud about his past, then cowers as the storm rolls in. It's captivating.

Trevor won an Oscar for her performance. This turned out to be the high point of her career, after starring in many B-level films with a few memorable ones thrown in. She plays Gay Dawn, a chorus girl who had a chance at stardom destroyed by her addiction to alcohol. It's a gritty performance and one that was harsher than a "typical" female role at the time. Trevor has one of film history's greatest and most tragic scenes when Dawn has to beg Rocco for a drink.

Do yourself a favor, and rent Key Largo tonight.

Grade: A

Directed by John Huston

Written by Richard Brooks and John Huston

Based on the play by Maxwell Anderson


Humphrey Bogart ……………….… Frank McCloud

Lauren Bacall ……………………... Nora Temple

Edward G. Robinson …………….... Johnny Rocco

Lionel Barrymore …………….…… Mr. Temple

Claire Trevor ……………………... Gay Dawn

Copyright 2001 - WaffleMovies.com