Thursday, 17 November 2016

Dark Passage-Bogart loses face, but wins Bacall

Here we are with Part Two of our Film Noir series...

The camera rolls across Point San Quentin, the forbidding fortress of the notorious prison forming the backdrop for the titles. Watchtowers cover every approach, every avenue of escape. A guard prowls a catwalk, rifle in hand. A supply truck rattles it's way from the prison, steel barrels in back as the escape siren goes off in the distant prison. 

One of the barrels has grown hands, which grip the rim tightly, rocking back and forth until, with a terrible crash, the barrel topples from the tailboard to roll down the hill.

Jarring to a halt against a rock, the inmate staggers free, dazed, dizzy and runs beneath a culvert, shedding his incriminating prison shirt. We see his point of view as he claws through some undergrowth, San Quentin across the water now-and Police riders on their machines roaring around the bend in the road, passing just feet from the desperate man. 

We hear his thoughts; 'They'll catch the truck-question the driver, search the barrels.' In five minutes they'll be back, combing the road. Time to take chances...

An old Ford Roadster pulls up, the back seat garish in striped fabric. The fresh-faced boy driving it asks how the inmate got his feet wet. Crossing a stream. He tells the kid he's going to the Civic Center in San Francisco. In his under-shirt?. Now he wants to know about the escapee's pants. Now where he's from; Arizona. Maricopa. The inmate remarks on the fancy seat cover, to be told it's from a carnival tent. Again with the questions; why isn't he more sunburned without a shirt?, why is he going to Frisco?. The inmate wants out; stop the jalopy and he'll hitch another ride. Newsflash; the radio blares a bulletin. A description of a face we've never seen. The kids stops the car, realises. Vincent Parry, sentenced for murdering his Wife three years ago.

Fists fly and the kid pleads to no avail, slumping against the wheel. A wiry arm, whipcord strong, drags him from the Roadster, unbuttons his shirt. A Ford Deluxe Station Wagon rolls past the other way, screeching to a halt just as the man is tying up his new shoes. We see his hand pick up a rock. 

A beautiful girl gets out, sees what he's done, but instead of screaming she's ice cold, resolved, purposeful. The same steel in her voice she tells our escaper to get into her car. She pleads with him, even knows his name. There's not much time. He doesn't have much choice, so he goes with her, hiding under a canvas; she was out painting when she heard the flash. They go through the Waldo tunnel towards the Golden Gate. 

 On the bridge itself, a roadblock. Showing her license, she asks if she's done anything wrong, eyes wide and eyebrows arched. He wants a look in back and his hand nearly brushes against Parry's own. After the perfunctory search, he waves her on.


As they drive over the bridge, Parry wants to know why she agreed to the search; they'd have only looked anyway. She took a chance, explains how she found him. She heard the news and looked for him. She remarks he's all set to clip her one and he replies he can't make mistakes. Maybe she's made one-a motorcycle cop is on their tail. He overtakes and stops at the toll gate. Time to hold your breath again. They get through without any trouble and eventually, the girl pulls up outside her place, 1360 Montgomery. He's not happy, but what choice does he have?. She'll count ten, then she should have the elevator ready. Parry follows, but someone comes down the stairs and he ducks inside the elevator car.

Pressing for her floor, the girl hides her nerves well, but Parry can see she's anxious. She'll go ahead again, make sure it's clear.

Inside her apartment, a luxury split-level affair, Parry asks why she's doing all this. She asks him to wait, goes up the curving stairs, says to put music on, if he likes. He does, switching the stereogram on. She likes swing. The girl hands Parry a newspaper clipping, from the Record's coverage of his trial. 

Letters to the editor. A letter from one Irene Jansen, protesting Parry's treatment at the hands of the press. She thought he was getting a raw deal. He can't see the sense of her attempts to help-while he does nothing the Police will be busy. The phone; Bob-and he wants dinner. Irene fobs him off with an excuse about wanting to finish some sketches. That did it for Parry, he's spooked and wants to get out. Then at least stay until tonight, she asks, let her get him some decent clothes to avoid suspicion. He takes a 40 in suits a 15½ shirt, 34 sleeves and so on. Irene goes to leave and tells Vincent to throw his clothes down the incinerator chute, get a hot shower and a shave.  

Again, all we see are Parry's hands-never his face. He puts the record on again, then there's a knock at the door and Parry recognises a voice from the past; Madge. She's insistent, but Parry tells her to go away. Mid-forties, dark haired in a leopard-print outfit. You know the type; haughty, meddlesome. 

Going upstairs, Vincent watches her leave through the blinds. She stops on the steps to the car park and looks up. He wishes he hadn't dropped those clothes down the chute-he wouldn't get far in a towel. Idly, he goes through the drawers in the dresser, finds a scrapbook. Pictures, clippings and one about a Calvin Jansen. Dies in prison. The photo is of an older man, a father. Sentenced to life for murdering his wife.

Irene catches him at it, her arms full of the things she's bought for him. She takes her clipping back, puts it away in the book. He tells her about the caller. Over coffee on the terrace, Parry feels she must get lonely up here by herself. Is that why she visits trials?. No, because it reminded her of her Father's. She knows he didn't kill her Step-Mother, he was innocent. It wasn't fate or destiny brought her to that road today, she doesn't believe in fate; her Father wasn't destined to die in prison. Maybe it was a kind of fate that led her to go out and paint; maybe she was simply thinking of Parry. She doesn't know. Realising she's said too much, she goes for cigarettes. Who's Bob?. He was engaged to someone else, that someone hates him now... but she doesn't want him to have anyone else?. Vincent's question arouses suspicion; how does he know?. He claims he knows people like that, but she knows he knew her-the woman who knocked, the witness against him at the trial. It's dark, he should be going. Irene pleads that she didn't see him, but she's the kind that always comes back, and back. She sees he means it and offers to pack the rest of his clothes while he finishes his smoke. Through the Deco frosted glass panels we see his silhouette as he enters the elevator, frosted glass bricks lit up by its passage. There's a taxi waiting and Vincent says to head downhill.

