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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.38%
Worth A Look76.92%
Average: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 7 user ratings

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High Sierra
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by Jay Seaver

"Probably the last time Bogie received second billing."
4 stars

Cynicism goes with the territory in film noir, and there's plenty of it from Bogart's anti-hero, Roy "Mad Dog" Earle. What's somewhat surprising - and what makes High Sierra so interesting, and probably was a big part of what catapulted Bogart to stardom after this movie - is that there's a certain wistfulness to it.

Earle is not a malicious man, though he will use violence against those that get in his way, and though it's never spelled out, an early scene where he visits his family's old far suggests that he sort of backed into a life of crime. His family likely lost the farm in the Depression, driving him into the city. When he meets a family of similarly dispossessed people on the road, he's compelled to help them, and takes a shine to the daughter, perhaps seeing it as a way to reconnect with the life he really wants.

Alas, it's not to be, but he does meet Marie Garson (Ida Lupino, who gets top billing; Bogart was not yet a star when this was made), a more pragmatic girl who is clearly more intelligent than Earle's partners, who picked her up in a dance hall. He also picks up a scruffy dog, "Pard", though the dog's previous master (Willie Best in an annoying Steppin Fetchit role) warns Earle that he's bad luck. This, of course, is before the heist and everything related to it goes wrong, leading to the chase and final sequence that gives the film its name.

Many films noir and their descendants are relentlessly dark, or cynical, but what makes High Sierra so much better than most of them is that there is the potential for redemption and decency underneath. It's the dashing of that hope that makes this movie a tragedy as opposed to just another crime story.

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originally posted: 06/20/04 11:05:03
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User Comments

1/18/09 brian Five stars if not for the awful racist stereotype. 4 stars
5/11/06 Agent Sands Great old-time heist movie. 4 stars
7/07/05 John MacKendrick Great first starring role for Bogart. Criminal with humanity. Touching finale. 5 stars
7/03/04 swamprat Yes, worth a look- especially if you're exploring all the Bogie films 4 stars
6/29/04 van buskirk magnificent beautiful love story 5 stars
6/07/04 R.W. Welch Dark gangster opus with strong perfs by Bogart and Lupino. 4 stars
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  24-Jan-1942 (NR)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2010



Directed by
  Raoul Walsh

Written by
  John Huston
  W.R. Burnett

  Humphrey Bogart
  Ida Lupino
  Alan Curtis
  Arthur Kennedy
  Joan Leslie
  Henry Hull

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