Was recommended this noir thriller starring husband and wife double act Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I for sure wasn’t expecting to be wowed by its unique take right from the get go. For this film’s first few acts are played out entirely in first person perspective. Meaning that our “hero” Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) face is never seen for a big portion of the film. Filmed in a point of view (POV) style or his face being covered up. A very brave decision for the studio to have made I can imagine, not having your big star, leading man’s face on the screen.
After a not intentional hilarious opening scene with Vincent’s fingers clinging on inside an oil drum precariously balanced on the back of an open-ended trunk. After a few hair-raising turns and one big wobble, the barrel takes a leap, rolling down a ditch. Luckily a bruised Vincent is ok and starts to narrate what on his mind. This is where we find he’s an escaped convict desperately trying to evade capture.
Convicted and imprisoned for killing his wife, Vincent maintains his innocence. Escaping prison and determined to find the real killer he vows to clear his name but is he really innocent? On a chance bit of good luck he’s picked up by a beautiful sympathetic artist called Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall) who hides him out at her place. She believes Vincent’s story as her own father had been falsely convicted under similar circumstances and has a vested interest in miscarriages of justice.
One big problem for Vincent is the fact he has a very recognisable face, so he might need to get that sorted somehow? In walks a scene stealing, wonderful performance from Dr. Walter Coley (Houseley Stevenson). So can he trust anyone around him? Like his jazz musician friend George (Rory Mallinson) or friends of Irene’s, Bob (Bruce Bennett) and Madge (Agnes Moorehead) who keep popping around her apartment? Is he going to be able to prove his innocence or evade capture before he’s sent back to prison?
The POV style is cleverly achieved, showing Vincent fly off a few punches on to an unexpected passerby who picks him up and having the following scenes unfold with the view from his eye level. Then when it switches to him in bandages, Humphrey gets to use all his expressive eye skills. It’s an exceptional original story for the time and a very recommended watch. It would achieve top marks from me if it wasn’t for a few over the top coincidences that are just a little on the far-fetched side but to be honest the film is so much fun it doesn’t really matter.
I’m in seventh heaven working my way through all the relentless amazing amount of noir films that I’m playing catch up on. Let me know what you thought of the film if you wish or if you are gonna run off and watch it, you can pop on back if you want to.
Thanks for visiting the wolf den… Mikey Wolf