Vincent sits in shadow as the driver tries to make conversation. Sam, the Cabby launches into a story about a fare with a goldfish bowl, wanting to go from the Ferry building to the Pacific Ocean, the water slopping out on the seven steep hills in-between. Sam's a lonely guy; picks people up, takes them places. They don't talk to him. Despite himself, Vincent is starting to warm to this character. So where does he want to go?. Well, if Parry tells him he'll want to know why, ask questions. He's lonely, remember?. Lonely-and smart, as in about people. Faces for instance, he can tell his fare has a lot of trouble. Tense now, Vincent bluffs he doesn't have a trouble in the World. The Cabby knows who Vincent is, thinks his wife gave him trouble, so he slugged her. Sam warns Vincent not to slug him or he'll run the cab into a hotel lobby. Taking his hand from the door handle, Vincent offers him $500; he doesn't want it. So where does he want to go?. Defeated, Parry replies might as well make it the Police station, but Sam tells him not to be like that-he's doing fine, just fine.  

He pulls over into a quiet alley so they can talk. He asks Parry if he bumped his wife off. He didn't. Sam thinks he hit her with the ashtray because she made life miserable for him. He knows how it is. Suddenly, a cycle cop roars past. The danger having passed, Sam offers his passenger a smoke, asking him what she was like. All right, but she hated his guts. After a while he didn't care any more.

Desperate now, Parry asks what to do. He needs ideas, more than anything. And he didn't kill her, why go back to San Quentin for the rest of his life if he didn't kill her?. Sam has an idea. A friend does plastic work, changes faces. Vincent has $1,000 and that's it. All it would take is a coupla hundred. What's Sam's end?; nothing. It'll take around a week if he doesn't have to touch the nose. Maybe a little around the eyes and here and there. Has he a place to stay?-yes, a friend, the only close friend Vincent's ever had. Sam writes down the address; A Dr. Walter Coley in Plum Alley. He drops Parry off at Florence Street outside a wooden building. Inside, his friend, George Fellsinger is asleep on his bed, a copy of the Record on his torso. The headline reads 'Escaped Killer in S.F.' with a photo of Vincent Parry. 

Parry is a man in his mid-forties, wearing a mustache. The urgent buzzing of the buzzer wakes him and he's amazed to see his old pal. 

Earnest, open-featured, George is the kind of friend that comes through for you in a pinch. His place isn't much, but he invites Parry in, offers a drink. He doesn't think coming here was a clever move, the Police know they're friends. All Vincent needs is a week, just a week. He tells George he's having Plastic Surgery. Tonight. Then he tells George about Irene Jansen, how she helped. They are all he has to bank on. George hands him the spare key. He's surprised to see him, then Vincent says he was almost a surprise to Madge Rapf when she knocked. Madge knows this Irene?... Madge knows everybody, pesters everybody.

His plain features taking a grim edge, George states all his life he's tried not to hate people, but hates Madge for the way she testified against Parry. He doesn't believe Gert Parry's final words were: 'Vincent did it. Vincent killed me.' Vincent sees it another way; Gert hated him, that's why she said it. George disagrees; she just didn't care for him any more. Purposefully, he leans towards the fugitive. Madge framed him-she wanted to hook him, when she found she couldn't she framed him. Vincent cracks wise that maybe she'll get run over-George certainly has been praying she will. Spotting the trumpet on the music stand, Vincent remarks that George still practises. Only when the neighbors are out. Handing the trumpet to Vincent so he can see, he mentions the keys are inlaid with semi-precious stones. George reminds Vincent of the time he spent his last cent-$900-on a fire opal ring for Mrs. Parry, only for her to throw it back at him. It's time to be going-for Vincent Parry to get a new face.

On the way down Kearny Street, a stranger asks for a match and almost recognizes Vincent. A lucky escape. Finding Plum Alley, he goes to the door marked 'WALTER COLEY' with the single word 'SPECIALIST' beneath. Sam the Cabby opens the door and asks how it's going. 'Longest twelve blocks I ever walked.' Just a coupla weeks ago Sam picked up a woman who'd had a face job from a quack, it had rained and her face had melted. Not this guy, this guy is great. Doctor Coley is in his late sixties, a bulbous and broken nose in front of a face with dark eyes and more lines than Union Pacific. Through the smoke from his cigarette he regards the patient, invites him to come back into the light. 

He thinks it'll work out nicely. Round the eyes mostly, and around the mouth. Add some to the cheeks from there-and there... He'll leave the nose alone; it's a nice nose, be a shame to break it. Does he mind a few scars? As if he's been in an auto wreck?. How old would he like to look?. That's up to him, replies Vincent. Coley will make him older, not too old, nor too young. Sam asks the doctor not to leave too much scarring, it's a good face, that's why he brought him. The doctor tells Sam to wait in the other room, read a magazine. And the patient to sit in the chair. 

