Cast & Crew
Edward G. Robinson
Disillusioned veteran Frank McCloud arrives on the island of Key Largo, Florida to visit the family of George Temple, who died under his command in Italy during World War II. At the rundown Hotel Largo where George's wheelchair-bound father James lives with George's widow, Nora, Frank encounters Curly Hoff, Toots, Angel and Gaye Dawn in the bar. Learning from them that the hotel is closed for the off-season, Frank searches out the Temples, who greet him warmly and insist that he stay the night. Nora explains that their guests offered her father-in-law so much money to open the hotel for them, that he could not turn them down. Later, a hurricane warning is issued and as Nora fastens the shutters in preparation, the telephone rings. Curly tells the caller that the Temples are not around and adds that Sawyer, the local police officer, has not been seen either. When Temple objects, the men pull their guns. In response to the activity, the men's leader comes downstairs for the first time since Frank's arrival, and Frank recognizes him as deported gangster Johnny Rocco. Rocco has entered the country illegally from Cuba in order to make a delivery of counterfeit money, but his contacts have been delayed by the approaching storm. Meanwhile, he and his men have captured and beaten Sawyer, who was searching for the Oceola brothers, Seminoles who had escaped from jail. When Rocco, impressed by Nora's feisty spirit, makes a pass at her, she spits in his face, and Frank stops him from killing her with some fast talking. Mocking Frank's heroics, Rocco throws him a gun and, holding his own gun on Frank, tells him that he can rid the world of Rocco if he is willing to die in the process. To the disappointment of both Nora and Temple, Frank refuses to shoot. He throws the gun down and Sawyer grabs it and tries to escape. Rocco kills Sawyer, revealing that the other gun was not loaded, a fact that Frank had no way of knowing. Rocco then demands that Gaye, his alcoholic former mistress, sing a song before she can have a drink. She is too desperate to sing well, and when Rocco still refuses to give her a drink because her singing was "rotten," Frank takes pity on her. Rocco slaps him and once again, Frank does nothing. The full force of the hurricane then hits, terrifying Rocco and giving Nora a chance to challenge Frank about his disillusionment. After the storm passes, Rocco discovers that his boat has disappeared. He orders Frank to take Temple's boat and transport him to Cuba. Before they can leave, a second police officer comes looking for Sawyer and finds his body on the shore, where it washed up during the storm. Rocco blames the murder on the Oceola brothers, who are on the island to turn themselves in on Temple's advice, and when the Indians try to escape, the officer murders them. As the gangsters prepare to leave, Gaye begs Rocco to take her along, and while she clings to him, she grabs his gun from his jacket pocket and slips it to Frank. After he sets course for Cuba, Frank maneuvers the boat to knock one man overboard and shoots the others, including Rocco. Although he has been wounded, Frank radios his position and then calls the hotel to tell Nora and Temple that he is coming back home.
Edward G. Robinson
Joe P. Smith
E. F. Dexter
Leo K. Kuter
Fred M. Maclean
Best Supporting Actress
Edward G. Robinson is mesmerizing as the one-time crime czar Rocco, even though he had long grown tired of the gangster image he helped mold in films as Little Caesar (1930) and Brother Orchid (1940). There was little doubt that the character Robinson was modeled on in Key Largo was Al Capone, who retired to Florida and died there of complications due to advanced syphillis a year before Huston's film was produced. Screenwriter Brooks later revealed he had also incorporated biographical details about another famous gangster, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, into Rocco's character as well. Robinson certainly captured the brutal quality of these two criminals in his performance, and Huston later paid him the odd compliment, saying, "I think Key Largo is best remembered by most people for the introductory scene, with Eddie in the bathtub, cigar in mouth. He looked like a crustacean with its shell off."
In her autobiography, By Myself, Lauren Bacall recalls Key Largo as "one of the happiest movie experiences. I thought how marvelous a medium the movies were, to enable one to meet, befriend, and work with such people." Her husband, Humphrey Bogart, was also impressed with the distinguished cast and crew and had the highest respect for Robinson off-screen, despite the on-screen tension between their characters. Though Bogart did receive top billing in the film, Robinson was given the star treatment from him on the set. Robinson later commented on his marquee status in his autobiography (All My Yesterdays): "The journey down. No suspense to this. I didn't even argue. Why not second billing? At fifty-three I was lucky to get any billing at all."
Other Key Largo trivia: Claire Trevor won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar® for her performance as Rocco's alcoholic companion, a character based on Lucky Luciano's mistress, Gay Orlova.
The ramshackle hotel where most of the drama unfolds was constructed on the Warner Bros. lot along with the beach area. Exterior shots of the hurricane were actually taken from stock footage used in Night Unto Night, a Ronald Reagan melodrama made the same year at Warner Bros.
Director: John Huston
Producer: Jerry Wald
Screenplay: Richard Brooks, John Huston, based on the play by Maxwell Anderson
Cinematography: Karl Freund
Editor: Rudi Fehr
Art Direction: Leo K. Kuter
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Humphrey Bogart (Frank McCloud), Edward G. Robinson (Johnny Rocco/ Howard Brown), Lauren Bacall (Nora Temple), Lionel Barrymore (James Temple), Claire Trevor (Gaye Dawn)
BW-101m. Close captioning. Descriptive video.
by Jeff Stafford
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
Born Max Goldsmith on February 17, 1910, in the Bronx, Lawrence had his heart set on a career in drama right out of high school. He enrolled at City College of New York to study theatre, and in 1930, he worked under famed stage actress Eva Le Gallienne. Anxious for a career in movies, Lawrence moved to Hollywood in 1932 and found work immediately as a contract player with Warner Bros. (an ideal studio for the actor since they specialized in crime dramas). He was cast as a heavy in his first film, If I Had a Million (1932). Although his first few parts were uncredited, Lawrence's roles grew more prominent: a sinister henchman in the Paul Muni vehicle in Dr. Socrates (1935); a conniving convict aiding Pat O'Brien in San Quentin (1937); a menacing thug stalking Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940); the shrewdly observant chauffeur in Alan Ladd's breakthrough hit This Gun For Hire (1942); and one of his most memorable roles as Ziggy, a fedora wearing mobster in the Bogart-Bacall noir classic Key Largo (1948).
