Warner Archive does what it does best regarding the Blu-ray release of the 1947 noir film "Dark Passage" starring the Humphrey Bogarts. This film is among the cult classics from the Golden and Silver Ages of Hollywood that comprise a significant portion of the Archive catalog. We further get the good remastering for which Archive is known, The final piece is the bonus features that Archive typically provides and that always are excellent when they do.
"Passage" writer/director Delmar Daves of "such films" as "Destination Tokyo" and "A Summer Place" does well by Bogart and Bacall by providing them a good story and literally expert direction. The latter commences with most of the first roughly 30-minutes of the film being POV shots from the perspective of Bogart character Vincent Parry. A particularly memorable example of this is an early shot in which Parry is rolling down a hill in a barrel.
"Passage" opens minutes after Parry makes a prison break that is a not-so-great escape from San Quentin. Exposition in the form of a news bulletin heard on the car radio of good Samaritan Baker (former Little Rascal Clifton Young) tells the audience that Parry until recently being a guest of the state is because of a conviction for killing his wife.
Baker and Parry soon parting ways leads to a fateful encounter between Parry and sympathetic heiress Irene Jansen (Bacall). An essentially "come with me if you want to live" moment leads to the pair enduring challenging gauntlets before Parry obtains asylum in the luxurious San Francisco apartment of Jansen.
The intrusion of acerbic, cruel, and ruthless Madge (Agnes Moorehead of "Bewitched" playing to type) and unlucky-in-love Bob (character actor Bruce Bennett) further stir the potboiler. Madge coincidentally is the one whom Parry threw away, and Bob is the ex of Madge and currentish of Irene. On a basic level, the pair separately and collectively calling on Jansen while Parry is her house guest complicates things far beyond being potential witnesses to his presence.
The next noirish bit that comes out is that Jansen is a long=term member of Team Parry. We learn that she feels that the conviction of her father for a crime that is completely unrelated to the murder of the late Mrs. Parry is the source of Jansen attending the trial of Parry and a significant factor regarding her conclusion that his conviction is wrongful. Her being near San Quentin at the time of the break, learning of that unauthorized early parole, and making the deduction that leads to her finding the fugitive all are the type of coincidences that make noir entertaining.
The perspective changes when another chance encounter leads to Parry undergoing mob-style plastic surgery that the (reviewed) biodrama "Young Dillinger" indicates is a real thing. Not previously showing the face of Parry in "Passage" solves the problem of Bogart not looking like himself in the period before the procedure that results in his having the face that only a cinephile (and Bacall) can love.
A subsequent encounter with a former acquaintance ultimately changes everything for Parry and leads to a dramatic confrontation that also has both good and bad results for this wanted man. The manner in which Daves stages this shows why he earns the big bucks.
The final five minutes or so of "Passage" particularly aptly highlight the exceptional chemistry that shows why Bogie and Bacall warrant having it all.
The highlight of the aforementioned special features is mini-documentary "Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers." This short discusses "Passage" in general with an emphasis on the location shooting; as aspect of this is stating how the beginning of the end of the studio system affects taking film crews and casts on field trips. We also hear a little about the career of Bacall and her relationship with Bogart. The highlights include having the late great Robert Osborne and film critic extraordinaire Leonard Maltin being the primary talking heads.
An even more entertaining bonus is the 1947 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Slick Hare." This one parodies both the real-life Mocambo nightclub in Los Angeles and the equally actual celebrity patrons of that establishment. A cartoon Bogart fully employing his tough-guy persona to get waiter Elmer Fudd to improvise when the club runs out of rabbit, The typical mayhem ensues and ends with Bugs expressing love that hold true in 2018.
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