Looking up at the dark skylight, Vincent asks will it take long?. Ninety minutes-no more, no less. The doctor turns around, straight-razor in hand. He explains to a nervous patient that he has to be clean shaven before the operation. Alarmingly, he confides he perfected his own special technique twelve years ago... before he was kicked out of the medical association. Smiling, razor in hand the disgraced medico explains his method is based partly on calling a spade a spade, he doesn't monkey around. Doctor Coley asks for his money and-unbelievably, Vincent doesn't run off screaming and  he pays up. All $200. Mixing the shaving brush in the soap, the Smiling Surgeon asks if Vincent's ever seen any botched plastic jobs... if a man like him didn't like a fellow, he could surely fix him up for life. Make him look like a bulldog, or a monkey!. He laughs at his little joke-he's laughing alone-and then tells Parry he'll make him look older, but good. Vincent hopes he's not a coward when he starts in and Doc Smiley responds that we're all cowards, there's no such thing as courage-only fear of getting hurt. This guy must be in demand at parties. He won't feel any pain, he'll give him some shots to freeze his face, and he places a wet towel over Vincent's face...

In a dreamlike-haze, we see what Vincent sees... a medical model of the facial muscles becomes three, turns, eyes glowing, with Irene's face in the middle of the inverted triangle. She's telling him it'll be all right. Then, the Kid from the car, the one Vincent beat up, punching at him only to become Madge, insistently knocking on the door. A quintet of Sams, the Cabby offering him a light, which begins to spin like a crazy wheel. Now George's honest, friendly features, then the Doctor's, manic, grinning as he thumbs the razor.  

Got the money? Got the money? Got the money? Now a kaleidoscope of Doctors, spinning and dissolving into the mask again. Ever see a botched plastic job? Ever see a botched plastic job? - and Irene again, reassuring him. It'll be all right... again the Doctor's faces, Make you look like a bulldog or a monkey... Now there's ten of him, all laughing away manically.

Finally, he comes round to see the smiling faces of Sam and the Doctor. Parry lies in the chair, his face wrapped in bandages. All that's visible is his eyes, nose, mouth and hair. He's about to speak, but Coley raises a finger in warning; don't talk, you're all taped up. There's a space open for nourishment, he can take liquids through a straw and smoke-with a holder. Don't move your mouth and don't talk. The bandages can come off on the morning of the Twelfth. He'll be healed by then and he can shave. Well, he did a fine job. If Vincent feels sore under his arm, it's because he had to borrow some skin from under there. Now for some questions; for yes, just blink. 

Do you have a place to stay?. Blink. Someone to help?. Blink. Good. When you get there, talk to that person using pencil and paper. Vincent must sleep flat on his back, hands tied so he can't turn over. Got that straight?. Blink. Getting up, Parry looks at his reflection in the mirror, Sam gets his coat as Coley remarks maybe he did it, maybe he didn't. Sam says not. He's known Sam a long time and has a lot of faith in him-that's why he took this job. If he thought he was a killer, he wouldn't have any part of it. Now he'll look ten years older, but feel ten years younger. The artist in him wishes he could see the result, but he never will. Goodbye. They shake hands as Coley wishes Vincent good luck.

The dawn is breaking as Sam drops Vincent off at George's place. They say their farewells and, under protest Sam accepts a bill. From now on, they don't know each other-or who fixed his face. A blink and a handshake and Sam's gone. Letting himself into George's humble apartment, Vincent is shocked to find him lying dead on the floor, a bloody wound on his head. His beloved trumpet lies next to his body, dented and the phone hangs off the hook. The murder weapon. Why would anybody kill George?. Poor guy, all he wanted to do-Vincent picks up the trumpet-is go to South America with me and play the trumpet.*
Now he's dead-murdered. They'll think Parry did it. A tinny voice from the ear-piece of the phone; Operator...Operator... Vincent has to go. There's only one place for him to go...
*Presumably this line was less funny in 1947, but for some reason it strikes me as hilarious. 
Vincent Parry makes the exhausting walk to Irene's place. It's just over a mile, uphill. Just over a mile for a man in shock, recovering from surgery is a long walk. Going up the Filbert Street steps he's taunted by some Joes going to work. Have a hard night, bud?-trouble with the little woman?.

He staggers on, case in hand, desperate now. He's come five miles*, great if he can't make it now. Got to keep climbing... when he reaches the car-park across from the apartment building, he can't believe his eyes; the Roadster that first picked him up sits there!. The same gaudy striped seat cover confirms it. The sun's coming up. Maybe it's just some wild co-incidence?. Staggering wildly, Parry forces himself on into the lobby, pressing Irene's buzzer just in time to slump, collapsed to the floor. *Not according to Google maps, he hasn't.

The next thing Vincent sees is Irene's beautiful face, swirling out of the haze. She hands him a coffee with a straw. She wants the story, but he points to his mouth so she fetches a pad and pencil. Taxi driver helped him, bandages stay on until the twelfth, can smoke through a holder. She lights one for him.

His face hurts, as does his right arm. He needs to sleep. She helps him to her room. After some much-needed sleep, the prettiest Nurse ever brings him a tray of liquid brunch and unties him. (Lucky he didn't need the bathroom...) If he wants to read, here's the paper;

She tells him it says his finger-prints were on the trumpet, that apart from his and George's there weren't any others found. They think Parry demanded aid, which Fellsinger refused. Earnestly, she asks if he did it. He shakes no, his eyes as earnest and honest as any ever were. Who could have done it?. He didn't tell her about visiting George. Reaching for the pad, he writes; He was my closest friend! What else hasn't he told her?. His thoughts turn to the Roadster outside and he lies to her, shaking his head. She has to report to the Settlement House as she teaches kids there to draw four days a week. Alone, Vincent looks at the paper, the photos of his friend lying dead and the photo of himself. How he used to look. Outside, unseen by anyone but us, the Kid looks up at the apartment before returning to his jalopy.

