Dark Passage (1947)

Seventy-three years ago today, the film Dark Passage premiered. One of the Bogie and Bacall movies that created the legend. Add in Agnes Moorehead and it is a no-brainer for me to love it. Also, there are some San Francisco locations that I fell in love with separately. Seeing the Aquatic Park Bathhouse in person is a Streamline Moderne dream. You need to see this movie.

Title: Dark Passage
Directed by: Delmer Daves
Produced by: Jerry Wald
Screenplay by: Delmer Daves
Based on: Dark Passage by David Goodis
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bruce Bennett, Agnes Moorehead, Tom D’Andrea
Music by: Franz Waxman
Cinematography: Sidney Hickox
Edited by: David Weisbart
Production Company: Warner Bros.
Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Release date: September 5, 1947 (New York City), September 27, 1947 (United States)
Running time: 106 minutes
Budget: $1.6 million
Box office: $3.4 million

Vincent Parry, convicted of killing his wife, escapes from San Quentin Prison and evades police by hitching a ride with a motorist named Baker. A radio news report about an escaped convict and Parry’s odd clothes make Baker suspicious, so when questioned, Parry beats him unconscious. Irene Jansen picks him up and smuggles him past a police roadblock into San Francisco, offering him shelter in her apartment.

Madge, Jansen’s acquaintance, comes by Irene’s apartment, but Parry (through a closed door) tells her to leave. A former romantic interest whom Parry had spurned, Madge testified at his trial out of spite, providing a motive as to why he would have killed his wife. Irene explains that she had followed Parry’s case with interest and that she believes Parry is innocent. Her own father had been falsely convicted of murder, and since then she has taken an interest in miscarriages of justice.

Parry leaves but is recognized by a cab driver, who turns out to be sympathetic and gives Parry the name of a plastic surgeon who can change his appearance. Parry arranges to stay with a friend, George Fellsinger, during the recuperation from the surgery and asks George for help in proving his innocence.

Following the operation, Parry is unable to speak with his face wrapped in bandages. He returns to George’s apartment and finding him murdered, returns to Irene’s apartment where he collapses at her doorstep. Irene nurses him back to health.

Madge and her ex-fiancé Bob, who is romantically interested in Irene, come by. Madge asks to stay with Irene for protection, worried that Parry will kill her for testifying against him. Irene gets rid of Madge and deflects Bob by saying that she has already met someone to whom she is attracted, “Vincent Parry”.

She feigns that she is lying, but actually she is telling the truth, as Parry hides in a bedroom. Bob takes Irene’s statement as a joke, but accepts that Irene is interested in another man. Parry recuperates and learns that he is wanted for George’s murder, his fingerprints having been found on the murder weapon, George’s trumpet. After his bandages are removed, Parry reluctantly parts from Irene, declaring that she will be better off if she is not part of his life.

Parry decides to flee the city before trying to discover who really killed his wife. At a diner, an undercover policeman becomes suspicious because of Parry’s behavior. The policeman asks for identification, but Parry claims to have left it at his hotel. On the street, Parry darts in front of a moving car to escape. At the hotel, Parry is surprised by Baker, who holds him at gunpoint. Baker has been following Parry since they first met. He now demands that Irene pay him $60,000 or he will turn Parry over to the law. Parry agrees, and Baker obliges him to drive the two of them to Irene’s apartment. Claiming to take a shortcut, Parry drives to a secluded spot underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, where he succeeds in disarming Baker and questions him, becoming convinced that Madge is behind the deaths of his wife and friend. The two men fight, and Baker falls to his death.

Parry goes to Madge’s apartment. Knowing she does not recognize him with his new face, he pretends to be a friend of Bob’s and feigns interest in courting her. Parry eventually reveals his true identity and accuses Madge of having killed both his wife and George. He shows her that he has all the evidence written down, and attempts to coerce her into making a confession. She points out that without her signature the accusations will then be worthless. While turning away from him, she accidentally falls through a window to her death.

Knowing he cannot prove his innocence, and that he will likely be accused of Madge’s murder as well, Parry has no choice but to flee. He intends to go to Mexico and then to South America. He phones Irene, revealing his plans; she says she will meet him there. The next time we see him, Parry is relaxing with a drink in a beach bar in Peru, when he sees Irene across the dance floor. They embrace.

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