High Sierra


1h 40m 1941
High Sierra

Brief Synopsis

An aging ex-con sets out to pull one more big heist.

Photos & Videos

High Sierra - Behind-the-Scenes Photo
High Sierra - Publicity Stills
High Sierra - Movie Poster

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 25, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Jan 1941
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Big Bear Lake, California, USA; Lake Arrowhead, California, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel High Sierra by W. R. Burnett (New York, 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Synopsis

Gangster Big Mac buys a pardon from the Indiana governor for aging, imprisoned bank robber Roy "Mad Dog" Earle, who is serving a life term, because he wants Earle to head up a big hotel job in California. Before he leaves town, Roy stops for a nostalgic visit to the old Earle farm but leaves quickly when a passerby recognizes him. Roy heads for the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where he connects with inexperienced thugs Red and Babe. Roy foresees trouble in the presence of Marie Garson, Babe's girl friend, but allows her to stay when she tells him that Louis Mendoza, the inside man on the job, has a habit of talking in front of the wrong people. After warning Mendoza to keep quiet, Roy drives to Los Angeles to meet with Big Mac. On the road, he encounters the Goodhues, Ma and Pa and their granddaughter Velma, after they are involved in an automobile accident. From Pa, Roy learns that Velma has a clubfoot which could be repaired by expensive surgery. Roy is charmed by the Goodhues, particularly Velma, and gives them a little money before he leaves. In Los Angeles, Roy learns that Big Mac is very ill and badly needs the money he will get from this robbery. Mac reminisces about the good old days when criminals were professional like Roy, not young and crazy like Red and Babe. The gang's defrocked doctor, "Doc" Banton, evaluates Velma's foot, at Roy's request, and Roy agrees to pay for the corrective operation, despite Pa's warning that Velma has a boyfriend back home. When Roy returns to the mountains, Marie tells him that Babe and Red had a fight over her and begs Roy to let her stay with him. Roy wants to send her back to Los Angeles until she tells him that for her, leaving the city was the same as leaving prison was for him. Warning her that she will never mean anything special to him, Roy agrees to let her stay. As they are leaving camp the night of the robbery, Pard, a little dog with a reputation for causing bad luck, jumps in the car. Everything goes wrong at the hotel, and Roy is forced to shoot a watchman. Red and Babe die in a crash during the getaway, but Mendoza survives and talks to the police. Roy and Marie make it to Los Angeles with the jewels, only to learn that Big Mac is dead and ex-cop Jake Kranmer is now in charge. When Kranmer tries to force Roy to leave the jewels with him, Roy kills him. On the way to fence the jewels, Roy stops as promised to see Velma walk and finds her dancing with Lon Preiser, her boyfriend from back East. Roy, who had hoped to marry Velma himself, takes a dislike to Lon and tells him off, evoking a cruel response from Velma. The fence also disappoints Roy, telling him that he cannot pay him immediately. Roy and Marie go into hiding, but Roy's cover is destroyed when his picture is published in the newspaper. Deciding that he would be safer on his own, Roy puts Marie and Pard on a bus to Las Vegas and heads for Los Angeles, but changes direction when he encounters police roadblocks. The police chase Roy into the mountains until he is forced to leave his car and continue on foot. Marie hears the news on the radio and returns to be by Roy's side. The police order Marie to lure the surrounded Roy out of hiding, but she refuses, knowing that he would rather die than return to prison. When he hears Pard barking, however, Roy runs out calling Marie's name and is killed by the police. Marie is comforted by the thought that now Roy is free.