That night, Vincent and Irene dine together, a rain shower outside. Playfully, she teases him he looks better by candle light. In fact, he looks like he's blocked a kick at a football game. Ever play?. He shakes his head, then makes a slugging motion. Baseball. Suddenly, the phone rings and Vincent hurries to turn off the music while Irene answers. It's Bob, asking about dinner. She's had dinner. He wants to drop in, in twenty minutes. Alright. It's better to let him come up, but don't worry-she can get rid of him. They have time to finish their coffee; Vincent can hide in the bedroom. It'td gotten so Bob depends on seeing her, she'd like to break it off, but can't think how to do it without hurting him. Madge knows he comes here, even thought it funny-while telling Irene what a cheap, selfish worthless fiancĂ© he was. She doesn't want him; it's just she doesn't want him to have anything. Not even Irene's friendship. She can't understand Madge. Seems that causing unhappiness is the only thing that gives her any. 

All of a sudden, the door buzzer goes; Bob's here and in a lot less than twenty minutes. Vincent goes upstairs to hide while she clears the cups and tray. An urgent knocking and Irene lets in a desperate Madge. She's heard about George and is terrified Parry will kill her. She says Irene is the only person she can stay with. Irene pours a drink. Madge wants to stay, hide there, but Irene refuses. Why is she dressed up?. She's expecting Bob any moment, so Madge decides she can hide in the bedroom. 

Oh-oh. Coldly, Irene tells her why does she have to stick her dirty needles in?, she doesn't like it. Eyebrow raised, the harridan claims it doesn't matter to her what Bob does. Irene asks her to go. Then she'll have to stay with her-she makes to go to the stairs to help Irene pack, but the artist is saved by the bell. Bob. Madge will have to take the stairs, but Madge refuses to go; she'll be murdered.

Bob comes in unbuttoning his raincoat. Vincent listens through the bedroom door. Bob asks why Madge can't leave people alone?. She's never satisfied; if it's not her family she's pestering it's her friends, people she doesn't even know... him. Vincent Parry is loose somewhere in this city, he has no feeling for people, claims Madge. 

No feeling for you comes back. Her face like a knife, she bursts out that he wouldn't care if Parry found her and killed her. Face filled with disdain, he goes to warm his hands by the fire, remarking that she's the last person Parry wants to see, let alone kill. You know why and you know I know why... Irene wants to know what kind of a riddle this is. Bob explains; Madge pestered Parry, kept after him 'til she had a hold on him. That's why he killed his wife-to get her out of the way. Truly ugly now, Madge snaps back that Parry killed Gertrude because he hated her. That's why he'll kill her. Bob isn't wavering; Parry doesn't hate Madge, she's not the type that makes people hate. Maybe Parry didn't have the brains to know it-Irene sits back, interested, putting a cigarette into her mouth-she drove him to it. He hasn't any brains, or he wouldn't have killed Fellsinger or come to San Francisco in the first place. He's looking at the gas chamber. Persistent as ever, Madge is not to be shaken from her conviction; Parry has nothing to lose by killing her. (And, if it was me, I'd take that on board...)

Haughtily, Bob sneers at Madge's fussing and frothing; he's never met Parry, but psychologically, the man's no killer. Scornful, the shrew attacks Bob's character, attempting to demean him. He's heard it all before, when he was a monkey and thought he wanted to marry her. She scratches back-she can say plenty. Very true, even Parry must have enough sense to stay away...but she cuts across him, screeching that he never had anything to do with her. Somehow keeping his composure, Bob's parting shot is; 'Santa Claus is nothing to do with Christmas.' Right on cue, the sound man underscores this with a clap of thunder. Arms folded, the Wicked Witch of the West Coast comes over and states 'Somebody lied to you.' He says Gertrude wasn't a liar. She was a lot of other things... 'She lied to you.' In the background, forgotten in her own apartment, Irene listens as Bob demands Madge deny meeting Parry in secret. Taken aback, she claims not to understand. Yes she does-she hired someone to watch him (Bob).

Madge-I did not.Bob-But I hired your little rat
at double his price to watch you.
The very next day, he made good.
He told me a man named Vincent Parry...
visited you for four hours
the night before the murder.
I have his sworn statement.
Irene-Why didn't you give it to Parry's lawyer
at the time of the trial?
Bob-lt'd only have given the jury
another reason why he killed Gert.
I knew Parry was guilty, anyway, so....
Irene(Suspiciously)-And besides, it would have involved you.Bob(Ashamed)-Sure. I didn't want any part of the mess.Madge-That's all a vicious lie.
He's just trying to make me look bad.
Irene wants Madge to leave, but she refuses to go home alone. Bob refuses to take her, so it'll have to be a taxi. Spitefully, Madge mentions the phonograph being on earlier. Bob wants an explanation and Irene is tense. Madge thinks it was Bob with Irene when she rang yesterday. It wasn't him. Then who?. Bob recalls a phone call he had at work, checking he was there. Now it fits. He asks Irene who she was with. A man?. Irene can't resist it; her eyes full of sparkle and mischief, she tells them. It was Vincent Parry, (Who is listening still, eyes wide with alarm.) he dropped by to murder her. 

Very funny, but Bob persists; it was a man. Is it serious?. Taking her chance to let him down gently as possible, Irene replies she wants to give it a chance. Bob takes it on the chin, wishing her luck and placing his hand on hers, offers to take Madge home. The intefering old co... I mean, Madge wants to know when she can call Irene next. She'll be busy, which goes down well-Madge threatening to call in a couple of days, perhaps tomorrow night. Bob suggests throwing the sofa at her-my choice would have been water, and they leave.

Irene goes up to see Vincent, who's not happy at her sense of humour. She re-assures him if he'd seen their faces, he'd know she'd handled it right. Now he won't bother her and he won't let her either, Vincent will be safe. Neither of them knows that outside the Kid sits in his roadster. Watching. Maybe the clap of thunder might have warned them...

