High Sierra (film)

Last updated
High Sierra
Highsierra.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by Mark Hellinger
Screenplay by John Huston
W.R. Burnett
Based onHigh Sierra
1940 novel
by W.R. Burnett
Starring Ida Lupino
Humphrey Bogart
Alan Curtis
Arthur Kennedy
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Edited by Jack Killifer
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • January 21, 1941 (1941-01-21)(United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$491,000 [1]
Box office$1,489,000 [1]

High Sierra is a 1941 heist film and early film noir written by William R. Burnett and John Huston from the novel by Burnett. The film features Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart, and was directed by Raoul Walsh, with location work shot at Whitney Portal, halfway up Mount Whitney in the Sierra Nevada of California. [2]

Contents

The screenplay was co-written by John Huston, Bogart's friend and drinking partner, adapted from the novel by William R. Burnett (also known for, among others, Little Caesar and Scarface ). [3] The film cemented a strong personal and professional connection between Bogart and Huston, [4] and provided the breakthrough in Bogart's career, transforming him from supporting player to leading man. The film's success also led to a breakthrough for Huston, providing him with the clout he needed to make the transition from screenwriter to director, which he made later that year with his adaptation of The Maltese Falcon (1941), starring Bogart.

The film contains extensive location shooting, especially in the climactic final scenes, as the authorities pursue Bogart's character, gangster "Mad Dog" Roy Earle, from Lone Pine up to the foot of the mountain.

Plot

An aged gangster, Big Mac (Donald MacBride), is planning a robbery at a fashionable California resort hotel in the fictional resort town of Tropico Springs, California. He wants the experienced Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart), whose release from an eastern prison by a governor's pardon he has arranged, to lead the heist and to take charge of the operation. [5]

Roy drives across the country to a camp in the mountains to meet with the three men who will assist him in the heist: Louis Mendoza (Cornel Wilde), who works as a clerk in the hotel, Red (Arthur Kennedy), and Babe (Alan Curtis), who are already living at the camp. Babe has brought along a dance-hall girl, Marie (Ida Lupino). Roy wants to send Marie back to Los Angeles, but after some argument, she convinces Roy to let her stay. Roy also adopts a small dog called Pard. Marie falls in love with Roy as he plans and executes the robbery, but he does not reciprocate initially.

On the drive up to the mountains, Roy meets the family of Velma (Joan Leslie), a young woman with a clubbed foot who walks with a limp. Roy pays for corrective surgery to allow Velma to walk normally, despite her grandfather's warning that Velma has a boyfriend back home. While she is recovering, Roy asks Velma to marry him, but she refuses, explaining that she is engaged to a man from back home. When Velma's fiancé arrives, Roy turns to Marie, and they become lovers.

The heist goes wrong when they are interrupted by a security guard. Roy makes his getaway with Marie, but Mendoza, Red, and Babe are involved in a car crash, killing Red and Babe. Mendoza is captured and talks, putting the police on Roy's trail. Roy goes to Big Mac with the jewels from the robbery, but finds him dead of a heart attack.

While Roy and Marie leave town, a dragnet is put out for him, identifying him to the public as "Mad Dog Roy Earle". The two fugitives separate to allow Marie time to escape. Roy is pursued until he climbs one of the Sierra mountains, where he fires shots at the police and then holes up overnight.

Shortly after sunrise, Roy hears Pard barking, runs out calling Marie's name, and is shot dead from behind by a sharpshooter.

Cast

Production

George Raft was originally intended to play Roy Earle, but Bogart, who took a great interest in playing the role, managed to talk Raft out of accepting it. [6] Walsh tried to persuade Raft otherwise but Raft did not want to die at the end. [7] Filmink said Raft "turned down High Sierra because it was another gangster part, despite the excellent source material and Raoul Walsh directing (admittedly Paul Muni rejected the role first for the same reason… but Muni was a proper actor, well established in a variety of parts and Raft wasn’t)." [8]

Bogart had to persuade director Walsh to hire him for the role, since Walsh envisioned Bogart as a supporting player rather than a leading man.