Photo Collections

High Sierra - Behind-the-Scenes Photo
Here is a still taken behind-the-scenes during production of Warner Bros' High Sierra (1941), starring Humphrey Bogart and directed by Raoul Walsh.
High Sierra - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from High Sierra (1941). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
High Sierra - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for High Sierra (1941). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Crime
Adaptation
Film Noir
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jan 25, 1941
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Jan 1941
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Big Bear Lake, California, USA; Lake Arrowhead, California, USA
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel High Sierra by W. R. Burnett (New York, 1940).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 40m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Articles

High Sierra


Widely acknowledged as one of the gangster pictures that paved the way for the style and moral complexities of film noir, High Sierra (1941) is the story of Roy "Mad Dog" Earle, a crook sprung from prison to perform a crucial heist. Saddled with inexperienced accomplices (played by character actors Alan Curtis and Arthur Kennedy, a Tony Award winner for his role in the original Death of a Salesman) and a dime-a-dance girl who falls for him (Ida Lupino, who would later become a noted director), Earle awaits instructions at a mountain cabin, planning to go straight after this last robbery. He befriends the family of a lame girl (Joan Leslie) and pays for her operation, orbiting the "pure" life he desires. Starring as the surly tough guy with a decent heart was the breakthrough vehicle for Humphrey Bogart who took the role after George Raft, unwilling to "die at the end", refused it. (It was also reported that Paul Muni was offered the role prior to Raft but was fired by Warner Brothers after he turned it down).

Earle was modeled on John Dillinger, but the Hollywood Production Code strictly prohibited glamorizing the thirties gangster legend. John Huston's script, based on W.R. Burnett's novel, was returned to Warners by the censors with over forty objectionable references. They were largely ignored by Jack Warner, who wanted to protect the "spirit" of the story. However, the Code was firm on the ending. Gangsters, no matter how sympathetic they might appear at times, had to pay for moral transgressions on the screen. In other words, death or life in prison was their only option.

Executive Produced by Hal Wallis (Little Caesar, 1930), High Sierra was line produced by former 'crime beat' newsman Mark Hellinger (They Drive by Night, 1940), who was so entrenched in the gangster mode that he drove a car formerly belonging to mobster Dutch Schultz. High Sierra was elevated from the standard desperado B-movies by the stellar talent behind it. Directed by Warner Brothers veteran Raoul Walsh, (White Heat, 1949) and featuring Ida Lupino ­ who received billing above Bogart's ­ as Marie Garson, the locations were filmed in California's San Bernardino Mountains. Walsh noted that the climactic mountain chase sequence was the "longest he ever directed". Cinematographer Tony Gaudio, a 1936 Academy Award® winner for Anthony Adverse (1936), telegraphed Earle's isolation and state of mind in one scene with a breathtaking 360 degree panning shot. In small roles, watch for Henry Travers (It's a Wonderful Life, 1946) as "Pa", and Cornel Wilde (A Song to Remember, 1945) in an early-career appearance as mobster Louis Mendoza.

John Huston would later remark on Bogart's unique appeal in the role of Roy Earle: "Bogie was a medium sized man, not particularly impressive off-screen, but something happened when he was playing the right part. Those lights and shadows composed themselves into another, nobler personality: heroic, as in High Sierra. I swear the camera has a way of looking into a person and perceiving things that the naked eye doesn't register."

High Sierra was remade in 1949 as Colorado Territory and in 1955 as I Died a Thousand Times with Jack Palance, Shelley Winters and Dennis Hopper. The original film established a precedent that led to such contemporary outlaw movies as Bonnie & Clyde (1967).

Director: Raoul Walsh
Producer: Hal B. Wallis, Jack L Warner, Mark Hellinger
Screenplay: W.R. Burnett (novel), John Huston, W.R. Burnett
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio
Music: Adolph Deutsch
Art Direction: Ted Smith
Principle Cast: Ida Lupino (Marie Garson), Humphrey Bogart (Roy 'Mad Dog' Earle, Alan Curtis (Babe Kozak), Arthur Kennedy (Red Hattery), Joan Leslie (Velma), Henry Hull (Doc Banton)
BW-100m. Closed captioning.