Next mornings Record brings us the news of a Woman freed of check charges, the appointment of a Volunteer committee's appointment to assist a Social Service group and, bizarrely, Priests fight a seminary blaze, with eight firemen hurt. You wonder why the firemen got hurt if the Priests fought the fire at St.Vincents... but there I go again. No!, the headline blasts; KILLER STILL AT LARGE, the net being spread for Vincent Parry, the dangerous killer. Men are watching the stations.

Another Record front page declaims a $5,000 reward for his capture. And MODERN PORTIA AMAZES COURT (Not the inkling of a clue there...). Men are watching the Ferry Terminal. 

The Mail informs us the search for Parry has spread over three states, helpfully adding his vital statistics to the now-familiar picture. Also helpfully, the camera closes in on the mugshot, so we can be surprised when the moment comes...

Vincent is awoken by Irene. It's time. Time for the bandages to come off. She brings him breakfast and unties him. He wanted to be woken early so as to get a good start. How's his face?. He replies it stopped itching like the Doc said. Irene reminds him it's a pretty big moment, he tells her the Doc said he could make him look like a bulldog if he botched the job. She helps him into his robe and the big moment is here. Cutting the bandages carefully away, Irene watches, Vincent's eyes showing his trust in her. And is that love we see?. Piece by piece, the wrappings come off Vincent's brand new face. Irene dabs at him with some cotton wool for some reason, prolonging the agony. And-at last, removes the last of the dressings. Her hand goes involuntarily to her collar, as if she doesn't know what to make of it. Parry is worried; 'Well?.' Then-'Is it that bad?.' Going to the mirror, he sees this;

Sorry. He sees Humphrey Bogart, with a week's stubble. Hooray!. What was that address again?. Doc, I'd like to be Humphrey Bogart too...  

ANYWAY; Vincent checks himself over. Same eyes... same nose... Same hair. Everything else seems to be in a different place. He sure looks older. Irene wants to see how he looks after a shave. She'll wait downstairs, get a fresh impression.

Vincent comes down, shaved and suited. He looks unbelievable says Irene, but good. Her face says it all. She likes it better, if anything. Parry tells her not to get any ideas, not to change hers. He likes it just as it is. Just then, the record finishes and breaks the spell, Vincent going to play the other side once more. After all, he may not hear it again for a long time. Jo Stafford singing Too Marvellous for Words. He stands, awkward while she gazes adoringly at him.

He has to be going, the sooner the better. Where?; to clear himself, find out who killed George. He's not angry enough to take chances, but he is curious; about his Wife's murder, George's. He's sorry for George. Eyes moist, Irene tells him she thought she had a good life here, but now he's going, it doesn't seem like it. Fretfully, he says he feels like he's got the Indian sign on him, he can't win. She reminds him wherever he goes, he'll leave fingerprints. Don't even try. He accepts this, he guesses the only thing for him to do is get the next bus out of town. Where to, he's not so sure-she got him some South American brochures, but he doesn't seem sure. Crestfallen, she pouts that he does know, but won't tell her. Okay, he does. Persistent, she asks if he thinks she'd ever let 'them' know where he was?. Stubbornly, the answer comes back-'Could be.' She sees through the bluff, rising and shaking her lovely head gently. She knows it's because he's afraid she'll follow him. Face to face. You'd be insane to follow me...Was I insane to pick you up on the road?...Was I crazy to let you stay here?... he puts a hand on her cheek and kisses her. 

No amount of acting compares with it; these are two people enraptured, hopelessly lost in each other. He says 'Yes' and kisses her again. She tells him he doesn't want her there, doesn't need her there... he supposes so and she goes to call a taxi.

The buzzer sounds the arrival of the cab; funny how quickly they come when you don't want them to come at all. Irene tells him he'll be fine now, mentions his name. 

He realises he'll need a new one. She wants to choose, comes up with Alan. Alan... Linton. Uh-uh, he knew a guy with a name like that once, didn't like it. How about Linelle?. Alan Linelle. Goodbye Alan. Again the insistent buzzer reminds them this is it. He wants to say more, but there isn't any possible way. All he can say is goodbye. Going down the hall, he presses the button and waits, looking back to see her watching.

The cabbie isn't happy at being kept waiting, Vincent-Alan nervous of recognition. But the Doc did a great job and Alan asks for Post and Fillmore. 

The cab drops Alan at Harry's Wagon (And just how fabulous would it be to have these places back today?) for Coffee, Ham and Eggs, picking up the paper. The sports section is missing, but Harry-or whoever he is-asks what he wants to know. Race results. Track?; Bay Meadows. This gets the interest of the only other customer, as the season's over at Bay Meadows.

The guy would have to be a cop. He saunters over, coffee in hand and asks questions. Where's his raincoat? 'Alan' says he's absent-minded. No sale. Okay, he hasn't got one. Why up so early?-he couldn't sleep. Alan claims to be an Investment Counsellor. Slyly, the cop asks what AT&T is selling for-without missing a beat, Alan says a hundred and seventy. Where's the office?. Portland. Why's he here?-Hiding, from his Wife, his friends... from everybody. Not without sympathy, the cop says it can't be as bad as all that. Brazenly, Alan advises him to spent seven years living with her, then come down and tell him about it. Not happy at his customers doing the grilling, Harry (or whoever) sets Alan's breakfast down. His hand shakes lifting the cup and Eagle Eyes hasn't missed this. Inevitably, he wants cards. Alan says his identification's at the Hotel. Persistent, the Detective wants his address in Portland and, taut to breaking point Alan sets down his cutlery firmly, saying lets go to the Hotel now, then he can eat in peace. It doesn't help when Alan tries to pay with a hundred by mistake. Harry (etc) is sorry about that crack about Bay Meadows...

