Saturday, 7 January 2017

Key Largo-Huston's Brilliance, Bogart's Presence and Edward G.Robinson's triumphant return.

Poster for Key Largo.
The Police car chases the Key West bus down on the Seven Mile Bridge, Sheriff Ben Wade talks to the driver as his Deputy goes aboard. 

They're after two Indians-young bucks in fancy shirts. The bus is full of Indians. The snappy dressers aren't aboard. Turning to the passenger on the seat behind his, the driver tells him these boys must be locals; they always head for home.

'Home being Key Largo' the man replies. The bus goes on its way, the palms bent with the hot, dry wind of the late season. 

Pulling up outside the Largo Hotel, the man alights and enters the hotel. 

As he enters the lobby, a flashily-dressed man in white hat, suspenders and spectators looks up from his magazine. The passenger rings the service bell and fans himself with his hat, unused to the autumn heat. 

The other wants to know his business. Is Mister Temple around?. He ain't here. Hotel's closed. When will he be back?. I don't know. The passenger follows the sound of a horse race through to the bar where a well-shaped woman sits on a stool, two well-fed fellows lounging either side of the bar of a type with the sharp dresser. The passenger wants a beer, but they tell him the bar's closed and Mr. Swank reminds him the hotel's closed. 

Toots (Right) as played by Harry Lewis.
Chin on hand, the woman orders Angel, the man behind the bar to give him a drink. Her voice is harsh, brassy... and soused. The 'bartender' produces a bottle and the passenger seats himself next to his new champion, her interest focusing on Lady Bountiful, who is chasing Bargain Lass to the post. The passenger watches, amused as the woman slaps the bar and shouts for Lady Bountiful, who lives up to her name and comes home first.

Claire Trevor won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Gaye Dawn.
The buzzer-board sounds, room eleven and the mood changes; it's him. A drink is prepared, the racing fan offers to deliver it, but White-Hat reaches over her to take it. If he wants her, he'll send for her. Trying to retain some dignity, she goes back to her seat and her paper. She likes Fancy Free, but he's carrying a lot of weight. What's his opinion?. Fancy Free. Does he play the ponies?. No-he hasn't the money.  

Alternative Poster.
She orders another beer from Angel, explaining she always plays the long shots, that way when she wins the horse pays big. Take Fancy Free; Morning Line at 12 to 1-that's ridiculous, he should be at least 4-1!. The passenger lights a smoke as she continues explaining her system. Look at the breeding-by Chance Play out of Misconstrue by Omaha, but hasn't won in eleven races. Today he's in a $3,000 claiming race, it oughta be a cinch. What's his name?. McCloud, Frank-by John out of Helen. She's Dawn-Miss Gaye Dawn. 'Toots', the fancy kid is back. 'He' wants her. Excusing herself, Gaye goes to 'him', fixing her face as she totters unsteadily away. The hoodlum leaning on the bar asks who the new arrival is. The kid doesn't know. What does he want?; Old man Temple. Turning from his glass, the hoodlum tells McCloud the hotel's closed for another month. So what are they doing here?. We're guests. By special arrangement. McCloud doesn't want to stay, he's just looking for Mr. Temple. Jerking a thumb, the hood says he's out by the boathouse.

Stepping outside, Frank sees James Temple sitting in his wheelchair, watching a beautiful blonde girl working on the jetty, a motor-yacht tied up alongside. Going up to the old man, Frank introduces himself. The name rings a bell; not Major McCloud?. The same. Suddenly animated, the elderly man calls the girl over; Nora. When did he arrive?-Frank says a few minutes ago, on his way to Key West. Running up, the girl takes Frank's hand as Mr. Temple explains she's George's widow. McCloud explains he was in the same outfit as Temple, Jnr overseas. She knows; she wrote him at St. Louis, but the letter travelled to Portland, St. Paul and Memphis before it was sent back. Frank's never been this far South before; everything's different, hotter too. Well, don't expect it to get any cooler before November, says the old man. The thermometer will get down to about a hundred, the sand-flies and mosquitoes will disappear and it'll be right livable for about three months, except for the tourists. Indicating a lump of stone out to sea, Frank asks if it's Black Caesar's Rock. Nora wonders how he knows, but for a man who's never been to the Keys, he learned a lot from George. James recalls George hunting for Blackbeard's treasure over there. He must have dug ten thousand holes, finding nothing, but salt water every time.

A French poster for the film.
Mr. Temple asks Frank how long he intends to stay; an hour or so. The old man isn't having any of it, surely he can stay longer-they have a lot to talk about. McCloud agrees to talk for as long as he wants. Turning to Nora, the old man says to give Frank George's room. As she goes to fix it up, Sherrif Wade and his Deputy arrive. Any news of the Osceola Brothers?. There isn't, but Old man Temple introduces Frank to Ben and Deputy Clyde Sawyer. The lawmen want to take a look around, but propelling himself along in his chair, Temple says they won't find them here. Maybe they're out in the mangrove swamps, but doubtless they'll hand themselves in before morning. Ben says the longer they stay out the tougher it'll be on them. Fool Indians; thirty days to go and they bust out. Wisely, James explains thirty days is like thirty years to an Indian. The Deputy still wants to look around, but Temple's word is good for Ben Wade. Alone again, the old man tells Frank the brothers grew up with George-there's no harm in them. All they did was go to Palm Grove and get a snootful, started to take Florida back for the Indians. Came close to succeeding. 

During a break in filming the scene.
Inside again, James introduces Frank to his guests, but they've already met. Proudly, the old man informs them Major McCloud was his son's c.o., fighting together from Salerno to Cassino. Frank looks coldly at Bass-the sharp kid-as Frank says his boy fell at Cassino.

Suddenly, a shout of pain sounds from upstairs and Frank starts forward. Upstairs, Nora watches as Hoff marches the woman through to number thirteen, throws her inside and locks the door after her. Frank rushes up the stairs as old man Temple yells to know what's going on. 'Curly' calls down nothing, but Temple calls for Nora. Curly appears at the stairs and says she's had one too many. Nora and Frank confront him, but he tells them she's a lush, when she bends the elbow she starts seeing things. A sock in the kisser is the cure. Exchanging meaningful looks, Nora and Frank go through to his room. He asks how long they have been there. 

Curly, the fat one and the woman showed up first. Mr. Temple told them the hotel was closed, but they offered to rent the whole hotel for a week. It was so much he couldn't refuse. Mr. Brown and the others turned up in the boat four days back. Brown never leaves his room, except at night. The others jump when he lifts a finger. Leaning back, Frank puzzles it out. Out of season, in this heat-why would they sit down on Key Largo?. Nora says they plan to leave tonight or tomorrow, then pauses to ask if he was with George when he died. Yes. Was he in pain?. He never knew what hit him. She asks him down to Dad's room when he's ready. Leaving to go downstairs, Nora is leered at by the gum-chewing Curly. Crossing the hall, he leans against the door jamb in Frank's room and introduces himself; Curly Hoff. He heard how Frank was with Temple's son in Italy. The kid got it, huh?. Too bad... he hopes Frank didn't take offence at the way they handled him downstairs. He caught them at a bad time, he explains-they were ready to bite anybody's head off-especially a certain blond's.

As Frank gets ready to go downstairs, Curly tells him five of them are down for the deep-sea fishing, all the way from Milwaukee. He follows Frank downstairs, keeping up his patter as he goes. Planned it over a year. So what happens?; one guy brings a dame after they all swore 'No Dames.' Well, if she isn't drunk and crying she's got a hangover and arguin'. Everything's spoiled, all this dough for the world's worst time. In a friendly way, he asks if Frank can blame them for getting rude. He can't. Nora goes to answer the telephone as Curly offers Frank a drink to make up for it. Hanging up, she says the storm signals are up. Hurricane on its way. She shows Frank through to the sitting room where the old man sits. A photo of his son sits on the table, his Silver Star sits next to a bundle of letters. Temple invites the Major to sit down, but he reminds him the war's over; he's a civilian now. 

The old man knows men who went over don't like to discuss it, but all he knows came from a War Department letter and it's left him in the dark. Leaning forward earnestly, Frank promises to tell him everything he knows. Well, he was a good soldier-he'd have been proud, just as every man in the Regiment was proud of George. He didn't just do his duty, he was a born hero. He didn't fear death, only dishonour. It was a wonder he made it to Cassino. Her eyes on somewhere else, Nora says when you believe like he did, dying isn't very important.