Lawrence, when given the opportunity, could play against type: as the prosecuting attorney challenging Tyrone Power in Brigham Young (1940); a noble aristocrat in the Greer Garson-Walter Pidgeon period opus Blossoms in the Dust; and most impressively, as a deaf mute simpleton in the rustic drama The Shepherd of the Hills (both 1941). Better still was Lawrence's skill at comedy, where his deadpan toughness worked terrifically as a straight man against the likes of Joe E. Brown in Beware Spooks (1939); Abbott and Costello in Hit the Ice (1943); Penny Singleton in Life with Blondie (1945); and Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951).
After that, Lawrence's career took a turn downward spin when he was labeled a communist sympathizer during the Hollywood witch hunts of the early '50s. He was exiled in Europe for a spell (1951-59), and when he came back, the film industry turned a blind eye to him, but television overcompensated for that. Here he played effective villains (what else?) in a series of crime caper programs: Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, The Untouchables, Richard Diamond, Private Detective; and eventually made a welcome return to the big screen as a returning exiled gangster in William Asher's underrated mob thriller Johnny Cool (1963).
It wasn't long before Lawrence found himself back in the fray playing in some big box-office hits over the next two decades: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Marathon Man (1976), Foul Play (1978); and The Big Easy (1987). Sure he was cast as a gangster, but nobody could play a rough and tumble mob boss with more style or conviction.
Interestingly, one of his finest performances in recent years was in television, as a severely ill old man unwilling to accept his fate in a fourth season episode of ER (1997-98). His last screen role was just two years ago, as a nimble minded VP in Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003).
In 1991, Lawrence published a memoir about his venerable career, Long Time No See: Confessions of a Hollywood Gangster that received much critical acclaim. He has also developed a cult following due to his appearances in such offbeat items as From Dusk to Dawn and Pigs aka Daddy's Deadly Darling, the 1972 horror film he directed and starred in with his daughter Toni. He is survived by his wife, Alicia; two children from a previous marriage, Toni and Michael; and a stepdaughter Marina.
by Michael T. Toole
Marc Lawrence (1910-2005)
You don't like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don't you? If it doesn't stop, shoot it.- Frank McCloud
When your head says one thing and your whole life says another, your head always loses.- Frank McCloud
After living in the USA for more than thirty-five years they called me an undesirable alien. Me. Johnny Rocco. Like I was a dirty Red or something!- Johnny Rocco
One Rocco more or less isn't worth dying for!- Frank McCloud
Charlie! Charlie Winook and his family, Crawfish Island. Charlie's a prince of the Seminole Nation. His ancestors go back to the gods. He sells sea shells by the sea shore.- Nora Temple
Santana was the name of Humphrey Bogart's yacht, which he purchased from June Allyson and 'Powell, Dick' . He loved the Santana so much he named his production company after it.
The character of Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor) was based on real-life moll Gay Orlova (Lucky Luciano's girlfriend), allegedly executed by a German firing squad.
The main character, Frank McCloud, describes having served with Nora's late husband in the WWII battle at San Pietro, Italy; director/co-screenwriter 'John Huston' had been involved in that battle as the creator of the documentary film San Pietro (1945) while he was in the armed services' motion picture division.
Fourth and final film pairing of Bogart and Bacall. A fifth film was planned several years later, but Bogart died before it could be made.
In the film, James Temple describes the 1935 hurricane that devastated Matacumbe Key. This was one of worst hurricanes in U.S. history and many of the victims of the storm were World War I veterans who were building the Florida Keys portion of U.S. Highway 1, also known as the Overseas Highway. A portion of the highway is seen in the film's opening. The storm also produced the lowest-ever recorded barometric pressure over land in the North American continent.
The film begins with the following foreword: "At the southernmost point of the United States are the Florida Keys, a string of small islands held together by a concrete causeway. Largest of these remote coral islands is Key Largo." According to a November 6, 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item, some scenes were filmed on location in Key West, FL, although Huston stated in a modern interview that it was shot mostly in the studio. A January 13, 1948 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that director of photography Karl Freund shot a three-minute continuous sequence using two dollies and a new light-weight camera. The shot begins when Humphrey Bogart and Thomas Gomez are in a bathroom and moves through a room into the hallway, down two flights of stairs, through another hallway and onto a porch. A modern source notes that Huston drew on his 1944 war documentary San Pietro when writing the scenes in which "Frank" tells "Nora" and "Temple" about his dead friend. This was Huston's last film for Warner Bros., and the last film that Bogart and Bacall made together. Claire Trevor won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Edward G. Robinson and Claire Trevor reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on November 28, 1949.
Released in United States Summer July 16, 1948
Released in United States July 31, 1948
Broadcast in USA over TBS (colorized version) November 9, 1988.
Re-released in Paris May 30, 1990.
Released in United States Summer July 16, 1948
Released in United States July 31, 1948