“My wife, my friends, my family, everybody.”
“Come on now, it can't be as bad as all that.”
“Well, I tell you what you do. You go up there and spend seven years with my wife, and then if you're still in your right mind, come back down here and tell me about it.”
No actor ever wants to hide their face. They act so people can see their face and gain attention. As an audience we go to theaters to specific faces. When that specific face we went to the theaters to see is not on screen we may not pay attention or we may feel the film lacks in those scenes. In the 1947 film Dark Passage one of Hollywood’s leading actors, Humphrey Bogart, was cast as the lead in a story where his face is not shown for over an hour. The lead actor’s face not being shown for that long was never even heard of or done before and is not done so much even to this day.
Vincent Parry (Bogart) has escaped from jail. From first person perspective and a voice over we hear his inner monologue and what he says to other people he encounters. He hitches a ride with someone who asks him too many questions. A radio announcement comes on warning people about Vincent’s escape and his description. The guy pulls over and before he can do anything Vincent punches him out, takes him out of the car and takes his clothes. Another pulls over to the side of the road. A young woman comes out of the car and she wants to help Vincent get away from the cops and back into San Francisco.
They get into San Francisco past the police. The young woman who has helped Vincent is Irene Jansen. He finds she is helping him because her father was in a similar situation where he was convicted of killing his wife but he was not the real killer. Irene believes that Vincent is innocent that someone set him up for the murder of his wife and wants to help prove his innocence. Irene goes out leaving Vincent alone. A woman comes the door and incessantly knocks. Vincent recognizes the voice and makes her suspicious when he tells her to go away.
When Irene comes home he tells her he cannot stay with her especially after the visitor who happened to be Madge Rapf (Agnes Moorhead) the woman who accused Vincent of killing his wife. Irene knows who Madge is and purposely came to know her. Vincent has to leave and stay with a friend of his. On the way to his friend’s place in a cab the driver figures out who he is and tells Vincent that he knows a surgeon who specializes in plastic surgery. When the surgery is over Vincent goes back to his friend’s house only to find he has been murdered. He goes back to Irene’s apartment and writes down what has happened and that he needs to stay with her until the bandages can come off.
A few days later Irene takes the bandages off of Vincent’s face. Now that his face has changed and no one would recognize him Irene feels they can finally be together but Vincent still feels he has to go away so he will not be caught. Irene figures out he is going to South America and she wants to go with him. He tells her she cannot follow him no matter how much she wants to. Sitting in a diner, Vincent asks questions about past events at a race track. A man comes over to Vincent and asks questions. The man is a detective when Vincent realizes this he runs away. He manages to get away and find a room to stay in. Somehow the guy who had picked him up on the road after he escaped tracks Vincent down to the room. The guy tries to blackmail him and get money out of Irene. Vincent gets the best of the guy on the road once again. They get into a fight and in self defense Vincent pushes the guy off a cliff into the ocean. Before the guy falls to his death reveals in so many ways who really murdered Vincent’s wife and friend.
Vincent goes to see Madge Rapf. Since his face has changed she does not recognize him right away. He tells her who he is and that he knows she is the murderer. She lets him know that she killed his wife because she loved him and the only way they could be together was if the wife was out of the way. When he did not love her back she blamed the murder on him. In one last push to torture Vincent, Madge jumps out the window to her death to make it look like he killed her.
Vincent makes it out of North America to a place he wrote for Irene to meet him. Irene meets him at a hotel night club and they dance.
Dark Passage I have had for years on DVD and watched when I first bought it. At the time I first watched the film I do not think I was running this blog so now I am reviewing it. Plus, I am currently enrolled in TCM’s free online program Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir and Dark Passage was one of the films sent out to break down the opening. They send out some questions to create discussion and the one I really liked was do you think if the first person point of view added to the tension of the opening scene. I absolutely think it does because you are looking at the world from the person’s point of view and you are hearing his thoughts and his anxieties and you see the other characters the way the person sees them. I think it the first person point of view was really genius it works very well for the story. Humphrey Bogart was a good choice for the character because he always played a tough guy and to hear this tough guy sound anxious created great tension. Dark Passage is a good film. It is worth watching as an atypical Film Noir and as a Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall film.