Dark Passage (1947)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/3/14
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

Wrongly convicted for murder, Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) escapes from prison in a vain attempt to clear his name. Lucky for him, the lovely Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall) picks him up and shelters him while he comes up with a plan. She's a kind and good natured woman, but she has daddy issues and an unhealthy interest in Parry that borders on obsession. In another ridiculous stroke of luck, a nosy cabbie hooks Parry up with a disgraced plastic surgeon who gives him a new face at a discount rate. It's a good disguise, but people start seeing through it pretty quickly, and Parry is running out of time. For a supposedly innocent man, a lot of people seem to die around him, and while he's able to figure out who framed him, he can't prove anything and is forced to remain a fugitive.

"Dark Passage" is a tense thriller where the main character is always on the verge of being caught. The film carries a strong sense of desperation and dread, up until the sappy and completely out of place romantic ending. Bogart does an adequate job as Parry, although you don't even see his face for the first half of the film. Until the point where he undergoes surgery, the film is shot in a first person perspective from Parry's point of view. It's an interesting gimmick and features some impressive editing tricks, but it overstays its welcome and the tease becomes frustrating after about twenty minutes. On the plus side, it allows for some breathtaking shots of Ms. Bacall staring straight into the camera as she speaks to Parry with her sultry and seductive voice. She is remarkably lovely throughout the film, with the exception of her oddly shaped eyebrows. Unfortunately, they are a constant distraction. Apart from the contrived ending, it's a surprisingly bleak film, full of pointlessness and moral ambiguity.