by Jessica Handler

High Sierra

High Sierra

Widely acknowledged as one of the gangster pictures that paved the way for the style and moral complexities of film noir, High Sierra (1941) is the story of Roy "Mad Dog" Earle, a crook sprung from prison to perform a crucial heist. Saddled with inexperienced accomplices (played by character actors Alan Curtis and Arthur Kennedy, a Tony Award winner for his role in the original Death of a Salesman) and a dime-a-dance girl who falls for him (Ida Lupino, who would later become a noted director), Earle awaits instructions at a mountain cabin, planning to go straight after this last robbery. He befriends the family of a lame girl (Joan Leslie) and pays for her operation, orbiting the "pure" life he desires. Starring as the surly tough guy with a decent heart was the breakthrough vehicle for Humphrey Bogart who took the role after George Raft, unwilling to "die at the end", refused it. (It was also reported that Paul Muni was offered the role prior to Raft but was fired by Warner Brothers after he turned it down). Earle was modeled on John Dillinger, but the Hollywood Production Code strictly prohibited glamorizing the thirties gangster legend. John Huston's script, based on W.R. Burnett's novel, was returned to Warners by the censors with over forty objectionable references. They were largely ignored by Jack Warner, who wanted to protect the "spirit" of the story. However, the Code was firm on the ending. Gangsters, no matter how sympathetic they might appear at times, had to pay for moral transgressions on the screen. In other words, death or life in prison was their only option. Executive Produced by Hal Wallis (Little Caesar, 1930), High Sierra was line produced by former 'crime beat' newsman Mark Hellinger (They Drive by Night, 1940), who was so entrenched in the gangster mode that he drove a car formerly belonging to mobster Dutch Schultz. High Sierra was elevated from the standard desperado B-movies by the stellar talent behind it. Directed by Warner Brothers veteran Raoul Walsh, (White Heat, 1949) and featuring Ida Lupino ­ who received billing above Bogart's ­ as Marie Garson, the locations were filmed in California's San Bernardino Mountains. Walsh noted that the climactic mountain chase sequence was the "longest he ever directed". Cinematographer Tony Gaudio, a 1936 Academy Award® winner for Anthony Adverse (1936), telegraphed Earle's isolation and state of mind in one scene with a breathtaking 360 degree panning shot. In small roles, watch for Henry Travers (It's a Wonderful Life, 1946) as "Pa", and Cornel Wilde (A Song to Remember, 1945) in an early-career appearance as mobster Louis Mendoza. John Huston would later remark on Bogart's unique appeal in the role of Roy Earle: "Bogie was a medium sized man, not particularly impressive off-screen, but something happened when he was playing the right part. Those lights and shadows composed themselves into another, nobler personality: heroic, as in High Sierra. I swear the camera has a way of looking into a person and perceiving things that the naked eye doesn't register." High Sierra was remade in 1949 as Colorado Territory and in 1955 as I Died a Thousand Times with Jack Palance, Shelley Winters and Dennis Hopper. The original film established a precedent that led to such contemporary outlaw movies as Bonnie & Clyde (1967). Director: Raoul Walsh Producer: Hal B. Wallis, Jack L Warner, Mark Hellinger Screenplay: W.R. Burnett (novel), John Huston, W.R. Burnett Cinematography: Tony Gaudio Music: Adolph Deutsch Art Direction: Ted Smith Principle Cast: Ida Lupino (Marie Garson), Humphrey Bogart (Roy 'Mad Dog' Earle, Alan Curtis (Babe Kozak), Arthur Kennedy (Red Hattery), Joan Leslie (Velma), Henry Hull (Doc Banton) BW-100m. Closed captioning. by Jessica Handler

High Sierra on DVD


Widely acknowledged as one of the gangster pictures that paved the way for the style and moral complexities of film noir, High Sierra (1941) is the story of Roy "Mad Dog" Earle, a crook sprung from prison to perform a crucial heist. Saddled with inexperienced accomplices (played by character actors Alan Curtis and Arthur Kennedy, a Tony Award winner for his role in the original Death of a Salesman) and a dime-a-dance girl who falls for him (Ida Lupino, who would later become a noted director), Earle awaits instructions at a mountain cabin, planning to go straight after this last robbery. He befriends the family of a lame girl (Joan Leslie) and pays for her operation, orbiting the "pure" life he desires. Starring as the surly tough guy with a decent heart was the breakthrough vehicle for Humphrey Bogart who took the role after George Raft, unwilling to "die at the end", refused it. (It was also reported that Paul Muni was offered the role prior to Raft but was fired by Warner Brothers after he turned it down).