Bogart's character's dog, "Pard", was erroneously believed by some to be canine actor "Terry" ("Toto" from The Wizard of Oz ). In fact, he is Bogart's own dog, Zero. In the final scene, Buster Wiles, a stunt performer, plays Roy's corpse. His hand is filled with biscuits to encourage Pard to lick Roy's hand. [9]

Many key shots of the movie were filmed on location in the Sierra Nevada. In a climactic scene, Bogart's character slid 90 feet (27 m) down a mountainside to his just reward. His stunt double, Wiles, bounced a few times going down the mountain and wanted another take to do better. "Forget it," said Raoul Walsh. "It's good enough for the 25-cent customers." [10]

Reception

Critic Bosley Crowther liked the acting in the picture, and wrote, "As gangster pictures go, this one has everything—speed, excitement, suspense, and that ennobling suggestion of futility, which makes for irony and pity. Mr. Bogart plays the leading role with a perfection of hard-boiled vitality, and Ida Lupino, Arthur Kennedy, Alan Curtis, and a newcomer named Joan Leslie handle lesser roles effectively. Especially, is Miss Lupino impressive as the adoring moll. As gangster pictures go—if they do—it's a perfect epilogue. Count on the old guard and Warners: they die but never surrender." [11]

Time reviewed the film when released as having "less of realistic savagery than of the quaint, nostalgic atmosphere of costume drama." The reviewer noted, "What makes High Sierra something more than a Grade B melodrama is its sensitive delineation of gangster Earle's character. Superbly played by Actor Bogart, Earle is a complex human being, a farmer boy who turned mobster, a gunman with a string of murders on his record who still is shocked when newsmen call him "Mad-Dog" Earle. He is kind to the mongrel dog (Zero) that travels with him, befriends a taxi dancer (Ida Lupino) who becomes his moll, and goes out of his way to help a crippled girl (Joan Leslie). All Roy Earle wants is freedom. He finds it for good on a lonely peak in the mountains." [12]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a critic score of 94% based on 18 reviews. [13]

Box office

According to Warner Bros. records, the film made $1,063,000 domestically ($18.5 million in 2019 terms) and $426,000 ($7.4 million in 2019 terms) in other territories. [1]

Adaptations

It was adapted as a radio play on two broadcasts of The Screen Guild Theater , first on January 4, 1942, with Humphrey Bogart and Claire Trevor, the second on April 17, 1944, with Bogart and Ida Lupino. [14] The film was remade twice: [15]

See also

Related Research Articles

Humphrey Bogart American actor

Humphrey DeForest Bogart, nicknamed Bogey, was an American film and stage actor. His performances in Classical Hollywood cinema films made him an American cultural icon. In 1999, the American Film Institute selected Bogart as the greatest male star of classic American cinema.

Lone Pine, California Census designated place in California, United States

Lone Pine is a census designated place (CDP) in Inyo County, California, United States. Lone Pine is located 16 miles (26 km) south-southeast of Independence, at an elevation of 3,727 feet. The population was 2,035 at the 2010 census, up from 1,655 at the 2000 census. The town is located in the Owens Valley, near the Alabama Hills and Mount Whitney, between the eastern peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the west and the Inyo Mountains to the east. From possible choices of urban, rural, and frontier, the Census Bureau identifies this area as "frontier". The local hospital, Southern Inyo Hospital, offers standby emergency services. The town is named after a solitary pine tree that once existed at the mouth of Lone Pine Canyon. On March 26, 1872, the very large Lone Pine earthquake destroyed most of the town and killed 27 of its 250 to 300 residents.

The year 1937 in film involved some significant events, including the Walt Disney production of the first American full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Ida Lupino English-American actress, singer, director, and producer (1918–1995)

Ida Lupino was an English-American actress, singer, director, and producer. She is widely regarded as the most prominent female filmmaker working in the 1950s during the Hollywood studio system. With her independent production company, she co-wrote and co-produced several social-message films and became the first woman to direct a film noir with The Hitch-Hiker in 1953. Among her other directed films the best known are Not Wanted about unwed pregnancy, Never Fear (1949) loosely based upon her own experiences battling paralyzing polio, Outrage (1950) one of the first films about rape, The Bigamist (1953) and The Trouble with Angels (1966).

Raoul Walsh American film director and actor

Raoul A. Walsh was an American film director, actor, founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), and the brother of silent screen actor George Walsh. He was known for portraying John Wilkes Booth in the silent classic The Birth of a Nation (1915) and for directing such films as the widescreen epic The Big Trail (1930) starring John Wayne in his first leading role, The Roaring Twenties starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, High Sierra (1941) starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart, and White Heat (1949) starring James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien. He directed his last film in 1964.

George Raft American actor

George Raft was an American film actor and dancer identified with portrayals of gangsters in crime melodramas of the 1930s and 1940s. A stylish leading man in dozens of movies, Raft is remembered for his gangster roles in Scarface (1932), Each Dawn I Die (1939) with James Cagney, and Billy Wilder's comedy Some Like It Hot (1959) with Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon, as a dancer in Bolero (1934) with Carole Lombard, and a truck driver in They Drive by Night (1940) with Humphrey Bogart.

