High Sierra

 


He killed... and there on the crest of Sierra's highest crag... he must be killed!

 

Jurassic Mark

SCORE: 2 Stars

1941's High Sierra made Humphrey Bogart a star. Paul Muni (the original Scarface) was slated for the role, but Bogart won out. It was Bogart's first starring role, and Ida Lupino (one of Bogart's love interests) got top billing. Oh well, how many people under the age of sixty have ever heard of Paul Muni or Ida Lupino?

Bogart portrays ex-con Roy "Mad Dog" Earle. For a guy nicknamed "Mad Dog," Roy is pretty much a softy. Sure, he can get tough. Mad Dog bitch-slaps the first guy he runs into outside the pen just to demonstrate he's no a pushover. Later he pistol-whips a woman-beater (not quite as graphically as Ray Liotta in Goodfellas). Still, Bogie is mainly interested in chicks. And, who can blame him. He's been locked up a long time.

First, Mad Dog grows fond of a young crippled girl with a pretty face. He befriends her family and learns that they are dirt poor. Dog has a little extra dough, so he hires a good doctor to fix her club-foot. After that, she turns into a snooty bitch. She doesn't love Mad Dog, ironically, because she thinks he's sweet. She has her eye on a playboy, drunk, asshole she used to date back home. Dog is denied the muffin. But, there's better muffin out there for a guy like Dog.

Enter Ida Lupino. She's older, but sexier and more Dog's type. She's mixed up with some gangsters. But none of them have Dog's style. So, he gets the muffin. Except, back in those days they didn't show it.

High Sierra features the following:

1. A Really Bad Haircut. Mad Dog's head is mercilessly shaved on the sides compared to the top. You'd think the filmmakers were worried about lice.

2. Two love interests, aforementioned, and need not be re-mentioned.

3. A cool dog (this time the actual canine type) who manages to upstage most of the actors.

4. A nigger. The film is racist, not me. Dog befriends a black servant who's eyes bulge out of his head at the whim of the director.

5. An amusing, anti-climactic heist.

5. A mountain car chase. The cars are driving (I swear to god) 300 miles per hour. It's a hilarious chase accomplished with sped up film.

High Sierra isn't an action packed gangster movie. But it's a solid marriage between noir and early 1940's morality tale. Therefore, not as dark as a lot of noir, but unique.