High Sierra (1941) Bogie, Ida & Special Guest Star, Zero The Dog

High Sierra (1941) Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino poster art photo

When the best thing in a film is your own blooming terrier dog showing off and stealing all the top scenes right from under your nose. What was Humphrey Bogart to do with this camera hogging pooch Zero, well he had to up his game and show his four legged friend who the boss was! And work his ass off he did.

High Sierra (1941) Humphrey Bogart and Zero the Dog aka Pard

I’d been psyched to see High Sierra for sometime. Working my way through Bogies back catalogue, this crime drama in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada looked a real winner. Well not only did it have HB but also the delectable and enchanting Ida Lupino. It’s gonna be a sure fire hit, for sure, right?

I know this is much liked by many so please excuse my offhand remarks. I’m only being tongue in cheek and saying how I felt. Don’t get me wrong through, I did really enjoy the film.

Tagline – HUMPHREY BOGART in one of his most powerful portrayals


High Sierra (1941) Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino in the shadows

This is the story of the recently incarcerated Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart). This notorious thief is released from jail after an eight year stretch and put straight to work by his old gangster boss Big Mac (Donald MacBride). Sent to a California resort hotel in the mountains with one of those, “so perfect plans that, hey nothing can go wrong”, you know the ones? Big Mac wants the experienced Roy to take charge of the heist and keep an eye on two young rookies, Red (Arthur Kennedy) and Babe (Alan Curtis). These two feuding knuckleheads have in tow a young dancer called Marie (Ida Lupino).

High Sierra (1941) peeking round a curtain Ida Lupino sexy

Roy wanders around with prison swagger, he don’t have the time or patience for any nonsense, letting everyone know with a backhand here and there. The threat of exploding violence is bubbling everywhere Roy struts. Marie takes a shine to Roy and a shiner from Babe. Roy isn’t interested, he’s got his eye on some yokel young farm girl, a piece of totty with a clubfoot!  Marie tags along, she might get lucky.

High Sierra (1941) Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino pard zero dog car

What with staking out the joint and keeping their informant cool, calm and collective. Making sure the two rookies don’t bash each others heads in whilst he’s off gallivanting around the area on home visits, booty calls and cashing in favours. What with his dying boozing boss banging back the bourbons and this big job to organise, Roy has his work cut out……….

High Sierra (1941) Humphrey Bogart driving car fade out picture

A few observations!

  • It’s written by John Huston from a novel by W.R Burnett and directed by Raoul Walsh.
  • Clarence the angel is here playing Pa (Henry Travers), the slightly stupid but very kind jack-rabbit saving dad of Velma (Joan Leslie), the star gazing wanna be dancer who has taken our Roy’s eye.
High Sierra (1941) Clarence the angel Pa (Henry Travers)

Listen for a bell, he might get his wings

  • The lovely Ida Lupino is great but she just isn’t feisty enough for me. Marie wanders around after Roy, gets on a coach, gets off a coach and follows some more. I was expecting her to be a tough broad like her Lilli Marlowe character in Private Hell 36 and superwoman. I’m still to see her in Road House (1948) starring with Cornel Wilde and Richard Widmark.
  • Talking of Cornel Wilde he pops up in High Sierra. I saw the name at the end, I hadn’t recognized him. I had to go back and look, there he was as latino Louis Mendoza. Their inside man.

High Sierra (1941) bogie ida cornel wilde

  • I liked the cool way the beginning credits roll over the mountains.
  • The random over aged wigged white haired doctor looked like an extra from Big Trouble In Little China! What was all that about?
  • What was with the wandering eyed cringy stereotyped “comic relief” black guy called Algernon (Willie Best)!
  • I read that HB and Ida didn’t get on at all well and I have another film with them both starring together to see They Drive By Night (1940). Also directed by Raoul Walsh. Can’t wait to see that.
  • Ida is mentioned to be a taxi dancer in the film. I’d never heard of it. It involves dancers being paid on a dance by dance basis. Not lap dancing but regular dancing for company.
  • Zero the “omen” dog was brilliant as he latched onto his next friend. I guess after it was curtains for Zero that Bogie and Lauren Bacall would get their beloved Boxer dogs.