Frank reflects on this and recalls a time outside San Pietro, where George's observation post took a direct hit. The sole survivor, George stayed awake three days and nights to direct artillery fire. Frank was on the other end of the line for much of it and to stay awake, George talked. And talked. About James and Nora. They'd be surprised to learn how much he knows about them; for instance, her wedding ring bears the inscription 'Evermore' inside. And does the old man recall what he told young George what the hollow above the upper lip was?. He told him a story that before his birth he knew all the secrets of life and death. At his birth an angel came, placed his finger there to seal his lips. Temple remembers; George can't have been more than seven years old when he told him that tale. He asks what it's like where his son lies buried. Just crosses on a slope. High up, there's the remains of a church... You can see a river from where George is. Resolutely, the old man says he'd like to pay a visit to that place. Maybe they'll both go; him and Nora. After all, it belongs to them, that plot of ground. Offering Frank his hand in thanks, the younger man clasps it in both of his and thanks him, as the storm shutter bangs, announcing the first breath of the storm.

As she goes to fix the window, Nora tells Temple that there was a storm warning. He tells her to see to the boat. His duty to his friend's father done, Frank leaves the old man with his memories. And his grief. 

As they walk, Nora asks what brought Frank down here. He likes the sea and thought he might make his living on it. Doing what?. Doesn't matter, he says, hand on a fishing boat maybe. Life's become too complicated. What did he do before the war?-circulation manager for a newspaper. He went back, but couldn't stick it. He's tried various jobs, diriving taxis, waiting table, anything to make a living. 

Real-life Husband and Wife Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in their fourth and last film together.
As they pass the boathouse they find Curly and another man, Ralph Feeney waiting. Hauling the boat in, Frank asks how the ground tackle is off the stern-Nora says it's very heavy-so he suggests doubling up on the bowlines. He steps aboard, Nora asking where he learned about boats. Frank tells her his first sweetheart was a boat. Curly calls out to him; 'How do you like that boat?.' 

Director John Huston with his stars. Huston directs a taut, claustrophobic and memorable thriller.

Looking over his shoulder at the sleek lines of the motor yacht, Frank answers him; Nice craft. She oughta be away from those reefs with this blow coming up... Expertly, he coils the bowline and tosses it for Nora to catch and tie. The two hoods walk off, leaving Nora to watch Frank, a smile of obvious pleasure on her face at seeing a professional at work. Or is it something else?.

Spotting the approach of several canoes, Nora calls out; it's Charlie Wenoka and family, from Crawfish island. Charlie's royalty, a real Seminole Prince no less. It's a whole family, children to an ancient grandmother, her face carrying a line for every one of her years. The Indians pull up and Frank helps the old lady onto the dock. As he does, he misses the two young Indian men in flashy shirts arriving in a motor canoe. Nora spots them, but the significance is lost on her. The old lady is Mama Ochobee-all the Indians round here are her descendants. The old girl is over a hundred, but gamely asks if Frank's her new husband, before settling for a cigarette. 

What we see on screen...
...And the reality; the studio set-up at Warner Bros.
Nora asks Mama if there's a pretty big blow coming, the old lady answering by walking off the dock in search of shelter at the Hotel. The Indians always know when a storm is coming; more will come later, from as far as Matacumbe Key. Her arms on the shoulders of a pretty girl, Nora says she was born in the hotel lobby during the last big blow. She introduces the two fancy shirts; Tom and John, from the Osceola people. They shake Frank's hand warmly, Tom telling Nora they got Mr. Temple's message, better to give themselves up to the police. What Mr. Temple says, they do, he's a good friend to the Indian.

Walking back to the hotel, Nora tells Frank the Indians see old man Temple as the United States of America. He states she's very happy here-does she ever get lonely?. Shaking that one away, she asks if George ever told him how they met. At a USO dance; he was lonesome, she worked at a defense plant. She was lonely too. Before George her life hadn't been good, she didn't have much in the way of a home. George gave her roots; when he went overseas she stayed here with his Father. She just took hold, like one of those mangroves. The wind is getting up, the first lightning slashes at the sky and its time to get indoors. At the hotel, they spot the Sheriff's car; they always get their man. Nora asks Frank to close the shutters while she fetches the oil lamps, watched with a leer by Garcia, who's smoking a cigarette through a holder and playing with some cards. Feeney and 'Toots', the kid lounge around in the excessive heat.

As Frank steps inside, Curly asks 'What about that drink?'. Declining politely, the ex-Major goes about his business. Nervous, Feeney asks Curly what exactly goes on with one of these hurricanes. The wind blows so hard the sea gets up on its hind legs, walks over the land. Rain Rain, go away... The two Osceola brothers roll old man Temple into the lobby and he sends them outside to turn themselves in. All of a sudden, Toots starts laughing. Going over to him, hands in pockets, Curly asks what's so funny. In his magazine there's a joke; two cons inside, one sells the other a fountain pen. Guaranteed for life. For life, geddit?.  

Sourly, Curly replies he gets it all right. Temple calls over to where Frank's fastening the shutters; has he seen Wade or Sawyer around?. He hasn't. Curly offers Nora and her father in law a drink; coldly, she refuses and James just waves the suggestion away-he's not supposed to drink. What about Frank?; another time, he says. Curly's getting the idea he doesn't much like him-does he have smallpox or something?. Toots is laughing again; another joke. An elevator's busting through the roof of a building and the elevator boy tells the passengers; 'See, I told you there was no eleventh floor.' This at least gets a laugh from Curly (I was chuckling too), but then he turns sour again, asks the kid to explain it for them. Wise guy...

By now it's obvious to a fencepost these guys are gangsters, unwelcome ones at that. Feeney asks Nora what the idea of the oil lamps is-can anyone be this stupid?-and she tells him. Sweating with more than just heat, he says he hears Hurricanes rip off roofs and send people into the sky. Absolutely, says Temple; it's raining in on Ben's car, he asks Nora to go close the windows. Chewing his eternal stick of gum, Curly tells Ralph to do it, but Feeney's got the wind up and refuses. 

Taking a pull of his smoke, McCloud eyes these caricatures with disdain. The telephone; Curly says he'll take it. It's the Police station. When the caller asks for Mr. Temple he says he's not here, neither Nora. Frank exchanges a confused glance with the girl and Frank Temple rolls himself forward angrily. Curly says if Sawyer shows up he'll get him to call them right back, Nora wrestling for the phone. The fat gangster pushes her back and Frank's round the counter in a flash, only to be held in check by the .38 special in the hood's hand. Toots holds a colt automatic on him and the pretence is dropped.

Movie Gangster legend Edward G. Robinson is Johnny Rocco.
Lounging in his bath with a cigar and a paper, 'Mr. Brown'-once one of the biggest names in crime, listens as the group bustles up to his room, an electric fan cooling him, a cool drink helping it. He gets out of the bath to towel himself as Curly walks nonchalantly in to tell him what's happened, the luxury toiletries on the shelf below the mirror testament to this man's lifestyle. Curly helps his boss into a silken robe. 

Walking through to the bedroom, 'Brown' comments you'd think this rain would cool things off, but it don't. On the bed, Deputy Sawyer, his head bleeding from a nasty gash. The gang boss slaps him a few times, From the next room comes the voice of Temple, angry, yelling for 'Brown.' He sees Frank first, standing, hands at his sides and regards him with dark, glittering eyes. Eyes that have seen a lot in their time. Old man Temple sits and Nora stands, guarded by Toots and Angel. 

The storm outside is gathering with intensity, as if frustrated at these crooks holding up innocent people like this. The gangster's gaze returns to Frank, who returns it with growing recognition; even if he hasn't put a name to the face he knows this man is a big wheel. Temple asks if they are thieves, if they want money. Coolly, the kid replies they've come to steal all his towels. The automatic in his hand doesn't impress Temple one bit. He's willing to bet Toots spends hours in front of a mirror posing, trying to look tough. You scum...  

Telling Temple to shut up, the kid turns his gun towards the helpless old cripple* and Frank steps coldly between them. 'Brown' calls him off and steps into the room, clearly in charge of everything and everyone in it. Plainly, he states he doesn't want any trouble-with anybody. Now how's about it, gonna act sensible?. Temple's eyes bore through the crime lord with cold anger. He demands to know why they are pointing guns. Now look, pop, don't ask questions-what you don't know won't hurt you. They'll be out of there in a couple of hours. *Don't go crying; I'm not heartless-it's what disabled people were called back then and I'm keeping this in character, see?.

