Writers: Richard Brooks, John Huston, Maxwell Anderson (Play)
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Thomas Gomez, Harry Lewis, Marc Lawrence
John Huston is undeniably one of the greatest directors of all time, with Key Largo being one of his very best films. It's an absolute gem of 1940s cinema, boasting a great cast and an excellent dark-noir style. I think its legendary status lies in the performances. You have the classic pairing of Bogart and Bacall, who were a famous real-life couple. Mix in Edward G. Robinson, who's arguably the most famous gangster character actor of all time. Spice it up with two extremely memorable performances by Claire Trevor and Lionel Barrymore, and you have yourself an unforgettable film. Trust me, Key Largo has to go on your "must watch" list.
|Johnny Rocco is one of G. Robinson's most memorable roles.|
The story takes place at The Key Largo Hotel, located by the beach at (you guessed it) Key Largo, Florida. Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) gets more than he bargained for when he visits the owners of the hotel, James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) and Laura Temple (Lauren Bacall). The hotel is occupied by a group of criminals led by the infamous Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson), who refuses to let them leave until his shipment has arrived. With a hurricane roaring right at their door, the atmosphere is always tense as the drama unfurls in this wickedly entertaining crime-drama.
The music, cinematography, costumes and set-production in Key Largo are fantastic. I expected nothing less from John Huston, who is one of the finest at crafting films to suit the story. I really enjoyed the story too. The thought of being held captive in a hotel by a band of criminals is quite frightening, but it was the unpredictability of the story that kept me intrigued. These ingredients worked well together, but it was the character's that brought it all to life. Particularly the supporting performances, which were astoundingly good!
In the end, I think you'll find that it was Edward G. Robinson who truly owned the film. He really shines as a criminal, and commands screen presence, even over the likes of Bogart and Bacall. Robinson is probably the key reason this film is so beloved by cultists and noir-fans alike. There were so many shades to his character. There was a hole in himself that he could never fill. He wanted nothing more than to climb back up the criminal ladder and become a top-boss again. There were tinges of fear in himself, like his dirty-tricks to ensure he doesn't get shot. His claustrophobia during the hurricane told us more about him than anything else. I saw more than just fear of the storm sweeping over him. It seemed like his world was going to crash down. Yup, I think this may just be Edward G. Robinson's finest performance.
Key Largo deserves to be called one of the best crime dramas ever made. It's a truly entertaining, unforgettable movie. I found the pacing of it all to be a little too slow, which made the film feel longer than it had to. It's not one of my personal favourite movies, but I can't deny that it's a gem of its era. Like I said, this needs to be on everyones watch-list.