You know, I think I am beginning to get a movie crush on Bogart. And this movie only fuels that. Bogart plays a private detective hired by a man who thinks he is being blackmailed. All because of his floozy of a daughter (Martha Vickers). There's another daughter too (Bacall), and if you can figure her out before the movie has only 20 minutes left, than you're good. That is by way of saying that she is as complicated and twisted as this story (that is a compliment). His first night on the job he follows the suspected blackmailerer to his home. Suddenly a gun goes off - and this is how the whole thing gets started. Just when you think you've got it figured out and everything is done, something else happens. Most of the time, you're just trying to figure it out. It's not easy. A great detective story. I love Bogart's character in this one. He's got a little bit of a comic in him, and he's something of a lady's man. At least, all the women in the film seem to find him engrossing - well duh - it is Bogie we're talking about.
Acting wise, it's pretty good. Bacall is one of the best at playing the mysterious woman. She doesn't give much away to the audience, but Bogie's character reads her like a book, which is a great way of saying something about both characters to the audiences. You know, this movie has just reaffirmed something about Bogart for me. Yes, he gets cast in the same type of roles over and over again (that's the studio system for you) - but I have begun to notice that his characters always seem to have a little something different. Bogart is not playing the same person - same type maybe, but not the same person. His performances are somewhat studied. Look at him in Petrified Forest, specifically how he carried himself. Arms bowed out, I mean. And look at him in this film; his character is always tugging on his ears when he is thinking, and he is always holding on to his belt - resting his hands there. Granted those are only two example, but consider. These are marked character traits that the actor will use to make their character's distinct. It's a mark of an actor. And another thing (You're going to think I am ridiculous for noticing this, but) he never kisses the same way. Aside from the top two - the rest of the cast is believable, but nothing too special - although I will say that Vickers is quite interesting. Her character is pretty distinct too - and she plays the part well. (It's always a good sign that the acting is good if you are disgusted by or you hate a character) I can honest;y say that she is someone I would like to have seen more acting from - but looking at her work, I haven't hardly seen or heard of much of her work. It's a shame - she had talent - or she was type cast, in which case it would be easy to understand why she didn't go further.
The Story... well the story is. It's a little convuluded and you jump so much that it just kinda leaves you confused. However, it keeps you raptured. Some of the dialouge is quite suggestive -although it is only a 1940s suggestive (no dirty here folks!) There are a couple of back and forth exchanges between Bacall and Bogie that are really interesting to listen to; so back and forth, witty, and the words snap. That's the best kind of writing. As much as I love meaningful speeches, a good quip and comeback conversation is pricless!
This is a good one!
4 out of 5 stars