'Mr. Brown' asks Nora what they've got to eat, Pompano, maybe?. She doesn't answer, but Temple asks if they are his prisoners. Put it this way, says the gangster, you're gonna be his guests for a little while. Convivial, he turns to Frank and tells him back in the day they'd pay $10 for an order of Pompano, had it flown in to Chicago. Served in a brown paper bag... got any champagne?, he asks Nora. Her silence prompts Angel Garcia to answer for her; 'No champagne.' Too bad... A muffled groan from next door; Sawyer is coming round. He stumbles through to the others and stops, riveted to the spot. Recognition in his eyes, he tells the gang boss 'You won't get away with it, Rocco.' As he goes to step forward, Toots trips him, sending him crashing to the floor. Out cold. Nora rushes to his aid. Temple asks why they hurt him; because he's a cop. Then why are they here?. Spitefully, Rocco tells him to stop hollering and Frank finally has the name he's been searching for. Johnny Rocco... of course!. At the sound of his name, the crime boss looks as if someone's created a bad smell. Nora calls for hot water and Rocco tells Toots to provide it. Going over to Frank, he confirms his identity. Temple has heard the name and Frank explains he's the notorious gangster. The one and only.  

Rocco?... Rocco... the old man turns the name over on his tongue and Rocco bends forward, hand cocked to his ear. What's that pop?, I'm kind of deaf. Rocco!; Temple bellows the name in a roar. 

Playing to his audience, the gangster mugs; 'He said Rocco!.' The stooges all get a laugh from this, then the old man recalls they threw Rocco out of the country. Rocco remembers; after over thirty years living in the U.S.A. they called him a undesirable alien. Me, Johnny rocco-like I was a dirty Red or something. Then how can he be here?. Maybe he's not, it's all a dream... 'Wake up pop, you're snoring' adds Toots. Uncowed, the old man agrees with the gangster; he shouldn't have been deported, he should have been exterminated. The look that crosses Rocco's face bodes ill, seeing this, Frank steps in between and excuses the old man; he doesn't know what he's talking about-or who to.

Frank McCloud-Sir, Johnny Rocco was more than a King. He was an Emperor.
His rule extended over beer, slot machines, the numbers racket
and a dozen other forbidden enterprises.
He was a master of the fix;
whom he couldn't corrupt, he terrified, whom he couldn't terrify he murdered.
James Temple-You filth! You city filth!
McCloud-Oh, Mr. Temple, you're hopelessly old-fashioned, your ideas date back years,
you're still living in the time when America thought it could get along
without the Johnny Roccos.
(To Rocco) Welcome back, Rocco-it was all a mistake.
America's sorry for what it did to you.

Impressed by the speech, the kid asks Rocco, on the level, was he that big?. Sarcastic, Curly asks, on the level, is the kid that dumb?. Its been a long time since anyone thought of Johnny Rocco as anything but a has-been, a washed-out gangster. Frank's derisive eulogy brings it all back. Yeah, that's me-sure, I was all of those things. When Rocco spoke, everyone listened. What he said, went!. Nobody was as big as Rocco. He'll be that big again... bigger!. Leaning forward in his chair, the old man berates the big man; if the time ever comes when his kind can walk the streets in daylight, with nothing to fear... but Frank tells him the time has come; Rocco's here. Okay... so Frank knows about Rocco, so what's with him?. Well give!; in the war, wasn't he?. Yes. Get any medals?. A couple. Brave?. Not very. Why'd he stick his neck out?. No good reason. This is too much for Temple to take and he says as much. Turning towards the old man, Frank's eyes flash a signal; keep out of this. In answer to Rocco, he says he believed in some words. His eyes cold and dark on Rocco, he recites; "But we aren't making all this sacrifice of human effort and lives, to return to the kind of a world we had after the last World War. We're fighting to cleanse the world of ancient evils. Ancient ills." The gang boss has no idea what Frank's talking about, but Temple remembers those words and Frank tells him 'That makes two of us.' Determined, the old man points at Rocco; 'We rid ourselves of your kind once and for all, you ain't comin' back.' Turning on the helpless Temple, Rocco's question comes quietly; 'And who's gonna stop me, old man?.' 'If I wasn't a cripple...' 'You wouldn't be talking this way.' Enraged, Temple drags himself out of the chair and goes for the gangster, who steps back, laughing in his face. They all laugh, except Frank and Nora, mocking the futile, yet heroic effort. It ends with James taking a swing and ending up on the floor. Frank goes to his aid and, incensed, Nora goes at Rocco, battering with her fists and clawing at his face. Grabbing her by the wrists , he pulls her in to plant a kiss. A little wildcat... smell blood, huh?.

A beautifully designed Spanish Poster.
A knock at the door ends the party. Feeney comes in, waving the oppressive heat away with his hat. A phone call; Miami for the boss. Rocco relinquishes his grip on Nora and goes to take it, leaving the others to watch as she goes to help Frank with the old man. As they walk down into the lobby, Feeney tells Rocco there's a bunch of people on the porch, Indians. They want in from the Hurricane. Callously, Rocco says to keep them out. 

Answering as Mr. Brown, Rocco recognises the caller as an old pal, Ziggy. A bang at the shutters-maybe the law. Feeney goes to check. Meanwhile, the boss wants to know when the Miami end are coming down, but hasn't he heard?; there's a hurricane going. Feeney opens the shutters to find the yacht Skipper there to warn him of the Big Blow on the way. So what?. The coral reef isn't safe-they have to make for deep water, and right away. Coldly, Rocco determines the boat will stay where it is, but the Skipper persists; it'll break up on the reef. Rocco grabs the man by the sou'wester (ouch!) and lays it down; he paid him. The man insists, so, borrowing Feeney's rod, he holds it under the man's face. That's settles, then. The boat stays...

Back upstairs, Deputy Tom Sawyer has regained consciousness. Sitting on a couch he tells Frank et al he came to look for the Osceola boys. He knew they were someplace around. In the lobby he ran into Toots and Curly. They didn't look right, so he asked some questions. Realising what they were, he put in a call to Ben Wade, but before he could get through the lights went out. Next thing, Rocco was standing over him; he recognised him straight away. He made a break for the door and the lights went out again. Toots smiles quietly at the mention of his handiwork, then tells him he's the electrician...

Sourly, Rocco walks back in, switches on the light, wants a shave. Angel goes to get the razor. Smoking one of his eternal cigars, he says Miami are leaving right away. In an expansive mood, Rocco asks the Deputy how he's feeling. He'll say this; he can take it. By the way Toots poured it on he's surprised he ever woke up. Angel rubs the soap on as his boss tells Sawyer he's lost count of how many times coppers told him he wouldn't get away with it. His face granite, Tom says; I still say it. Rocco sees how much Tom wants to nail him, tells him his picture would be in all the papers. As the razor starts to shave, Rocco leans forward carelessly and states he was too much for any big city force to handle. It took the United States government to pin a rap on him-and they won't make it stick, he brags. Calling Tom a hick, he boats he'll be back pulling the strings before he gets a ten buck raise. How many of those guys in office owe everything to Rocco?. 

On screen together for the fifth time; Bogart and Edward G. Robinson.
He made 'em, yeah, just like a tailor makes a suit of clothes. He takes a nobody, grooms him, tells him what to say, pays his expenses, gets his boys to bring the voters out. The sneer on Frank's face speaks volumes. The crime lord continues; then he gets the count fixed and his man is elected. Then what happened?, did they remember him when the heat was on and the going got tough?, no, they didn't. Irritated, he waves Angel and the razor away, calls for a towel. 'Public Enemy', he calls me!. Stung by the betrayal, Rocco wants his clothes laid out.

Dabbing the soap away with the towel, Rocco looks at the assemblage in the mirror, fixes on Nora. Dam' little wildcat... He knew one like her a long time ago. She scratched, kicked, bit-a regular hellion. She even stuck a blade in him once. Irish kid. Little, scrawny, but a real fireball-name of Maggie Mooney. Her stage name was Gaye Dawn. Curly joins the reminisce; she was a knockout in those days. Walking up to Nora, he leans close, whispers something obscene in her ear. 