High Sierra (1941) Humphrey Bogart Lauren bacall boxer dog chilling

Don’t get me wrong Bogart was superb and read it was his real breakout role that showed his tough talents. I think I had over anticipated this one for too long and in my head thought it was a film noir. I didn’t care for the traveling family that much, it felt a distraction. Understand it was to show his past and his dilemma of whether he could become good, bad or just crashout. Would loved to have seen Ida tougher.

I did really enjoy it, a strong 7/10 but there was a lot I didn’t like.

This is where I get smashed, fire away in the comments, I won’t claw back! hehe

11 thoughts on “High Sierra (1941) Bogie, Ida & Special Guest Star, Zero The Dog

  1. I like the film and it’s place in Bogart history is very important as he transitioned from thug to leading man. Walsh remade it as a damn good western Colorado Territory and though the 55 version I Died a Thousand Times isn’t as good, it has a cast to die for led by Jack Palance. Great pick.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t disagree with anything you wrote here, though I like it a little more than you do, Mikey. I think it is a very good movie that falls short of being a great movie, which, to me, makes it overrated. I agree with your assessment of the Ida Lupino character. She was miscast here. Zero is the hero, no doubt. He definitely has the most charm…and I think that is what is lacking here…Bogart wasn’t charming enough or cool enough (Gasp!) to make us care. He missed the anti-hero bulls eye, just a bit, but still racked up a lot of points.

    Liked by 1 person

    • phew I thought I might get smashed here. Still a 7/10 is pretty decent. Yep it sure was Ida and I found out for sure last night. I watched Road House and she was just perfect. Itching to do a post on that one (might be fleas, hope not!). OH my her natural singing knocked me for six. Yeah Bogie was tough as nails and the first slapping he gave out had me going “oh here we go”. I do think that it was my own expectation of it being a film noir. PS if you haven’t seen Road House Pam, it’s on YT. Very entertaining. PLus a cracking brawl with Cornel. Thanks always for the great comments Pam 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I loved that HB had his own dog Zero in this movie, I don’t trust people that don’t love and appreciate
      man & woman’s best friend, HB having Zero with him in this movie
      says a lot about HB. And Zero was
      awesome in this film, just so adorable

      Liked by 1 person

      • I loved that both HB and LB would go on to have Boxer dogs after the wonderful Zero went up to doggy heaven. I know boxers are cool as we had one as part of the family. 🙂
        Thanks for letting me know about your dog love Laura.
        All the best


  3. I rated it 6/10. Went from a 7 to a 6 for me, because of Bogart character ‘s foolish decision at the 80 minute mark. Prior to that, he was smart, so it felt out of character. Someone who is wanted by the police would not call attention to themselves in that way, especially a character as experienced as him. Four years since I watched so might feel differently now! I agree it’s enjoyable

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t feel so bad now, thanks Chris hehe. TBH I wrote 6.5 down on my list when it finished then read it was a great transition place for him and thinking back I did enjoy it. It just felt it could of been so much more and so wanted a fiesty Ida. Which I got the next day in Road House. She was fantastic.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked this more than you did, also Lupino, who was a decent director as well as an actress. She didn’t direct any classics, but was more than average.
    Many thanks for following my blog, Mr Wolfman. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pete. Yeah I think I had the lucky position of seeing the lovely Lupino in a few films before where she was tough and no nonsense. Like in Private Hell 36, They Drive By Night and that chain smoking gravelly voiced singing Ida in Road House. She was so ace. I don’t know what it was, I felt it wasn’t her in High Sierra. It didn’t grab me like some of her other films, even with Bogie. Still I did like it but something was missing, for me.
      Funny as the biggest star is the DOG! Zero the dog comes up as one of the most searched phrases on my site. Haha go figure LOL more than Bogart himself!
      Thank you. All the best.. Mikey

      Liked by 1 person

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