Key Largo (1948) – John Huston

The next title on the What Else to Watch following DK Canada’s The Movie Book recommendation of Casablanca is the classic drama from director John Huston, Key Largo.

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson the story is sharp, well-written penned by Huston and Richard Brooks, from a stage play by Maxwell Anderson.

Bogart plays Frank McCloud, a retired major travels to Key Largo to visit with the family of one of his men who died under his command during the war. James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) and his daughter-in-law, Nora (Bacall) run a hotel, and Frank is looking forward to meeting them before continuing on to Key West.

When he arrives, he is troubled to find that a group of mobsters, led by Rocco (Robinson) has taken over the hotel and is awaiting his departure. Unfortunately, that departure is not only hindered by Frank’s arrival and a hurricane.

Trapped together, things elevate dangerously, a reflection of the growing storm outside. As events progress, McCloud is pushed to action, eschewing his ‘stick-my-neck-out-for-no-man’ attitude. This not only endears him to Temple, but also begins to win over the heart of Nora.


Robinson in his portrayal of Rocco is threatening, verging on the psychopathic. His treatment of those around him is cold, brutal and infuriating and you want nothing more than for him to receive his comeuppance.

Huston keeps the characters and the story wound tight, and the film plays out tensely, as our characters pace the confines of the hotel, the storm raging outside.

Bogart is his usual self, or rather his screen self, and you know he’ll only take so much before he is pushed into action. It’s also a delight to see he and Bacall on the screen together, a romance playing out for the audience, knowing that the two of them were happy in real life at the same time.

This is one of those classics that I have only seen a couple of times, so each time I view it, it’s a new experience, and I revel in the film making and the performances. It’s a fantastically made film, incredibly entertaining and despite the fact that the film was shot completely in studio and on sets, it still has a reality to it that a lot of studio shot films didn’t have.

This one was a fantastic watch, seeing legends like Bogart, Bacall, Barrymore and Robinson share the screen together is something to behold, and it’s thanks to DK Books’ The Movie Book that I got to check it out again!

Shouldn’t you watch a classic tonight?



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