Noirvember 2016, Episode 12: Dead Reckoning (1947)

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Dead Reckoning (1947) John Cromwell
(1:40)
Columbia DVD – interlibrary loan

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Rip Murdock (Humphrey Bogart) stealthily slips and slides through city streets and in desperation, ducks into a church. Once there he corners a priest to tell him his story before the people he’s running away from can catch up to him. It seems that Murdock and his paratrooper buddy Johnny Drake (William Prince) have attracted a lot of attention on their return from WWII. When the train stops and the press want to photograph and interview Drake for his medal-earning bravery during the war, Drake runs away and hops another train headed in the other direction, leaving Murdock alone and confused. Later, Murdock learns that Drake was killed in an auto accident in Drake’s hometown of Gulf City. Suspecting that someone’s hiding something, Murdock goes Gulf City to investigate.

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High Sierra (1941) Raoul Walsh

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High Sierra (1941)
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by Hal B. Wallis and Mark Hellinger
Written by John Huston and W.R. Burnett, based on the Burnett novel
Cinematography by Tony Gaudio
Edited by Jack Killifer
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Warner Bros.
TCM Greatest Classic Gangsters – Humphrey Bogart DVD (1:40)

“You know, Mac, sometimes I feel like I don’t know what it’s all about anymore.”
– Roy Earle

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It may be true that The Petrified Forest (1936) helped launch Humphrey Bogart’s career, but High Sierra (1941) made him a star. Roy Earle is a much more complex character than Duke Mantee and Bogart’s acting chops had developed nicely in the five years between roles. While High Sierra lifted Bogart to the upper tier of leading men, the film also signaled the demise of the gangster picture, a genre that had seemingly endless staying power in the 1930s.

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The Petrified Forest (1936) Archie Mayo

Poster - Petrified Forest, The_13

The Petrified Forest (1936)
Directed by Archie Mayo
Produced by Hal B. Wallis
Written by Robert E. Sherwood (play), Charles Kenyon, Delmer Daves
Cinematography by Sol Polito
Edited by Owen Marks
Warner Brothers
TCM Greatest Classic: Gangsters – Humphrey Bogart DVD (1:22)

The Petrified Forest has achieved lasting fame as a precursor to film noir and for providing Humphrey Bogart with the career-launching role of gangster Duke Mantee. The film was based on a play of the same name by Robert E. Sherwood, which also starred Bogart and Leslie Howard. Howard plays Alan Squier, a drifter who wanders into a ramshackle diner in the Arizona desert town of Black Mesa, near the Petrified Forest. There he meets Gabrielle Maple (Bette Davis, just 28 at the time), daughter of the owner of the diner.

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