Earle was modeled on John Dillinger, but the Hollywood Production Code strictly prohibited glamorizing the thirties gangster legend. John Huston's script, based on W.R. Burnett's novel, was returned to Warners by the censors with over forty objectionable references. They were largely ignored by Jack Warner, who wanted to protect the "spirit" of the story. However, the Code was firm on the ending. Gangsters, no matter how sympathetic they might appear at times, had to pay for moral transgressions on the screen. In other words, death or life in prison was their only option.

Executive Produced by Hal Wallis (Little Caesar, 1930), High Sierra - now on DVD from Warner Video - was line produced by former 'crime beat' newsman Mark Hellinger (They Drive by Night, 1940), who was so entrenched in the gangster mode that he drove a car formerly belonging to mobster Dutch Schultz. High Sierra was elevated from the standard desperado B-movies by the stellar talent behind it. Directed by Warner Brothers veteran Raoul Walsh, (White Heat, 1949) and featuring Ida Lupino ­ who received billing above Bogart's ­ as Marie Garson, the locations were filmed in California's San Bernardino Mountains. Walsh noted that the climactic mountain chase sequence was the "longest he ever directed". Cinematographer Tony Gaudio, a 1936 Academy Award® winner for Anthony Adverse (1936), telegraphed Earle's isolation and state of mind in one scene with a breathtaking 360 degree panning shot. In small roles, watch for Henry Travers (It's a Wonderful Life, 1946) as "Pa", and Cornel Wilde (A Song to Remember, 1945) in an early-career appearance as mobster Louis Mendoza.

John Huston would later remark on Bogart's unique appeal in the role of Roy Earle: "Bogie was a medium sized man, not particularly impressive off-screen, but something happened when he was playing the right part. Those lights and shadows composed themselves into another, nobler personality: heroic, as in High Sierra. I swear the camera has a way of looking into a person and perceiving things that the naked eye doesn't register."

High Sierra was remade in 1949 as Colorado Territory and in 1955 as I Died a Thousand Times with Jack Palance, Shelley Winters and Dennis Hopper. The original film established a precedent that led to such contemporary outlaw movies as Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

As one would expect, Warner Video has released a lovingly restored DVD presentation of this key Bogart title. The Criterion Collection couldn't have done it better except in the extras department. This disc only serves up the theatrical trailer and a brief featurette on the making of the film: "Curtains for Roy Earle."

For more information about High Sierra, visit Warner Video. To order High Sierra, go to TCM Shopping.



