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Battle-weary World War II veteran Frank McCloud travels to a remote Florida Keys hotel to describe a comrade's final days to the fallen man's father and widow. But when he arrives there, he discovers the place taken over by gangsters trying to sneak their deported chief, Johnny Rocco, back into the country. As a hurricane bears down on the island, McCloud is torn between his desire to lay down his arms after defeating one dictator and the need to defend his late friend's family from another. CAST AND CREW

Director: John Huston
Producer: Jerry Wald
Screenplay: Richard Brooks, John Huston
Based on the play by Maxwell Anderson
Cinematography: Karl Freund
Editing: Rudi Fehr
Art Direction: Leo K. Kuter
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Frank McCloud), Edward G. Robinson (Johnny Rocco), Lauren Bacall (Nora Temple), Lionel Barrymore (James Temple), Claire Trevor (Gaye Dawn), Thomas Gomez (Richard 'Curly' Hoff), Marc Lawrence (Ziggy), Dan Seymour (Angel Garcia), Monte Blue (Sheriff Ben Wade), John Litel (Dispatcher), Jay Silverheels (Tom Osceola)
BW-100 m.

Why It's Essential Although overshadowed at the time by the critical success of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo has come to be regarded as one of director John Huston's most autobiographical films. Like Humphrey Bogart's character, Huston had participated in the Italian campaign during World War II, while Bogart's disenchantment since returning from the war mirrors what Huston had witnessed filming Let There Be Light (1946), his documentary about shell-shocked veterans under treatment at Edgewood State Hospital and Pilgrim State Hospital in New York.

Key Largo represents a major development in the history of the gangster film. It was one of the first films to depict the nature of organized crime in the post-World War II years, pitting old-fashioned gangsters who had risen to power in the days of prohibition and bootlegging against the new spirit of post-war optimism.

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall co-starred for the final time in the film. After meeting and falling in love on the set of To Have and Have Not (1944), the two had married after finishing The Big Sleep (1946), both of which established Bacall's image as the only woman more insolent than Bogart. With their final two films, Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo, she played more conventional leading ladies. After that, the two started a family. That and her willingness to join Bogie on location for his other films limited their ability to co-star. They were working on an adaptation of John P. Marquand's Melville Goodwin, U.S.A. when he started displaying symptoms of the cancer that would take his life. The film was finally made in 1957 as Top Secret Affair, starring Kirk Douglas and Susan Hayward.

Key Largo was the fifth and last film in which both Bogart and Edward G. Robinson appear. Their four previous films were made before Bogart became a star, so this marks the only opportunity to see them play against each other in relatively equal roles, a fascinating look at two generations of gangster stars. This is the only of their films together in which Bogart survives to the final fadeout.

By Frank Miller

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