The Detective asks where the Hotel is as they walk down the sidewalk. Straight down the block. A car is coming and they wait on the kerb, Alan leaping forward at the last second. The cop follows him and bounces off the fender. Alan runs for it while the outraged, Italian driver is remonstrating loudly with the cop.

Harry (you know) arrives and hears the guy's life-story. The Detective opens a Police box and calls it in. The Italian shouts that this man should be arrested, then Harry (Actually, we'll just assume he is Harry. Shall we?.) points out he's a cop. Kennedy-the cop-informs his Sergeant and gives Alan's description. Brown hair, striped suit etc. Meantime, Alan himself is checking in to the Kean Hotel on Mission Street.

Later that morning we see Alan Linelle stuck in his hotel room with no idea what to do or where to do it. The sudden rapping on his door, persistent and not to be ignored, gives Alan a fright. Opening the door, he sees the Kid standing there, a gun in his hand. In shock, he raises his hands, steps back into the room. 

He can get $5,000 for shooting Alan-Alive or Dead. Has he talked to the cops?, he's not dumb; if he was, he would have talked to them. He's no dope-although he must have looked like it when Parry was slugging him. So how much?. $60,000. Alan is appalled-he can't come near it. She can... Irene Jansen. He knows she's worth a coupla hundred grand, she can spare it. Alan tries telling the Kid Irene's untouchable-but he knows she hid him and she'd take the rap for it, as well as an accessory to the Fellsinger job. She'd get twenty years. Hands still in the air, Alan doubts it. Okay, let's be generous says the Kid, a nasty smile on his features. She only gets ten... still worth $60,000 to stay out.

Eyeing the gun nervously, Alan says 'No.' Okay... the smiling blackmailer goes to the phone on the wall, taking the ear-piece off the hook. That does it; Alan tells him to hang it up. Tells him he's got to think it over. The kid wants to go to Irene's for her to write the check. Apalled, Alan asks what is he?. He replies he was a small-time crook until this moment, now a big-time crook. He wants to know who did Vincent's/Alan's work and they/he refuse to answer, but would like a smoke. The Kid refuses; keep 'em up. He gets the idea Alan should turn around so he can frisk him, which turns up nothing. Alan wants to sit down and that's okay, but hands behind the chair so he can keep an eye on him. 

The Kid tells Alan he didn't figure on being slugged in the Jalopy (ever been punched in the Jalopy?, me neither, but it sounds painful...) and wryly, Alan responds he wished he'd slugged him harder.

The Kid reveals he came to in time to see Irene helping him, got her license number. He called an auto club he knows, they gave him her name, address and even financial status. He informs Alan he kept an eye on her place. This time when Alan asks he gets a cigarette. The Kid held back in case of other involved parties and followed Alan this morning when he left. Suddenly nervy, the Kid orders Alan up, both hands and himself, to get his coat. Downstairs, he tells Alan to drive the Roadster. As they put-putter off, the Kid holds a gun on Alan. 

They'd better get out of traffic-those pinstripes will get them both picked up. Alan takes them well out of the way-heading out to Fort Point below the bridge.  

Cheerfully, the blackmailer turns travel agent, advising Linelle Mexico's good, to go through Arizona. Buy a car at Benton, he says, a little place near the border. As he'll need papers, he should try the print shop there, a buddy of his will fix him up with the right paperwork. Ask for Ferris, tell him Baker set him up. Didn't he learn all this in Quentin?. He's been in there twice and learned plenty. There's some mighty smart guys at Quentin... somehow, Alan manages to keep a straight face.

Baker dimly realizes Linelle's taking the long way round and Alan stalls, tells him it's the back way to her place. Partly to keep the smart guy's mind occupied, he asks the way to Benton. Take one of those fly-by-night buses; he plans to take one himself, soon as he gets the cash. You see, the cops... but Alan butts in; what cash?. 'The two hundred thousand dollars... I mean, the sixty.' Clearly, this lemon wants all of Irene's money. Alan picks him up on it and it's clear that while the kid still has the gun, Alan's gaining the upper hand here. This is no gangster, just a dumb kid on the make. As they drive through a gate, Baker is agitated, realising he's been driven to the middle of nowhere. A road that doesn't lead to anywhere. Alan snaps down his protest, tells him he's lived here all his life and he's telling him it does. Just as the kid realises it's the road under the bridge, Alan hits the brakes, causing the kid to bash his head. They fight for the gun, Alan gets it, ordering Baker to get out. Letting the kid pick his hat up, Linelle tells him to take a stroll, someplace they won't be seen. No surprises, Baker figures he plans to kill him. Not unless he tries for the gun. 

They walk over to the bluff above Fort Point itself. Alan asks if Baker killed George. No. Follow him there?; again, no-he waited for him to return to the girl's place. He explains that as Alan left in a taxi, he didn't try to follow; his jalopy won't do better than thirty and it couldn't hope to keep up with a cab (Unless it's in Brighton, England...) Alan tells him he didn't know the cab would make speed, the real reason he didn't try was he knew it was already being followed. By another car.

Baker-I didn't see any car.Linelle-Tell me or I'll shoot it out of you.Baker-I didn't see any car!Linelle-If you want to walk away from here,
tell me if it's the same car I think it was.
I haven't got a thing to lose. Not a thing.
Baker-It was a convertible coupe...
had a canvas top, it was a bright color.
I think it was orange.
Linelle-Bright orange. Who was in it?Baker-I couldn't see.Linelle-Okay, I guess I got all I need.Baker-What happens to me?Linelle-That's not my worry.
You can check off the $200,000
you were going to get from the girl.
You know, it's wonderful
when guys like you lose out.
Makes guys like me think
maybe we got a chance in this world.
Baker(Going for the gun)-Don't count me out so easy!.