Her face is frozen, serene even, but the anger is there close below the surface all the same. The expression on Frank's face is somewhere between disgust, horror and hate. Without a word, Nora walks away, to stand, shoulders hunched in shame and outrage. Rocco won't leave it even now; the animal follows her for more whispered filth. It works; she turns on him and he grabs her wrists as she goes for him again. Temple is up in an instant, but Toots merely pulls him back into his chair. Nora spits in Rocco's face and he flares in an instant, his eyes bulging with spiteful rage. 

A monster is standing in this room. Frank cannot stand it any more, he goes to her, leading her away with an arm round her shoulder, a look of disgust for Rocco. Toots says for Rocco to smack her, get it out of his system and the old man rides the gang boss, the great Johnny Rocco, standing there with spittle hanging off his face. He says the name like it's a bad joke and Rocco snaps at him to shut up. Come over here, I'd like to spit on you... Temple's words hit the crook like a slap and all he can say is 'Gimme-Gimme.' for Curly to hand him his piece. Nothing to stop him from wiping them all out. Except Frank McCloud, standing in front of Nora-that and Curly who talks his boss down from his fury. Enjoying this tremendously, Toots says smack her and let it go at that. 

Thinking fast, Frank tells him that'd be alright for Toots, not for Rocco. The man himself doesn't want any advice and Frank says the Rocco's don't, or they wouldn't be Rocco's. No, smacking her isn't enough for such an insult; he'd have to kill her. Then the rest of them because they witnessed it. Not just Mr. Temple and himself, all the witnesses-all or nothing. Rocco frowns as Frank continues his psychological warfare. He's trying to divide the gang. He adds he needs Toots, Curly and Angel, so it would be nothing. Despite not wanting any opinions, Rocco knows good advice when he hears it, but all he can find to say is to call Frank a wise guy. The scene is broken up by Gaye hollering out for the door to be unlocked. Turning to hand Curly back his revolver, a defeated Rocco quietly orders Angel to let her out, walking from the room dabbing the defeat off his freshly-shaved face.

As the door shuts behind the great man, Curly admires Frank's quick thinking. It's good thing he said what he did when he did or Rocco would have started shooting. Frank looks sick, but Curly smiles; they got a closer shave than the one he got from Angel. 

Italian Lobby Card featuring publicity shot taken during filming of this scene.
McCloud sits down on the corner table, sick with fear at coming so close to death once more in his life. Breezily-and not a little loaded, Gaye Dawn enters the room, Angel behind her. Brightly, she plumps her her and says hello to everyone. She asks after Johnny; with his usual amused look, Curly tells her he's in the next room, dressing. Gamely, with the self-delusion of a drunk she says she needs a drink, asking what's everybody doing upstairs. Spotting Nora, her face darkens-has she been crying?. Who's been mean to her?-turning to Frank she says if its him he should be ashamed. Petting Nora, she suggests a little drink to chase the blues away. If that worked, hers would be on Saturn. Nora doesn't want one. Well, Gaye will have one. Angel reminds her what the boss said, but she doesn't care-she needs a drink. Frank takes care of his nerves with a cigarette and, seeing this, Gaye asks for one. 

Claire Trevor won the Oscar for her role as singer Gaye Dawn.
As he lights her, she asks if his horse won. His horse?, why no, he's afraid he ran out on the money. As if waking from a dream, Gaye finally notices the state Tom Sawyer's in, Toots polishing his gun. (He does this a lot, I think it's a metaphor. Either that or he's a wanker...) Shaking in sudden fear, Gaye tries to live up to the name and thinks she'll go to her room. She doesn't make the door, sitting in a chair she repeats her need for a drink. Nerves aren't only shot away on a battlefield. Angel reminds her what the boss said; no more drink. Well, this is a free country, if she wants one she can have one. She unzips her purse and tosses a note at him. Sorry, the boss, he say... The boss, the boss!-he can go to... but of course the man himself walks in at that moment. Quickly, she trots out 'Oh hello, Darling.' Doing up his tie, Rocco ignores the false greeting, asking instead how come it's hotter than in the day. When it's raining than when it ain't. Glancing over at Frank, he directs the question to him. Blowing smoke, Frank doesn't know. Rocco thought he knew all the answers. Thought he was a Wise Guy from way back. Clearly the gangster is still smarting from Nora' humiliation, wants to find someone to take it out on. Spotting the scratches on her meal-ticket's face, Nora tries to baby him, but he bats her away. Toots finds this funny and his imbecile child's laugh bursts out. Rocco demands to know what's funny and the kid's face freezes; nothing. Then why'd he laugh. Suddenly, he doesn't know. What's worse, Rocco asks Curly-a dumbbell or a wise guy?. A wise guy is his guess. Arms behind his back, Rocco strolls over to Frank, eager to vent. Got a million dollars?. No. How much?. Nothing. But you're a wise guy. Well, you see, I was educated only in impractical things, says Frank. With Rocco it's the opposite. Before Frank can explain this...

A sudden surge and the windows burst open, rain and wind blasting in, making the goons and Gaye nervous. Nora fixes the window and a jittery Rocco goes to Temple to ask what's happening. The beginning, the old man replies. Can cars get through this?. Maybe, says the old man, maybe not. Gaye steps in and tries to get a drink, but Rocco hasn't changed his mind. Going back to Frank he says what he said was the truth, but what he really thinks is 'I'm better than Rocco.' He's filth, right?. Temple agrees with this enthusiatically, but Frank stays silent. The gangster tells him he's thinking 'Rocco has a gun' and he hasn't. He figures it's the gun. Well listen, thousands of guys got guns, but there's only one Johnny Rocco. He stabs at himself with his thumb to emphasise the point. The old man asks how he accounts for it and coolly, Frank replies Rocco knows what he wants and to tell the old man what that is. For once, Rocco fumbles for the words and Frank is there to help out; he wants more. Delighted, Rocco jabs a finger-that's it!. More!. 'Will you ever get enough?.' Temple's question prompts Frank to add 'Will you, Rocco?.' Well, he never has... no, he guesses he won't.

Pointing at Frank, Rocco asks if he knows what he wants. Yes, and he had hopes once, but gave them up. Hopes for what?. A World in which there's no place for Johnny Rocco. With a gesture of salutation, Rocco draws and cocks a .32 Colt automatic. 

An image from the scene on a Lobby card.
Now's Frank's chance... taking Curly's rod the mob boss tosses the Colt to Frank. 'Okay, soldier you can make your hopes come true. But you gotta die for it.' Rocco is aiming right at McCloud's belly. 'Go ahead, shoot.'  

Preparing to shoot the scene; Bogart gets a touch-up from a makeup artist.
Nora comes over to Frank and Rocco warns her to get clear. With a tired, drawn expression Frank tells her to get away and Sawyer yells at Frank to shoot. Stepping back with death in his eyes, Frank hefts the gun in his hand, the old man urging him to kill Rocco. The hoodlum faces Frank and eggs him on; Go on Major, show them how you're not afraid to die... everyone in the room sees the hesitation and Rocco comments it looks like he doesn't want it enough. The kid laughs that infantile laugh at Frank. Tossing the Colt, McCloud's statement that one less Rocco in the World isn't worth dying for leaves a bad taste in his mouth even as he speaks the words. Nora's disappointment is plain to see, but old man Temple wants that gun. No, says Rocco; he's afraid he'd use it... one old man more or less isn't worth dying for. Spotting the look on Nora's face, Rocco steps over to her; what's the matter?, she looks like she's lost someone near and dear. Sneering over at Frank, Rocco goads him; 'A live war hero... now I know how you did it.' Turning away, the gangster calls his retinue, asking if they want a hero, here's one going cheap!.

Edward G.Robinson and Lauren Bacall on set.
Spotting his moment, Sawyer goes for the discarded Colt, edging toward the door. All right, he tells Rocco, lets play that game, see if he can stop him going through that door. But Rocco has to die first. Signalling at Toots with a sideways tilt of the head, Sawyer says even if the kid shoots him, Rocco gets it. Snarling at Toots to get out of the way, the Deputy moves to the door, barks at Angel to get away from it. As he edges backwards through the door, Rocco fires once. Fatally wounded, the dying man can only click the trigger on the empty Colt. Desperately racking the slide, he tries to make the automatic work, but Rocco shoots a second time. Gaye screams in horror as the deputy's body disappears over the balustrade, Angel Garcia clapping a hand to her mouth to stifle her scream. Frank McCloud stands, guilt and grief etched into his face. Nora realises the gun wasn't loaded, sitting down she comments Tom never had a chance. Temple speaks one word; Murderer. Matter of factly, Rocco states he had to do it to stop him leaving, adding the gun wasn't loaded-but 'our hero' didn't know that. Struggling to rekindle his faith in his Son's Commanding Officer, the old man says Frank knew the gun was empty, could tell by the weight. Uneasily, he replies; 'No, Sir, I didn't know.'  

