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On the surface, KEY LARGO ($25) may appear to be a typical gangster movie, since it stars Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. However, this movie is anything but typical. KEY LARGO is more of a character study that examines how the protagonist and antagonist react under pressure. The plot of KEY LARGO concerns Frank McCloud (Bogart), a returning W.W.II veteran who travels to Key Largo to see hotel proprietor James Temple (Lionel Barrymore), so that he can pay his respects to the father of an army buddy who was killed in the war. When McCloud arrives, he finds the hotel closed for the off-season, except for a few less than welcoming guests. McCloud learns from Templeís daughter-in-law Nora (Lauren Bacall) that they re-opened the hotel for their surly guests because they willingly paid to rent out the entire place.

Eventually, McCloud and the others learn that the hotelís guests are in reality notorious mobster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) and his gang. As expected, a hostage situation arises, just as a hurricane is about to strike Key Largo. The storm traps everyone inside the hotel and the situation turns into a pressure cooker, while everyone is forced to wait out natureís wrath. Sure, the plot is somewhat predictable, but the first rate performances really hold the audienceís attention. Itís always a treat to see talents like Bogart and Robinson play off of one another. Barrymore gives a solid supporting performance and the impossibly young Bacall simply smolders on the screen. KEY LARGO also earned a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for Claire Trevor, who portrays Roccoís drunken girlfriend Gaye Dawn. The cast of KEY LARGO also includes Thomas Gomez, Harry Lewis, John Rodney, Marc Lawrence, Dan Seymour, Monte Blue, William Haade and the uncredited Jay Silverheels.

Warner Home Video has done a very nice job with their DVD edition of KEY LARGO. KEY LARGO has been given a very good black and white transfer that correctly frames the film at 1.33:1. The film element for this 1948 release is in relatively good shape, although there are times when KEY LARGO shows its age. There are the expected scratches and splotches on the print, which arenít too distracting. KEY LARGO delivers a sharp, well-defined image, with solid blacks and very good contrast. All and all, this transfer is an excellent representation of Karl Freundís superb black and white cinematography. There are no problems with digital compression artifacts on this well authored DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is very clean, with good dialogue reproduction. This isnít what anyone would call high fidelity sound, but after all this film was released in 1948. A French language soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and French subtitles.

The interactive menus are of the basic variety, providing the requisite scene selection and set up features, as well the DVDís extras. KEY LARGO also includes a theatrical trailer and production notes, which are also accessible through the menu system.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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