Dark Passage (1947) Movie Reviews

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Dark Passage, light journey.

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Vincent Parry has been imprisoned in San Quentin for murdering his wife, he escapes at sets about clearing his name. After being picked up, and then hidden by Irene Jansen (who has followed his case closely), Parry gets a tip from a cab driver which leads him to an underground plastic surgeon. After being given a new face, Parry must keep away from the police and find out just who did in fact kill his wife?

OK, so the plot isn't much to write home about, but the star appeal of the leads and a quite simply brilliant supporting performance lifts this noirish thriller way above average. Humphrey Bogart is Vincent Parry and Lauren Bacall is Irene Jansen, so it's with a tinge of sadness that Dark Passage is considered the weakest film of the four collaborations from the special duo. And though in plot and screenplay that may well be true, I maintain that the sexual chemistry here is as electric as it is in The Big Sleep. Has to be said, though, that both Bacall & Bogart are playing second fiddle to a waspish turn from Agnes Moorehead as Madge Rapf, she ups the ante and grabs the attention span when the film drifts close to a stand still.

The clever camera technique of viewing the events from Vincent's eyes works well for the first third of the film (we never see Vincent's face), but heavy with Bogarts' narration, this loses impact once Vincent gets his new face. The mysterious element to the plot doesn't quite get the jolt that it should because sadly we know it's Bogart from the off, So when the reveal comes about it just falls a little flat. Still, the film works as a more than serviceable thriller, with great acting and a very tidy turn of events in the ending make Dark Passage recommended viewing for noirish thriller fans. 7/10