Category Archives: 1947 Films

Dark Passage-1947

Dark Passage-1947

Director Delmer Daves

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall

Scott’s Review #1,393

Reviewed August 25, 2023

Grade: B

In 1947, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were big Hollywood stars. Dark Passage is the third of four films the real-life couple made together in the 1940s and must have catapulted audiences to theaters to see the power couple perform.

To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), and Key Largo (1948) were the others.

Dark Passage is based on the 1946 novel of the same title by David Goodis.

Vincent Parry (Bogart) has just escaped from San Quentin prison near San Francisco, California after being locked up for murdering his wife, a crime he did not commit.

He finds a plastic surgeon to give him new features. After getting a ride out of town from a stranger, Vincent crosses paths with a young woman Irene Jansen, (Bacall) who lets him stay in her apartment while he heals and continues to try and clear his name.

The duo falls madly in love and attempts to figure out the puzzle and find the real killer.

Delmer Daves, a director with whom I’m not familiar, also writes the screenplay. The first portion of the film uses superior camera angles and the use of the point of view (POV) filming from Vincent’s perspective.

The audience sees what Vincent sees. This was used to justify Vincent’s plastic surgery and the knowledge that viewers wouldn’t buy a different actor from Bogart. It makes sense and brings a creative technological perspective to the film quality.

Something about black-and-white filmmaking always conjures up 1940s cinema for me. That Dark Passage is a thriller with film noir elements making it all the more effective.

A personal treat for me was to see the exterior sequences of San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge and Union Square are easy to spot and having spent time in both locales I was fascinated by what both looked and felt like in the 1940s.

Notwithstanding the ‘look,’ the main draw is Bogart and Bacall. Having not seen their other films the chemistry is apparent in Vincent and Irene.

The tenderness between the pair considering the characters have only just met is strong, especially during a quiet scene when they sip after-dinner coffee next to a window with driving California rain.

They are getting to know each other and so is the audience.

Bacall who is terrific and smolders with sensuality and confidence easily outshines Bogart who doesn’t deliver his best work. This could be partly because he doesn’t speak until the midway point of the film but there is an aura that Bacall has that Bogart doesn’t.

My favorite film of his is Casablanca (1942).

The story starts tremendously with mystery and intrigue. Who killed Vincent’s wife quickly becomes who killed Vincent’s friend after he is also found murdered.

A tremendous scene between Vincent and a man he hitches a ride from and a taxi cab driver who helps Vincent increases the thrill ride with quick and engaging dialogue meant to hold suspense.

The climax fizzles with an overly complicated and overwrought build-up to the final reveal that drags. When the villains are unmasked their motivations are a bit suspect and underwhelming.

One character plummeting from a high-rise window to their death is pretty cool, especially for 1947. The shrieking neighbor and the dead body displayed along the sidewalk is a highlight.

Also, a sliver of the film takes place in beautiful Peru and is a comparison to the nightclub featured in Casablanca.

Dark Passage (1947) is a pretty good film but will be appreciated mostly by fans of Bogart and Bacall. The plot is up and down but the behemoth Hollywood stars are the main attraction.

Black Narcissus-1947

Black Narcissus-1947

Director Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Starring Deborah Kerr

Scott’s Review #688

Reviewed October 5, 2017

Grade: A

A British film made in 1947 that is way ahead of its time, Black Narcissus is a brilliant foray into the mysterious entity of nuns and the bitterness, both from humanity and from the elements, a group of nuns must face as they attempt to establish a new school atop the hills of the Himalayas.

The look of the film is as fantastic as the story itself, with incredible cinematography, and a foreboding eerie quality.

Black Narcissus is one of the great treasures of classic cinema.

Based on the 1939 novel by Rumer Godden, Black Narcissus tells the story of revolving jealousy, rage, lust, and tension, amid a convent of nuns living in isolation.

Deborah Kerr, wonderful in the lead role of Clodagh, Sister Superior, and leader of the group, faces the temptations and anger of men while dealing with an unbalanced nun, Sister Ruth, played terrifically by Kathleen Byron.

The cinematography and the art direction must be praised as the lavish sets are just that- sets. However, the average viewer will be whisked away on a magical experience where it seems the sets are real locales- high atop the Himalayan mountains.

Scenes contain howling wind, mist, and fog that is believable- all of the sets are built and structured and Black Narcissus was filmed entirely on a set. This tidbit is unbelievable given the realism, especially since the film was made in 1947.

The lighting in the film is unique, specifically the vibrant colors of the pink flowers, and later, the closeups of Sister Ruth. A fantastic example of this is her descent into madness during the final act as her face, maniacal, yet lovely, is heavily featured. Her face appears bright and hypnotic.

The main event, though, belongs to the tales that the film tells, which are quite edgy for the year the film was made. The subject matter of religion is always risky, and the treatment of the nuns as real human beings with true emotions, even lustful ones, is brazen.

Specifically, Clodagh (Kerr),  is an interesting study as the character teeters on a romance with the charismatic, handsome, local British agent, Mr. Dean (David Farrar) while attempting to forget a failed romance during her youth in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Sister Ruth spirals out of control leading to a dire climax involving an enormous church bell atop the restored structure.

A slight misstep the film makes is casting mostly white actors with heavy makeup in the Indian roles instead of actors with authentic ethnicity.

This detail is glaring because the makeup used is not overly convincing and especially guilty is the casting of the gorgeous Jean Simmons as Kanchi, a lower-class dancing girl, who the Prince becomes infatuated with in a subplot.

Still, this pales in comparison to the fantastic story and look of the film.

Black Narcissus is a classic film that contains a bit of everything- drama, thrills, intrigue, gorgeous sets, lavish design, even a bit of forbidden passion- and executes all aspects of the film in brilliant fashion.

A film admired by critics and directors through the ages, specifically championed by Martin Scorsese, the film has the unique quality of getting better and better with each viewing.

Oscar Nominations: 2 wins-Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Color (won), Best Cinematography, Color (won)