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John Huston
Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor
Writing Credits:
Richard Brooks and John Huston

A man visits his old friend's hotel and finds a gangster running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French Monaural
German Monaural;
Castillian Spanish Monaural
Polish Monaural
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 2/23/2016

• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Key Largo [Blu-Ray] (1948)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 9, 2016)

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall starred together in just four films, and those covered a mere four years. They started with 1944’s To Have and Have Not and finished with 1948’s Key Largo - in between, they made 1946’s The Big Sleep and 1947’s Dark Passage.

That’s a pretty good run, and Key Largo caps it well. World War II veteran Frank McCloud (Bogart) travels to the Florida Keys to visit the family of George Temple, a friend and fellow soldier who died during the conflict. George’s widow Nora Temple (Bacall) and his disabled father James (Lionel Barrymore) run a hotel there, and they give Frank a warm reception.

Unbeknownst to Frank, gangsters led by Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) have taken over the hotel. They planned to leave but they stick around to wait out a hurricane. This leads to a tense situation in which McCloud and the Temples need to deal with the threat from these criminals.

Though I highlighted the Bogart/Bacall pairing, I could’ve focused on other high-powered connections instead. Largo acted as the fourth of six times that Bogart starred in a project directed by John Huston, and it also delivered the fifth – and final – time that Bogart would work with Robinson.

That’s a whole lot of classic Hollywood talent involved with Largo, and they bring out the best in the project. Based on a stage play, the film occasionally feels a bit “set-bound”, as it rarely leaves a restricted array of locations, and one can feel the impact of its origins.

That said, Huston still manages to make Largo “feel like a movie” and not just a filmed play. That comes mainly via stylistic choices and interplay. Huston gives the material a dynamic that allows it to transcend the potentially stifling nature of the source.

That excellent cast helps as well. Indeed, the actors do more to create electricity than anything else, with an emphasis on Bogart and Robinson. Bogart gets an unusually complicated lead, as Frank shows ambivalence when it comes to his place. Rather than act as a simplistic “hero”, he demonstrates a mix of attitudes that allow him to appear more complex – and interesting – than otherwise might be the case.

Fewer dramatic shadings come with Robinson’s turn as Rocco, but I don’t mind, as he digs into the character with gusto. If Rocco feels a lot like Little Caesar’s Rico, I doubt that’s a coincidence. Rico dies at the end of the earlier movie, so Rocco leaves us to envision what “Little Caesar” would’ve been like if he’d lived. Robinson chews scenery but does so in a delightful way that conveys the character’s darkness and menace.

Of the females, Claire Trevor gets good moments as the drunken former nightclub entertainer who latches onto Rocco. Trevor won an Oscar for her performance – I’m not sure that’s totally justified, as she seems a little too broad for me, but she does manage to add some depth to a potentially thin part.

Bacall probably gets the shortest straw here, as she doesn’t receive much room to shine. Nora offers a fairly thankless role who exists more as a concept than as a person. Bacall doesn’t do much here, but I can’t blame her for the script’s shortcomings.

My complaints about Largo remain minor anyway, as the movie works too well for its occasional flaws to harm it. Mostly taut and dramatic, the film sparkles much of the time.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio C/ Bonus D-

Key Largo appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect a strong transfer.

Sharpness looked solid. Next to no softness materialized, as the image remained crisp and well-defined. No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes.

With a nice layer of grain, I suspected no intrusive digital noise reduction, and print flaws failed to mar the presentation. Blacks seemed dark and rich, while contrast appeared appealing. Shadows came across as smooth and concise. Warner Bros. usually does right by these older movies, and Largo offered another fine image.

Though adequate for its age, I felt less pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack. Speech was the weak link, as lines tended to be brittle and reedy. The lines seemed intelligible but they were less natural than I’d expect.

The rest of the track seemed better but not great. Music was fairly full, and effects appeared reasonably lively. These elements could also showed some roughness, though – they improved on the dialogue but lacked great clarity. All in all, this was an average mix for its age.

The disc includes the movie’s trailer but no other extras.

A collaboration of many Hollywood legends, Key Largo offers a tight, tense tale. Though it occasionally betrays its roots as a stage play a little too strongly, it still manages to bring us a strong drama. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals but audio seems average and the disc lacks supplements. I’m disappointed by the lack of bonus features but the movie itself fares well.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
0 3:
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