Bogart and Bacall get to team up once again, but this is easily their weakest adventure. I had a feeling that something wasn’t right when I noticed that the name, Robinson, was between Bogart and Bacall. That’s not how it’s supposed to go right? This is definitely a classic 40s film and it’s still 6 years before the first Godzilla film, but something went dreadfully wrong. The film just moved away from some of the things that made the first few films so good.
Frank decides to pay his army friend’s father a visit as he travels down to the Key Largo section. The hotel is apparently closed, but the father seems happy to see him and Frank gets to meet his pal’s wife. They talk about the friend and what a good guy he was before he finally died in the war. There are a few shady characters in the hotel, but everything else seems to be all right. Some Indians are also around and they plan to turn themselves in for the good of everyone. They leave and prepare to do so later. That’s when the shady fellows decide to make their move and they take the hotel. Everyone has become their hostages now and they’ll all have to weather the hurricane together. There is a lot of tension in the air!
Well, this film definitely didn’t do it for me. For one thing, Bogart typically plays a hardcore lead who loves to mess with everyone. That’s not Frank in this one. Frank is still heroic and he’s a tough guy, but he doesn’t really talk back to the villains. He’s more of a subdued character who is tired of fighting and he’s ready to call it a day. He does make a lot of good moves like not falling for the empty gun trick, but he’s not as exciting as you might expect. Now, I’m not saying that Frank’s a bad character. He’s still a good lead and I agree with most of his moves. He doesn’t even get distracted by romance this time. He’s just not very exciting and he would make for a better supporting character if anything.
Nora is the main heroine and she’s the kind of character that a modern film could portray a little better. (Which is pretty rare) She tries to be tough when needed, but she just doesn’t look very good. She attacks the villain on two occasions, but she’s completely overpowered without doing any real damage. She’s a good character, but not one that is very enjoyable to see on screen since you know that she’ll just be defeated. I can’t say that this is Bacall’s best character to portray either. Nora just needed to get some sort of weapon to make things a little more interesting.
Johnny Rocco is the main villain and he’s about as unlikable as you would expect. He’s always chewing on a cigar or taking a bath. He’s not very bright and Frank makes fun of him from time to time. The only reason why he lasts so long is because he has a gun at the ready. There’s not much else to say about him. He’s just your average gangster who has a lot of minions who could technically beat him in a fight, but are afraid to do so. He’s easily the worst character in the film.
He’s got a handful of minions. One of them tends to laugh a lot while the other one likes to talk or grab a drink to ease the tension. A lady is along with the gang and she’s completely hooked on beer. She seems a little out of place with the group since she used to be a singer and everything, but she went down the wrong path. We’ve also got the Indians whose bond with the father is broken thanks to these circumstances. The cops don’t look too great as one of them is really slow on the uptake while the other one was quickly blindsided. The father of the dead friend really tries his best to keep on believing that the villains will be defeated, but he’s in a wheelchair so he’s not really in a position to fight. He does try though and it can be pretty sad to watch. It’s too bad for the guy since he had a pretty peaceful life up until that point.
One of the big things that hurt the film was that it’s just not very fun. We don’t get any of the witty banter that we have gotten used too in the other titles. Sure, Frank messes with the villain a little, but it can barely be called banter since it’s completely one sided. None of the characters are as charismatic as their older counterparts either. It’s a film where you are actually going to check your watch to see if it’s almost over.
The villains also get away with too much as you may have expected. The cops may be on the way, but it’s a little too late since one of the characters is already taken out and the hotel is basically ruined. Frank gets his big fight at the end and it’s good that he finally went on the offensive, but it definitely took a while. The main heroine’s attack that backfired is also another reason why the film was pretty doomed. It’s just another unnecessary scene to show off how “tough” the villain is. He’s pretty fat and he doesn’t work out so I don’t think he’ll be too strong. At the very least, it should be more of a fight. The Indians also get the short end of the stick here since their end isn’t very happy either.
There isn’t much of a soundtrack here. They squeeze in a song as per usual, but I can’t say that it was anything great. To be fair, I don’t think films really got good music until the 80s, although there are likely a few exceptions scattered about. There isn’t much scenery to look at either since most of the film takes place in the hotel. Not a lot of variety.
Overall, Key Largo lost the charm that the other team up films had. This one just isn’t fun to watch. We don’t have the epic banter and no fight scenes until the very end. The cast is also filled with mostly unlikable or bland characters. There’s no real romance this time, but the film was pretty sunk without it. If you’re looking for a classic (Pre Godzilla) film to watch, then I would recommend The Big Sleep instead. That one is a good example of how you should make a classic film. At least there wasn’t any animal violence here!