by Jessica Handler

High Sierra on DVD

Widely acknowledged as one of the gangster pictures that paved the way for the style and moral complexities of film noir, High Sierra (1941) is the story of Roy "Mad Dog" Earle, a crook sprung from prison to perform a crucial heist. Saddled with inexperienced accomplices (played by character actors Alan Curtis and Arthur Kennedy, a Tony Award winner for his role in the original Death of a Salesman) and a dime-a-dance girl who falls for him (Ida Lupino, who would later become a noted director), Earle awaits instructions at a mountain cabin, planning to go straight after this last robbery. He befriends the family of a lame girl (Joan Leslie) and pays for her operation, orbiting the "pure" life he desires. Starring as the surly tough guy with a decent heart was the breakthrough vehicle for Humphrey Bogart who took the role after George Raft, unwilling to "die at the end", refused it. (It was also reported that Paul Muni was offered the role prior to Raft but was fired by Warner Brothers after he turned it down). Earle was modeled on John Dillinger, but the Hollywood Production Code strictly prohibited glamorizing the thirties gangster legend. John Huston's script, based on W.R. Burnett's novel, was returned to Warners by the censors with over forty objectionable references. They were largely ignored by Jack Warner, who wanted to protect the "spirit" of the story. However, the Code was firm on the ending. Gangsters, no matter how sympathetic they might appear at times, had to pay for moral transgressions on the screen. In other words, death or life in prison was their only option. Executive Produced by Hal Wallis (Little Caesar, 1930), High Sierra - now on DVD from Warner Video - was line produced by former 'crime beat' newsman Mark Hellinger (They Drive by Night, 1940), who was so entrenched in the gangster mode that he drove a car formerly belonging to mobster Dutch Schultz. High Sierra was elevated from the standard desperado B-movies by the stellar talent behind it. Directed by Warner Brothers veteran Raoul Walsh, (White Heat, 1949) and featuring Ida Lupino ­ who received billing above Bogart's ­ as Marie Garson, the locations were filmed in California's San Bernardino Mountains. Walsh noted that the climactic mountain chase sequence was the "longest he ever directed". Cinematographer Tony Gaudio, a 1936 Academy Award® winner for Anthony Adverse (1936), telegraphed Earle's isolation and state of mind in one scene with a breathtaking 360 degree panning shot. In small roles, watch for Henry Travers (It's a Wonderful Life, 1946) as "Pa", and Cornel Wilde (A Song to Remember, 1945) in an early-career appearance as mobster Louis Mendoza. John Huston would later remark on Bogart's unique appeal in the role of Roy Earle: "Bogie was a medium sized man, not particularly impressive off-screen, but something happened when he was playing the right part. Those lights and shadows composed themselves into another, nobler personality: heroic, as in High Sierra. I swear the camera has a way of looking into a person and perceiving things that the naked eye doesn't register." High Sierra was remade in 1949 as Colorado Territory and in 1955 as I Died a Thousand Times with Jack Palance, Shelley Winters and Dennis Hopper. The original film established a precedent that led to such contemporary outlaw movies as Bonnie and Clyde (1967). As one would expect, Warner Video has released a lovingly restored DVD presentation of this key Bogart title. The Criterion Collection couldn't have done it better except in the extras department. This disc only serves up the theatrical trailer and a brief featurette on the making of the film: "Curtains for Roy Earle." For more information about High Sierra, visit Warner Video. To order High Sierra, go to TCM Shopping. by Jessica Handler

Quotes

I wouldn't give you two cents for a dame without a temper.
- Roy Earle
Yeah, I get it, 'ya always sorta hope 'ya can get out, it keeps 'ya going.
- Marie Garson
Roy, this is the land of milk and honey for the health racket. Every woman in California thinks she's either too fat or too thin or too something.
- 'Doc' Banton

Trivia

Humphrey Bogart's part was originally intended for George Raft, who didn't want (or perhaps was persuaded by Bogart not to want) yet another gangster role. It was then offered to 'Muni, Paul' and perhaps to other actors before Bogart was cast.

Roy Earle's dog, Pard, was actually played by Humphrey Bogart's own dog, Zero.

Notes

In the film's credits, "Zero" the dog's credit reads: "'Pard' as portrayed by Zero." A memo from associate producer Mark Hellinger to executive producer Hal Wallis suggests that due to favorable publicity generated by Ida Lupino's role in They Drive by Night, she should be billed above Humphrey Bogart who, up to this point, had starred in "B" pictures. Lupino was billed in first position, but Bogart's performance as "Roy Earle" established him as a star in the opinion of many critics and in later releases, he was billed above Lupino. The film marked the first time Cornel Wilde was billed on the screen.
       A Hollywood Reporter news item dated March 18, 1940 states that Warner Bros. purchased W. R. Burnett's novel for $25,000. According to studio memos reprinted in a modern source, Paul Muni and George Raft were offered the lead, but turned it down. Modern sources report that George Raft turned down the role because he was tired of getting killed in the last reel and add that James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson also rejected the part. Modern sources note that some scenes were shot on location at Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead in California. In 1949 Raoul Walsh directed another version of W. R. Burnett's novel entitled Colorado Territory. A third version, I Died a Thousand Times, was directed by Stuart Heisler in 1955. That film starred Jack Palance and Shelley Winters.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1941

Broadcast in USA over TBS (colorized version) September 18, 1988.

Released in United States 1941