The cover of the French Press Book.
Toots tells the old man Frank didn't have the nerve. With an assumed casualness, Gaye steps out from behind the thug and says Frank was smart; what happened to Tom would have happened to him. Dropping into a chair she adds better to be a live coward... then realises what she's said and excuses herself. Trying to spare Frank's feelings, Temple says they all knew he wasn't afraid. Forcefully, Frank corrects him, he was afraid, but the reason he didn't shoot wasn't that. What does he care for Rocco's life?. He only cares about his own, about 'me and mine.' Nora looks at the floor, disillusioned that the man she thought of as a hero turned out to be flesh and blood. Frank carries on; if Rocco wants to come back to America, let him be President-he fights nobody's battles but his own. Temple listens to all this in silence, but he can't see it Frank's way, neither did Sawyer. 'He was a fool', Frank asserts. Me, die to rid the world of a Johnny Rocco?! No, thanks! Angered, Nora rises to her feet; if she believed McCloud's way, she'd want to be dead too. Going to stand behind the old man she says Frank is a coward. What he's saying now is only to save his coward's face. The words cut through Frank as surely as any knife. Slumped, Temple is beginning to think maybe Frank's right. Nora refuses to meet Frank's gaze and the only sounds are those of the worsening storm.

The dark sea is a maelstrom of shifting waves, the wind threatening to overturn the small dinghy carrying Curly, Angel and Tom Sawyer's body. With Curly at the oars, the boat makes slow progress into the biting wind, all three soaked to the skin, but only two alive to feel it. Angel rolls the body over the side, a heavy block tied to the ankles.

Italian release poster.
Back in the hotel, Feeney mops up Tom's blood as an anxious Rocco paces up and down the foyer. Finally, the phone rings and the crime lord goes to answer. 

Italian Lobby Card featuring Edward G. Robinson.
It's Miami-and Rocco's not happy Ziggy hasn't started out yet. It's risky, the storm... So what?, didn't he take chances?. He made the run from Cuba, risking his neck, his boat and the shipment, and they won't come out in the rain?. Rocco lays down an ultimatum; they show tonight or the deal is off. He knows a dozen guy's that would break their neck to get hold of this shipment. His watch shows eight o'clock-if they're not here by ten the deal's off. The line goes dead as the hotel lights flicker ominously. Gaye jumps up with a start, frightened and the window crashes open again. Frank struggles to close the shutters. Gun in hand, Toots orders everyone downstairs, Frank and Nora helping the old man. Rocco stands, arms behind his back, watching with contempt as Gaye stumbles down the stairs and tries to appear nonchalant about it. Going to the bar, she fumbles a glass of whiskey as Rocco watches. She is about to take the drink when he warns her; no drinking. She pleads for just one, setting it down on the counter as Curly and Angel come in from the storm, both bedraggled and dishevelled. Rocco orders Curly to bring the shipment down.

Director John Huston coaches his cast on set.
Back in his wheelchair, Temple hears a sound at the door-a whimper. Rocco tells him about how he sent the Indians away and, appalled, Nora says he had no right. With a dismissive grunt, Rocco shrugs it off. Toots tells him the upstairs shutters have to be secured, or the roof might go. Rocco tells him to see to it, then goes back to the bar, picking up Gaye's drink. One thing he can't stand is a dame who's drunk. They turn his stomach; no good to themselves or anybody else. Viciously, he slings her drink across the floor. As his captive audience watches pityingly, the mobster points out she has the shakes. So she has a drink to get rid of them, then she's stinko. Wringing her hands, she reminds him he gave her her first drink. So?. Everybody has their first drink, don't they?, but everybody ain't a lush...

Gaye Dawn-If I'd known you'd act this way,
I wouldn't have come here.
Johnny Rocco-If I'd known what you're like,
you wouldn't have been asked.

Rocco tells the group it's been eight years since he saw Gaye. You wouldn't know it's the same dame. Hurt, she walks over to a table, says he hasn't changed one bit. Meaning what?. Subdued and miserable, she replies 'Nothing.' Then; 'Gee honey, you're as mean as can be.' Mean as can be... now what does that remind me of?. A case in hand, Curly jogs his memory; the song she used to sing. Rocco recalls how he took her from the chorus, made her a singer. Savagely Rocco asks why she isn't a singing star instead of a lush. She could have had a future. Nostalgically, Curly says she had everything; Rocco adds she had voice, looks, plenty of class. Putting a hand to her hair, she remembers. She was the rage. Going to her Rocco wants her to sing her old song. Right now?. Yeah. She says she can't, but he insists. She pleads with him not to make her-he won't make her do anything, but there's a drink in it if she does. First the song, then the drink. Without any accompaniment, she gathers herself together as best as she can. Rocco sits on a bar stool to enjoy her suffering.

Taken during preparation for the scene, this shot was used as a publicity still.
Bravely, she puts her audience in the picture, so they can imagine how it was. She used to have the best gowns, low cut, very décolleté. She wore hardly any make-up, a little lipstick. No lights, save a baby spot. She wouldn't have an entrance, they'd play the intro to a darkened house and the spot would come on-and there she'd be. Right on cue, Rocco and Curly clap, then the gangster waits expectantly. It's been a long time since she sang, her nerves plain. Awkwardly, she launches into her song, the one that always knocked 'em dead. 

Moaning low
My sweet man, I love him so
Though he's mean as can be
He's the kind of man
Needs the kind of woman
Like me
Gonna die
If sweet man should pass me by
If I die, where will he be?
He's the kind of man
Needs the kind of woman
Like me
Don't know any reason
Why he treats me so poorly
What have I gone and done?
Makes my trouble double
With his worries
When surely
I ain't deserving of none
Moaning low
My sweet man is gonna go
When he goes, oh, Lordy
He's the kind of man
Needs the kind of woman
Like me

Throughout this wretched performance, this embarrassing spectacle, Rocco watches Temple and co. to see their reaction. During this uncomfortable farce, their faces show pity and disgust. Pity for Gaye, disgust for the creature that's putting her through this torment just for the chance to feel better for a few minutes. A look at Curly confirmed Rocco's suspicion; she hasn't got it anymore. Finishing the song, Gaye throws herself onto the bar, asking for her drink.  

No...but he promised!-So what? You were rotten... it's too much for the poor woman, who goes, sobbing away to slump in a chair. Frank cannot bear to see her suffering any more. Going behind the bar, he takes a bottle and pours a glass, pushes past Angel and gives the forlorn Gaye the drink she earned. She gulps it down and thanks him, but Rocco is there and slaps Frank across the face. 

An image from the scene used on a Lobby Card.
With a look that could freeze fire, he ignores the insult to tell her she's welcome, before walking away. When Frank sits down, both Nora and Temple look on him with new respect. Smiling around his gum as usual, Curly invites Toots to play a little gin at the bar, but it's clear the storm has them all spooked.

The whole building is being shaken by its frame now, glasses falling from their nook over the bar. The hired guns aren't the only ones shook up by the storm; a nervous Rocco going to ask the old man how bad can it get. Well, the worst storm they ever had was back in '35. The wind sent a big wave right over Matecumbe key. Eight hundred people were washed out to sea. Rocco wants to know how far away that is. Oh, few miles... Turning away, the gang boss finds himself helpless in the face of nature, a bolt of lightning striking someplace close. Quietly, Nora apologises for the things she said upstairs. She asks if Frank can forgive her; of course he can. Rocco might have killed him for giving Gaye that drink. His head said one way, but his whole life another. As for the other things, maybe they're true, maybe it is a rotten world-but a cause isn't lost as long as someone's willing to go on fighting. He tells her he's not that someone, but she's convinced otherwise. He might not want to be, but he is; his whole life's against him. As one of the goons walks past, Frank asks what she knows about his life. A whole lot-from the way he looks, talks-and from George's letters. Most of his last letter was about Frank-only the way he had it Frank was the hero on the hill. Gaye watches with some satisfaction as Rocco's nerve falters, his relentless pacing not un-noticed by Frank either. More glasses go, the light fixture starts swinging from the ceiling.