The two struggle desperately, wrestling for the gun between them. The kid seems to have the upper hand, slugging Linelle, clawing at his face. Alan bites down on his thumb. Hard. With a grunt of pain, the kid reels back... off the bluff. Getting to his feet, alan looks down on the broken body. Thanks my good friend. Now I know who killed my Wife and George...

The spy-hole in the door opens to reveal Madge's face. Miss Rapf?. She doesn't recognise her caller, but likes what she sees. Who are you?. Alan tells her he's a friend of Bob. She doesn't go out with Bob any more... That's why he's here. Amused by his freshness, she lets him in. Alan carries a present, gift-wrapped. Alan flirts with her and she takes the bait, flirts right back. He lights a smoke. Luckily she doesn't recognise the voice or the mannerisms, though he does remind her of somebody... she sets down a cushion, kneels and unwraps his present; a box of candy. 

Seeing her dress, he remarks he should have brought it in an orange box, she seems to like orange. She confesses, it's her weakness. Pushing it further, he guesses everything she owns is orange, even her car. Even my car... even her favourite gem is Mexican opal. Alan smokes as she tells him of a friend she had once, who was as crazy about it as her. Putting down his cigarette, steel in his voice and flint in his heart Alan reveals he gave someone a fire opal once. It had flaws in it. 

At this, Madge realises who this man is, her face disbelieving, terrified yet disbelieving. What is it?, the suit?, the one she followed?, or the face that doesn't go with the eyes?. It's really me... Get out of here, Vincent... 'No, I'm the pest now. You've always been the pest, but now I'm going to be because I know you killed Gert and you killed George.' Shaken to the core, she tells Vincent to go away, they'll never find him now. He wants them to find him, he's written down his evidence that she followed him from Irene's to George's. These facts will take the police back to the day she killed Gert.

Hands in pockets, he stands before her as she sits, helplessly. It must have turned her stomach to know she couldn't get to him without killing Gert, she put gloves on and picked up that ashtray. No prints, just his on his own ashtray. He adds that he heard the conversation between her and Bob, more evidence. So, he's with Bob on this... he lets her think so, while she's alone. She killed George because she knew Irene was interested in him (Parry) and thought that the best way to put a stop to it. Finally, to try to force a confession, he pulls out his ace, an envelope. It's all written in here. Haughtily, she snaps that's no evidence, it's just the way he figures it. Does he expect her to sign it?. She gets up, crafty as ever. Just how did he figure she thought him mixed up with Irene?. When the buzzer went that day she knew it wasn't Bob told her to go away, she checked his place of work to be sure. Madge knew Irene spent every day at his trial and that he'd escaped, put the two together for a fit. She waited until he came out, followed in her orange roadster. 'Prove it', she says and he waves his envelope at her. It's all in there, he says. 

He says she gave George the 'I'm frightened' routine then killed him when his guard was down. Didn't she?. 'Yes.' One word, strangled, almost a squeak. Will she tell that to the Police?. No. He goes for his hat, stands there dramatically. He tells her he's going to the Police, she reminds him she hasn't signed it-and she won't. Throwing his hat down, he goes towards her, enraged. In every paper in the country, he's a killer-he never thought it possible to kill anybody until this minute. Anxiety fighting her bitterness, Madge speaks.

Madge-She's got you now. But you've got me.
But if you don't hold on to me,
it means they're still after you.
As long as you don't have me,
you can't prove anything...
because I'm the proof.
Linelle-You'll be there.
You'll never be able to prove anything,
because I won't be there.
You need...something concrete.
You need evidence. You need me.
And without me,
you don't have a witness, do you?
Of course not. You don't have a witness...
no witness, nothing!
Linelle-I've got evidence.
Madge-Your evidence isn't any good,
because you can't prove it without me.
Linelle-And I've got you.
Madge-Don't be so sure of yourself.
Linelle-You'll never get away.
You'll never get out of my sight.

Bitterly, her face twisted with spite, Madge hisses that Irene wants him very badly, she's willing to run away with him and ruin everything for herself. He watches, horrified, disgusted as the tirade continues; Irene wouldn't care because all she wants is him. But she doesn't have him now and she'll never have him and that's the way she (Madge) wants it. Nobody knows what he wrote down... but they'll believe her!. 

She grabs at a drawer on her dresser as Linelle rushes towards her. Panicked, Madge goes to the window behind the curtain-a smashing of glass-and a scream!. Accidentally, she's fallen through her own window, meeting justice and fate some fourteen or so floors below. 

Grabbing his hat, Alan makes a run for it, but there's already worried voices on the stairs below, calling for the Police. Spotting a sign for the roof, he takes the chance, finding himself out on top of the building. 

There's a fire escape, so he goes down it, making it just as the sirens announce the cops have arrived. 

Standing in the middle of Greenwich, he looks 
around, spots a tram coming. Hopping on, he makes his escape. 

The car takes him through the city, to the terminus at Powell Street, a cop watching him suspiciously until he gets off as the car turns around on the turntable.

Alan walks into the White Arrow Bus Line building and leans on the counter while the clerk finishes taking a call, his cigar in his mouth as he 'Uh-Huh's' a customer. Hanging up, he asks where he wants to go. Absent-mindedly, he answers 'Peru'. Indiana?, no, he meant Benton, Arizona. Looking it up in the schedule, the man has one for Kingman, Ash Fork, Prescott, Iron Springs. Linelle wants Benton, Arizona. Lets see... Skull Valley, Wickenberg... well whaddy'a know?, here's Benton. $12.50. When does it leave?-when that guy over by the door yells 'Arizona'. When will that be?-when the mood strikes him. Which means, when they sell twelve tickets-there's two to go.

