- The film is an early one for Bogart, and he’s good in it, but it’s in the archives based on the strength of Wyler’s direction
- It’s so weird to see Bogart get third billing- he’s behind Joel Sylvia Sidney and Joel McCrea here
- Gregg Toland work as DP- he’s just sensational- not enough is made of his work with Wyler- this is his 2nd of 6 oscar noms- he died way too young at age 44
- Bogey is playing his typical 1930’s era heavy before high sierra and Casablanca
- Depression era strikes and people hard on their luck
- Narrative issues with the sometimes incessant dead end kids
- 6-8 amazing mise-en-scene showpiece shots—real depth of field artistic beauty and deep focus work
- The film turns nasty in the finale with the shooting
- The 3 leads are very good
- “Baby Face” Martin is Bogey’s name- clearly a riff on Nelson
- Bogart is superb- he’s great in a scene where he’s crushed inside by both his mother and his old girl not being what he had hoped for or remembered- these are strong scenes
- Of course Ward Bond plays the doorman and is great with his 5 lines
- The opening is very strong- it starts with an establishing shot of the city and then we get long dueling establishing shots that morph into miniatures showing a slum set against a nice mansion set against a larger city- it really tells a silent story that is very strong off the bad— a few of the 6-8 great segments I mention above that have Wyler’s trademark all over it are poor kids playing in the foreground with the mansion in the background
- Recommend—close to fringe top 10
@Drake – I agree with you that the most praiseworthy elements of the movie are the direction and Toland’s work. But I think Richard Day achievement should also be mentioned. The decorations are really top-notch.
Having said that, I feel that the movie would have worked better with real locations (no insult to the great work of Richard Day) but I think this type of story needs it badly. It doesn’t matter how good are decorations, they still feel like decorations, you know? I think about Jules Dassin Naked City and how it uses of locations tremendously helped the story.
I’m curious what you think about Joel McCrae overall as an actor? It was a third movie with him that I’ve seen (others were These Three and Foreign Correspondent) and his functional as clean-cut hero. But it doesn’t seem that he has a lot of range, and in the charisma department he is usually beaten by his co-stars.
@Mad Mike- I’d agree with you here. I think McCrea really finds his stride with Preston Sturges in the early 1940s– Sullivan’s Travels and The Palm Beach Story– this third best would probably be Ride the High Country in 1962 with Peckinpah
@Drake – Thanks for the reply! Yeah, I’ve thought that maybe his collaborations with Sturges show a different side of him.
Would you say his is not as straight laced there, or is he just cast well by Sturges?
@Mad Mike– he feels more naturally at home with Sturges I’d say. Closer to Stewart than Gary Cooper
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