Rocco spots Gaye's gaze, pauses to ask what's the matter with her?. With cold assurance, the answer; Nothing. His confidence shaken, Rocco snaps; why aren't any of them talking?, he wants to hear talking. Picking Curly, he wants some words. Anything, just so long as it's talk. Curly has to dig deep; he's scared too. Addressing Toots mainly, he reckons in two or three years they'll get prohibition back. This time we make it stick. That's all he has, so he repeats it. The trouble last time was too many guys fighting to be top dog. One mob gets to massacring another, the papers get ahold of it... the public gets the idea prohibition's no good... suddenly, a furious Rocco rounds on the old man. He doesn't believe eight hundred people died in '35, calls Temple a liar. Nobody'd live here after a thing like that!. Rocco turns to his lieutenant for support, but Curly recalls reading about it in the papers. By now, Frank's openly smiling at this washed-up gangster. Matter-of-fact, Temple gives the details; the barometer had dropped to 26 inches when the relief train pulled in; the carriages were blasted clear off the track. Two hundred miles an hour, that wind blew. A tidal wave twelve feet high went right across the key. Towns disappeared, mile after mile of track ripped up. Over five hundred bodies were recovered. For months afterwords they found corpses in the mangrove swamps. More glass crashes; another bang.

With a wolf's leer, Frank goads the petrified Rocco; he doesn't like it, does he?. Show it your gun, why don't you?-if it doesn't stop-shoot it. Again Curly starts up with the prohibition spiel; next time it'll be different. They learned their lessons all right. Next time, the mobs will get together. 

Rocco is horrified when Temple clasps his hands in prayer, beseeching the elements to send a big wave crashing down on them all. Destroy us all if need be, but punish him... screeching at Temple to shut up, Rocco whips out his automatic when the old man keeps up the routine. Calling the gangster by name, Frank leaps up, to get the barrel shoved in his gut. 

John Huston directs the scene.

The hollow clicks remind Rocco; it isn't loaded. Fumbling with the gun distractedly, Rocco walks away to look up at the ceiling as the wind shrieks and howls around the hotel. A picture falls from the wall-KRASH! A palm tree topples through the window in a spray of glass and sudden rain, the scene lit intermittently by the flashing lightning. Everybody cowers against the wall. Outside, the sea hurls itself at the beach, the palms bent by the force of the wind. 

The water floods up past the beach and into the hotel grounds, cascading against the porch where, helpless, the Indians huddle together desperately. 

Yelling out to Mr. Temple, their cries are ignored. However brutal the forces of nature, however, the laws they adhere to are immutable. Inevitably, storm turns to calm, fury turns to peace, the hurricane subsides.

Inside, Rocco paces the lobby, the others sitting exhausted. Nora sleeps, head on her folded arms. Tenderly, Frank reaches out a hand and strokes her hair. Waking, she looks up and gazes at him for a long moment, before realising the storm's passing. Frank says a torn shutter or two, some trash on the beach-in a few hours there'll be little to remind her what happened this night. Will they ever see him again?. He holds her gaze as, in the background, Rocco notes the storm's receding. She asks again and Temple turns round to tell him he'd be welcome to stay. 

Nora looks up at Frank with something approaching adoration as Temple insists she convince Frank they'd be happy to have him. She asks if he has any folks. He has none. The old man says he'd be proud if Frank regarded them as his family. Worried this might be too much, Nora tells Temple maybe that's not what Frank wants. The old man says to think it over, don't give an answer right away.

A sudden cry of alarm; it's Toots-the boat's gone!. Racing out look over the dock, the gangsters see their escape route has, indeed, gone. All there is the Hotel's fishing boat. The skipper ignored Rocco's warning not to move the yacht, moved it just the same. Curly wonders if he'll come back-no, says Rocco; he believed him when he said he'd kill him. Well, what are they gonna do?-they can't stay here. A peal of amused laughter from Gaye; she's enjoying every moment. 

In Spanish, Curly reminds his boss the Soldier knows about boats. Casually defiant, Rocco denies they're in any trouble. There's another boat out there, not much, but it'll get them to Cuba. Feeney asks who'll run it and Rocco strides over to where Frank stands, leaning against the wooden partition. Him. Frank's eyebrows are up at this news, but then an angry shout from the doorway; it's the Osceola brothers, furious at Temple for not letting them shelter from the storm. Unaware of the facts, the angry young men berate the old man for leaving women and babies outside in a hurricane. Tom says Temple is a friend of the Indians no more, they won't do as he advises any more. Temple pleads with them, but the group walks off into the rain. Hurt to his core, the old man confronts Rocco-who told him he'd sent them away. They were outside the whole storm. So what?, is Rocco's callous reply. They might have died out there...who cares?. Temple calls the gangster filth, the insult rolling off Rocco like water off a duck. Toots wants to know if McCloud can handle a boat. Curly recalls what Frank said to Nora on the dock; his first sweetheart was a boat.

Planting himself in front of McCloud, Rocco tells him plainly he's taking them to Cuba. He knows what'll happen if he refuses. Flatly, Frank refuses. Would he rather die?. Ah, he didn't say that...Rocco is confused, but Frank explains he won't kill him because he's their only chance of getting away from here. Rocco knows other ways of getting at a man, right, Toots?. Right. Maybe, Frank wonders, he'd be up to them. Confident, Rocco tells him he wouldn't be; after a few minutes of Toots he'd be frightened of coming out a cripple. All his answers would be the right ones. Well, Frank isn't so sure. Rocco is. If he's really anxious to find out, though, Toots will oblige-although he's a bit rusty, might make the odd slip here and there. That would be a pity as rocco admits Frank made real sense upstairs when he said one Rocco more or less ain't worth dying for... an urgent knocking at the door takes the attention off of Frank. Ziggy, thinks Curly. The knocking continues, Ben Wade's voice calling loudly for Mr. Temple. Hands still behind his back, Rocco states one wrong word from anybody and Wade gets it the same way Sawyer did. He tells Nora to let him in.

In rain-slick oilskin and hat, Ben Wade enters, carrying a flashlight. Is Sawyer here?. Honestly, Nora answers 'No'. Walking in to the lobby with it's odd party he finds it odd; Tom put in a call to him from here at seven o'clock. In friendly manner, Ben notices the damage and tells Rocco the power lines are out in some places. How's the road?, asks the gangster cheekily. Passable... he's trying to locate Sawyer, has anybody seen him?. Frank looks warily at Nora, lest she betray the goons and sign Ben's death warrant. Gaye, too is nervy. Something's wrong with this bunch, Ben asking again. Shaking his head slowly, Temple lets out a subdued denial. Ben wants to know who answered when he called back earlier and Curly said he came down, there was nobody around so he took the call. Probably, he says the Deputy dropped in to make his call and is stalled along the road right now, probably. Eyeing the hood suspiciously, Wade retorts he ain't between here and Palm Grove. He wouldn't have called without it being something special. Wade asks after the Osceola brothers. Again, Temple says no. Ben explains to the guests the brothers busted out of jail. Deciding to leave, Ben says he'll run down Matecumbe way, if Ben shows, he wants him to wait. Outside, Ben chats to Rocco about the fishing and returns to his car, clambering in as the rain and lightning starts up again. Turning his lights on, he suddenly spots Tom Sawyer' body, washed up onto the land by the storm. Picking up the lifeless* Deputy, he lays his body down, anger flashing in his eyes. Angrily, he yells at Rocco the body is Sawyer-murdered. Craftily, the gangster says although he didn't want to get involved, the Osceola brothers were here during the storm-they left a few minutes ago.
*Watch closely; you can see him still breathing.

Taking out his flashlight, Ben Wade runs out to the dock where a large group of Indians has gathered. Shining the light from face to face, the lawman spots the brothers at the end of the hut and they run for it. Drawing his revolver, he shouts to stop or he'll shoot. Two shots ring out. Not surprisingly, this gives a start to those in the hotel, Toots warning them not to get out of line. His face betraying his anger, Ben Wade walks back in to stand in front of old man Temple. 'His' Indians murdered Sawyer. Knowing he can say nothing without getting everyone killed, Temple has to take it as Wade accuses him of lying. He knew the Osceolas were here, that's why Sawyer called him. They thought they could hide it by sinking his body, but the storm threw it up. Anger clouding judgement, Ben even threatens Temple with being named as an accessory.  