Taking a seat on the bench, Alan listens to the other passengers gripe about the lousy service, no-one cares about anybody else these days. A lady sits with her children as a tired-looking traveller tells her no-one gives a hang about the other fellow. There was a time when folks used to give each other a helping hand. Alan goes over to the jukebox, puts on a tune as the man decides he has something in common with the woman. Being alone. She smiles, brightly. The start of something beautiful, perhaps. Taking this all in, maybe is what prompts Linelle to do it. He goes to a phone booth and calls Irene. As the door concertinas closed behind him the cop from the terminus walks in, alert, watchful. 

Alan tells Irene it was Madge who killed them both, but he'll never prove it. He went for a showdown, she admitted it, then stumbled. It'll be in the papers. They'll say he pushed her, but he wants her to know how it was. The cop is asking questions with the clerk, who shakes his head, busy. Her face lit up, she knows he didn't just phone about Madge; he admits he never could fool her. He asks her to get a map of South America, look up Peru. There's a little town on the coast called Paita. Now listen, he won't write, they have to give it plenty of time. There's a little cafe down on the bay. She gets the idea, tells him to hang up, just like that. Hang up. As he does, we see the cop is still looking around, for him. 

The clerk tells the cop he'll keep his eye out, anything for a cop. Selling a ticket for Phoenix, he shouts out to Ross-the man by the door and Arizona boards. The kids are asking the woman if they can sit by Michael, their new friend. The driver calls back; 'All set?' and the engine throbs and roars its way out of the station, the man who was once Vincent Parry sat anxiously in back. 

The rolling surf crashes and breaks from it's long journey across the Pacific. The barman in the club pours a drink over crushed ice for the waiter to deliver, a band playing lively music. Two parrots sit on their swing while the dancers gaily circle on the floor and the waiter brings Mr. Linelle his drink. 

He sits, sipping through his straw as he has done every night for... how long is it now?. Alone, waiting alone, always alone. Perhaps for nothing.

He's shaken from his reverie by a familiar tune, the band has struck up the tune he used to listen to at Irene's place. What the?, looking up, he suddenly sees her standing by the door. 

Beautiful as ever. Smiling the smile she smiles just for him. Irene makes her way to him through the dancing couples. Standing, he says nothing-for what could he say?. Taking her in his arms, they begin to dance. 

Dark Passage is a little like a jigsaw put together by a blind man, with the pieces jammed together to make them fit. The first-person perspective works, although its inevitably a little contrived at times. It can't have been easy to do back in 1947. The third of Bogart's four films with Lauren Bacall, it is better to watch than it should be. There are problems-the dialogue is a bit soupy, where fewer words would do, more are crammed in. The co-incidences of Irene picking up Parry, Madge knowing everyone and the cabby that picks Parry up just happens to know a plastic surgeon at a loose end. For some reason, Madge fails to recognise 'Linelle's' voice, though she was on intimate terms with Parry. The surgery itself leaves no scars, which would win awards today-and we all knew it would be Bogart's face under the bandages, so the surprise factor is lacking. Watch Minority Report (2002) for a homage to the Surgery scene, complete with scary quack. Madge's death was downright weird, whilst poor George Fellsinger's brass-based demise had me laughing out loud. Bogart himself isn't always 100% in this film-or even close to it, something holding him back. The silly script?.

Now, the real star of the film is San Francisco; the locations are beautifully linked (You can take a walk around them much as Vincent Parry did) and this helps the movie enormously. The Malloch Building, that streamline-moderne masterpiece features (At least the exterior, lobby and hallway-Irene's apartment is a studio set), landmarks such as the Waldo Tunnel (Later the Rainbow tunnel and now, of course, the Robin Williams tunnel) and the Golden Gate feature, all adding to a realistic setting, if not premise.

The film is a treasure, but it shouldn't be. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I'm not alone. I've read several reviews on other blogs and the feeling is mutual. Bacall is stunning, Bogart is, well, Bogart, but it's not that. There are some moments of genuine tension; the roadblocks, the near-misses. The performances do shine, though; Madge Rapf as played by Agnes Moorhead turns from an annoying friend into a hideous monster in a masterpiece of the Actor's trade. Houseley Stevenson's disgraced surgeon should have taken the Golden Scalpel for best Movie Quack; his face alone is worth seeing this film. He manages to make a visit to his chair-in itself a leap of faith-truly terrifying. Tom D'Andrea is Sam, the Cabby-another fine supporting turn. All in all, I think the film conveys feelings better than reality, the few realistic glimpses helping it all along; Parry isn't a criminal genius, he doesn't have a clue what to do for much of the film and that is probably most of us in such a spot. Irene's character is so misty for Parry, the body-count piling up around him can't shake her faith and that, too is realistic. We all know someone who loves the wrong person for them. In this type of film-I'll bet you're thinking of The Fugitive (1993) here-the protagonist always solves the crime and clears his name. While Vincent Parry achieves the former, he remains a wanted felon and has to flee. As must I. Dark Passage is a good film, never a great one. It makes the list here because of how much fun it is to watch.


Trivial Pursuits; The actor whose face is shown in the newspaper pictures of Vincent Parry is Frank Wilcox. Warner Brothers paid Author David Goodis the then stratospheric sum of $25,000 to make the film from his Novel of the same name. Jack Warner was reportedly incensed to learn that his biggest star was only seen in it for the second half. 
Shurely Shome Mishtake; Benton, Arizona does not exist, unlike Benson, Arizona-immortalised in the title song from the seminal Sci-Fi comedy Dark Star (1974). 

Finally, I am indebted to this incredible site, without which the preceding review would have read something like this 'And then Parry ran down another road. It was on a hill or something...'

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