The old man asks about the shooting and Ben tells him; he shot both brothers. Face racked with grief, Temple sinks his face in his hand and Frank knows two more deaths are on Rocco's long account. Something inside him seems to give, as if his reason was deserting him. Deserting... or returning?. Wade wants names; Rocco is Howard Brown, of Hotel Central, Milwaukee. How long will he be here?. A week...

As if seeing him for the first time, Wade becomes suspicious. Hasn't he seen him somewhere before?. Curly walks down the step chewing gum with his customary insolent disregard for authority. He's Richard Hoff, Central Hotel, Milwaukee. Rocco says they're all together. Next Frank, who gives his name and no address with a fixed stare that should have warned a tree-trunk with a badge on it. Toots is Edward Bass, same hotel, same place. At this moment a large man in hat and raincoat enters and asks how far to Key West. When no-one answers, he repeats his question and Nora says about 100 miles. Some hurricane, he says, thought it would blow them out into the ocean. Had to pull over until it was past. Some hurricane... 

Spanish poster.
Sheriff Wade leaves, promising to return in the morning for more blinding detective work. The big man wants something to eat and Rocco walks out onto the porch to watch Sherlock Holmes departing. The car outside is occupied by men who watch as Wade hauls Sawyer's body into his car. The stooges usher everyone into the adjoining room to the lobby. As soon as Wade's gone, Ziggy and his boys get out of the car and greet Rocco warmly. The two old gangsters joke with each other about putting on weight and losing hair, guffawing like they've heard the funniest joke ever. Ziggy's men stand like statues either side of the door. Rocco has Angel bring out Gaye and it's clear Ziggy's an admirer of old. She's as pretty as ever. Where was she when Rocco was inside?. Around. Say, if he'd known that he'd have tried to beat Johnny's time. Same old Ziggy, says Johnny. Getting rid of Gaye, Rocco has Curly bring the shipment brought over.

Marc Lawrence (Center) as Ziggy.
Opening the case reveals a stack of US bills. Holding one to the light of a kerosene lamp, Ziggy admires the feel, but his expert steps forward to make sure. Using a printer's loupe, the man scrutinises the note. While Toots and the big man eye each other warily. Lathe work's okay, portraits good-no breaks in the lines. Rocco assures Ziggy the serial numbers check out. Snapping the note, the expert pronounces it to be high-class merchandise. His job done, the technician steps back for Ziggy to toss bundles of the real stuff down for Rocco to count. Sitting in the living room examining George's Silver Star, Frank turns as Gaye whispers to him asking what he's going to do. 

A lobby card showing the same image.
She warns him not to go with them; they'd kill him in Cuba. He'd never walk off that boat. Leaning forward, Nora agrees with her, to tell them he'll go with them, then to make a break for it once he's outside. Gaye thinks it his only chance. Nora asks for Frank's thoughts. He tells her; she was right. Your head says one thing and your whole life another. Your head always loses. Gaye still thinks he should make a break in the dark. Run fella!. Yeah, he says-that's what his head tells him. Quietly, Temple asks if he plans to make a fight of it;

Frank McCloud-I've got to.
Not that one Rocco more or less makes
any difference in this world.
What I said upstairs still goes-
I haven't changed my tune.
It's just that-
I've got to.
James Temple-Well, if you're a fighter,
you can't walk away from a fight.
That's the answer, I guess.

Business concluded, Ziggy asks his old pal Johnny when he's coming back. Won't be long now. With him back, says Ziggy it'll be just like old times. Walking along with their muscle behind them, the two crooks speculate about the future. Ziggy bets inside of two years they'll have prohibition back-only this time different, Rocco says. This time the mobs will be together, no more blasting each other. With a slap on the arm and a hearty handshake, Ziggy and his boys take their leave. As soon as the car drives off, Rocco gives orders for everything to be brought don, ready to go, the soldier's stuff included. He tells Frank to give Feeney a hand and when McCloud steps out he demands to know if he'll help them. When get gets no answer, Rocco gives Toots the word and the kid starts winding a cloth round his gun barrel. Not keen on a pistol-whipping, Frank gives in. Going in to Temple, Rocco throws down a few hundred to cover the damage, then sidles up to Nora, asking her if she wants to come along, whispering more filth into her ear as she stands like a statue ignoring him. Laughing, Rocco admits defeat there and walks off, leaving her air clearer. 
Bogart in character for a publicity still.
Frank and Nora have a moment alone, staring into each other's eyes as if for the last time. Whole volumes are exchanged in that look. Feeney and Angel bring down the luggage and Rocco takes his hat and coat from the former. Gaye watches as he pockets his automatic, with a loaded clip this time, in his jacket pocket. Going up to her sugar daddy, she asks where her things are. He forgot; she's not going, pulling out some bills to pay her off. On that, she can stay drunk for a month. Desperate, she throws herself at him, begging him to take her along. She'll stop drinking-she'll do anything, she loves him!-she'll kill herself, she will... pushing her away from him, she turns and hands Frank the Colt she took from Rocco's jacket during the scene. As Toots walks Frank out, Temple wishes him good luck. With a look of honest admiration, so does Gaye. Nora watches him go with an intense passion.

The women rush to the door to watch the small group marching off to the boat. Gaye wonders why Frank didn't run. In moments, they're all aboard; Rocco, Curly, Angel, Toots, Feeney... and Frank. McCloud switches on the light for the compass then the control panel. Pressing the starter, the diesel kicks in with reluctance. Frank asks for the bow and stern lines to be cast off and they're away. As lightning flashes overhead, we see the name of the boat; Santana.  

'Santana' was, of course the name of Bogart's own, beloved yacht.
Nora and gaye watch the boat recede into the sea before walking, disconsolately back inside. Temple is struggling with the phone as Gaye says that was Frank's only chance. The lines are still down, to the old man's disgust. In despair, Temple wheels himself to the middle of the lobby, to sit in helpless rage and frustration. Nora drops to her knees and puts her head in his lap. I'm thinking the same as you-you dirty devils...

The Santana makes good headway through the calmer seas now the storm's passed. A heavy fog hangs over everything, reducing visibility to almost nothing. You can't even see the side of the studio tank. The hatch to the berths opens and up comes Curly, chewing his gum. How we doin'?. They're right on course. Well keep it that way. The hood walks back to the stern where Ralph Feeney stands, unmoved as Toots is losing his lunch over the side. He feels awful. Why not go downstairs?-it's too hot down there. The kid asks the time and Curly consults his watch; a little after four. Not even half-way yet. Feeney asks if the boss is sleeping, Curly says he is. Sidling back into the cockpit, Curly glances at the compass as Frank takes a pull on his cigarette, then goes back down, closing the hatch after him. Looking backwards, Frank weighs up the odds.

It's a Hallicrafters set... and I want one!
'Downstairs'-as Curly put it, the marine radio is spewing out a series of codes; Dog Unit Man Roger and so forth. On the lower bunk, Rocco is stretched out with a cigar, Angel on the bunk above. The radio mentions the Santana, bound for Cuba, a search is underway. Angel is worried, but a confident Rocco states in this fog they couldn't find the Queen Mary. Seating himself on the opposite bunk, Curly worries that leaving Gaye might not have been so bright. She's pretty sore. Rocco couldn't care less, but Curly persists; she might squeal out of spite. On Ziggy, he means. Coldly, Rocco regards his lieutenant. Well?... his broad face creased with laughter, Curly gets it. Ah, there's only one Johnny.

Eyeing the two hoods by the stern, McCloud tosses his cigarette overboard. Feeney is watching him closely, but Toots is out of the game still with seasickness. Making out he's working the controls, Frank draws the Colt and cocks it quietly. Playing with the choke, he engineers a stall and calls back to Feeney to take a look over the stern, to see if they've picked up any kelp on the prop. As the gangster does this, he has to lean right out and Frank guns it, spinning the wheel to send the hoodlum head first into the water. Feeney's sharp cry for help rouses Toots, who has his hand in his pocket in a heartbeat. It's not fast enough.  

BAM! Frank's Colt roars first. Toots shoots back, hitting Frank in the ribs, the the kid slumps back with a look of surprise, rolls over and dies. The three downstairs are off their bunks in a flash, but Frank dives across to Toot's body, grabs his piece and turns to shoot Curly as he comes through the hatch. Soldiers prize the high ground and Frank McCloud's no exception, hauling himself up onto the cowling to drag him self over to the hatch, he opens the cover and waits, with a perfect view of anyone stupid enough to come up from below.

Rocco asks what's the matter as Curly staggers back down to sit on his bunk. Checking his pockets, Rocco notices his gun is missing. Gaye!. All of a sudden, it's just him and Angel. Taking the revolver from Curly's dead hand, Rocco goes to the open hatchway, calling out for Toots and Ralph. When he gets no answer, he calls out 'Soldier'. Wisely, Frank stays silent. Turning to Angel, his last man, Rocco orders him up. The other's were gangsters, but Angel Garcia is a servant, a bar-tender. Despite the revolver in his hand, he's no killer. Shaking his head, he refuses. Rocco tells him there's nothing to be scared of, that Toots killed him anyway. 'Then you go, Johnn...' Rocco's shot finishes the sentence for him. Calling up, Rocco tells Frank Angel and Curly are dead. It's just the two of them. 

From now on, he proposes they become partners, 50-50, what does he say?. When Frank remains silent, Rocco's voice becomes more urgent. Rocco's fear turns to paranoia; he knows what Frank's thinking-do away with him and keep it all for himself, is that it?. Now Rocco's idea is to offer Frank all the money, tossing out the bag for Frank to see. That wolfish grin on his face, Frank leers as Rocco desperately promises him the world when they reach Cuba. Now worried Frank intends to take him in, Rocco snarls he's not big enough to do this to Rocco, he'll never bring him in, never!. Now Rocco figures Frank doesn't trust him because he's armed. Okay... the gangster grabs Angel's revolver and tosses it out as proof he's now unarmed.

Finally, Rocco calls he's coming out, he's got no gun and he's coming out... Frank watches as the grinning hoodlum emerges, revolver ready at his hip, calling out as he does. Johnny Rocco's last word is 'Soldier!'. He never sees it coming, Frank firing down into him. 

Italian lobby card featuring image from the climactic scene.
Mortally wounded, Rocco is still a dangerous animal, he realizes where the shot came from and fires up at the hatchway. Frank fires again, Rocco rises once more and a third shot from above finishes it. Finally, Johnny Rocco lies dead. 

Climbing down to the cockpit, Frank spins the wheel, heading back to the Keys. On the right heading, he lashes the wheel, a hand to his wound. Going below, he surveys the carnage for a moment, then gets on the radio to send a Mayday. Calling Nan Mike Abel, this is Abel Sugar Abel Nan... A voice snaps on over the speaker; the US Coastguard. Frank gives them the boat's name and his, states he needs medical attention and asks to be put through to the Largo Hotel.

In the Hotel, Ben Wade tells Nora the State Police picked Ziggy and his boys crossing the border into Georgia*. He tells Gaye she'll have to go and identify them. Earnestly, he thanks old man Temple for saving his life, but he has the Osceola brother's on his conscience now... he'd rather be dead than spill innocent blood. Generously, Temple tells him he's the one to blame; if they hadn't trusted him they wouldn't have turned up here and they'd still be alive. It seems they can't do anything but harm to those people even when they try to help them. 

Forcefully, her voice breaking with emotion, Gaye tells Temple it wasn't him, the law or anybody-it was only Johnny Rocco, nobody in the whole world is safe as long as he's alive. Wade tells her it's time to go.
*Given the time-frame, this is impossible.

German poster.
Temple and Nora sit, slumped, despairing of any good news. The phone!. Nora rushes to the phone to answer. It's Frank!. 

Nearly overcome, she thanks God and goes back to where the old man sits, expectantly. 'He's all right, Dad. He's coming back to us.' The old man smiles and she goes to the window, throwing open the shutters to let in the light of the new day. 

The Santana glides through the sea, Frank McCloud at the helm smiling hopefully, a hero once more.
Trade advertisement for the film.
The cast at a script read-through on set.
So ends John Huston's masterpiece; the man who brought us such treasures as The Maltese Falcon (1941) The African Queen (1951) and a childhood favourite, The Man Who Would Be King (1975) delivers a tense, lean thriller despite the tight budget (Studio constraints precluded location filming and even recycled hurricane footage).  Several scenes were cut by Warner Brothers, which infuriated Huston, but the claustrophobic setting and the outstanding performances ensured this became a classic. 

Claire Trevor accepts her Oscar.
Claire Trevor won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the alcoholic Gaye Dawn; Huston tricked her by implying the scene where she sings 'Moanin' Low' would be both lip-synched and shot at a later time after rehearsals. He hit her with it in front of the entire crew and cast and her nervy, at times pathetic performance gave the scene immortality. 

John Houston and Bogart on set.
Bogart and Bacall made their fourth and final film with Key Largo. Bacall is, well, Bacall; vulnerable, courageous and simply beautiful. Her un-sophisticated Nora Temple made the perfect counterpart to the cynical war-hero played by Bogart. His reluctance to be killed for a noble cause is far more believable than a gung-ho killer unafraaid of death could ever be and a clever move on Huston's part. 

Spanish Poster insert.
The cast relax between takes.
Bogart is electrifying-just as well, because Edward G. Robinson nearly steals the entire film. His mesmeric portrayal of the washed-up gangster Johnny Rocco is iconic; you simply can't take your eyes off the screen when he appears. His crime boss is ruthless, vain, cowardly and thoroughly wicked. Although seen as a spent force by then, Bogart insisted Robinson be given equal billing and Star treatment, even walking him from his dressing room to the set every day. 
Alternative Spanish Poster.
10% action, 90% boredom; the reality behind movie making.
Llionel Barrymore's James Temple is a fiesty, credible old man; in real-life disabled with arthritis, his nothing-to-lose bravery contrasts nicely with Bogart's character's refusal to stick his own neck out.

Llionel Barrymore
Thomas Gomez plays Richard 'Curly' Hoff; the wise-guy gangster chewing gum, his sardonic smile and manner are spot-on. I've met several modern-day gangsters in my time-this man could have blended in un-noticed. Noir  Stalwart Dan Seymour's Angel Garcia is also memorable, as is 'Toots' Bass, played by Harry Lewis. Lewis went on to own the 'Hamburger Hamlet' chain. 

Harry Lewis as 'Toots' Bass. Publicity Still.
A fatal habit; Bogart indulges in the habit that was to kill him. Cinematographer Karl Freund at left.
Marc Lawrence is Ziggy, giving his standard, excellent gangster performance. Lawrence went on to play in two Bond films-Diamonds are Forever (1971) and The Man With The Golden Gun (1974). The Osceola Brothers are played by Jay Silverheels (famous as Tonto in The Lone Ranger  tv series) and Rodd Redwing, who claimed to be a Native American, but was almost certainly born in India as Roderick Rajpurkali, Jnr. Monte Blue portrays the gullible Sheriff Ben Wade and William Haade is Ralph Feeney. 

Bogart and Barrymore; the frantic shooting schedule takes its toll.
Huston adapted the film from an original play by Maxwell anderson, in which an army deserter is held up by Mexican Bandits during the Spanish Civil War. The protagonist dies at the end. 

Shave and a Haircut; A signed Barrymore photograph taken backstage.
A rather lurid alternative poster.
Hurricanes don't pass that quickly and the reefs are far more remote than depicted in the film.
It's never reached-let alone dropped to-100 degrees in Key Largo; 97 is the current record.
The storm surge should have flooded the ground floor of the hotel completely.

Watch the palm trees bend; you can see the strings used to bend the model trees, also in the background some trees are unusually frozen; they are part of the painted backdrop.

One of the Osceola brothers is played by the legendary Jay Silverheels, famous as Tonto in The Lone Ranger tv show and movies.

Frank describes serving at San Pietro; Director John Huston was there, shooting a documentary (San Pietro-1945) for the U.S. Army motion picture unit.

Llionel Barrymore shares a joke with his co-stars.

Santana Productions is named for Bogart's beloved yacht.
Bogie on a bike; behind the scenes.
Although filmed almost entirely at Warner Brothers studios, the real life Key Largo was hit by two hurricanes in 1948.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall; soulmates.
The final confrontation on the boat is lifted wholesale from the Hemingway novel To Have and to Have Not. (Pub. 1937) 

Finally, an apple-ogy... regular readers of the blog will be used to seeing animated gifs in just about every post. Due to technical issues (Technically, Microsoft couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery, my gif-making programs all decided to go haywire on me in a concerted, some would say, evil and scheming attack that's left me bereft of the ability to make gifs. This shortfall will be rectified at the soonest possible moment and, rest assured, the relevant staff have been taken out and shot... until they were bloody sorry about letting you, the wonderful blog stalwarts down.)

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