William Riley "W. R." Burnett was an American novelist and screenwriter. He is best known for the crime novel Little Caesar, the film adaptation of which is considered the first of the classic American gangster movies.

<i>The Enforcer</i> (1951 film) 1951 film by Bretaigne Windust

The Enforcer is a 1951 American film noir co-directed by Bretaigne Windust and an uncredited Raoul Walsh, who shot most of the film's suspenseful moments, including the ending. The production, largely a police procedural, features Humphrey Bogart and is based on the Murder, Inc. trials.

Mark Hellinger American journalism, columnist, and film producer

Mark John Hellinger was an American journalist, theatre columnist and film producer.

<i>They Drive by Night</i> 1940 film by Raoul Walsh

They Drive by Night is a 1940 film noir directed by Raoul Walsh and starring George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino, and Humphrey Bogart. The picture involves a pair of embattled truck drivers and was released in the UK under the title The Road to Frisco. The film was based on A. I. Bezzerides' 1938 novel Long Haul, which was later reprinted under the title They Drive by Night to capitalize on the success of the film. Part of the film's plot was borrowed from another Warner Bros. film, Bordertown (1935).

<i>The Maltese Falcon</i> (1941 film) 1941 film by John Huston

The Maltese Falcon is a 1941 American film noir directed and scripted by John Huston in his directorial debut, based on the 1930 novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett and indebted to the 1931 movie of the same name. It stars Humphrey Bogart as private investigator Sam Spade and Mary Astor as his femme fatale client. Gladys George, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet co-star, with the last appearing in his film debut. The story follows a San Francisco private detective and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers, all of whom are competing to obtain a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette.

The 13th National Board of Review Awards were given on 20 December 1941.

<i>The Man I Love</i> (1947 film) 1947 film by Raoul Walsh

The Man I Love is a 1947 American film noir melodrama directed by Raoul Walsh, based on the novel Night Shift by Maritta M. Wolff, and starring Ida Lupino, Robert Alda and Bruce Bennett. The title is taken from the George and Ira Gershwin song "The Man I Love", which is prominently featured.

<i>And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself</i> 2003 television film by Bruce Beresford

And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself is a 2003 American made-for-television western film for HBO in partnership with City Entertainment and starring Antonio Banderas as Pancho Villa, directed by Bruce Beresford, written by Larry Gelbart and produced by Joshua D. Maurer, Mark Gordon, and Larry Gelbart. The cast also includes Alan Arkin, Jim Broadbent, Michael McKean, Eion Bailey, and Alexa Davalos.

<i>I Died a Thousand Times</i>

I Died a Thousand Times is a 1955 American CinemaScope Warnercolor film noir crime film directed by Stuart Heisler. The drama features Jack Palance as paroled bank robber Roy Earle, with Shelley Winters, Lee Marvin, Earl Holliman, Perry Lopez, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, and Lon Chaney, Jr.

Manpower is a 1941 film noir directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich, and George Raft. The picture was written by Richard Macauley and Jerry Wald, and the supporting cast features Alan Hale, Frank McHugh, Eve Arden, Barton MacLane, Ward Bond and Walter Catlett.

<i>Invisible Stripes</i> 1939 film by Lloyd Bacon

Invisible Stripes is a 1939 Warner Bros. crime film starring George Raft as a gangster unable to go straight after returning home from prison. The movie was directed by Lloyd Bacon and also features William Holden, Jane Bryan and Humphrey Bogart. The screenplay by Warren Duff was based on the novel of the same name by Warden Lewis E. Lawes, a fervent crusader for prison reform, as adapted by Jonathan Finn.

<i>The Treasure of the Sierra Madre</i> (film) 1948 film

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is a 1948 American Western adventure drama film written and directed by John Huston. It is an adaptation of B. Traven's 1927 novel of the same name, set in the 1920s. In the movie, driven by their desperate economic plight, two young men, Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, join old-timer Howard in Mexico to prospect for gold.

<i>White Heat</i> 1949 American film noir by Raoul Walsh

White Heat is a 1949 American film noir directed by Raoul Walsh and starring James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly and Steve Cochran. Written by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, White Heat is based on a story by Virginia Kellogg, and is considered to be one of the best gangster movies of all time. In 2003, it was added to the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress.

<i>They Drive by Night</i> (1938 film) 1938 film by Arthur B. Woods

They Drive by Night is a 1938 British black-and-white crime thriller film directed by Arthur B. Woods and starring Emlyn Williams as Shorty, an ex-con, and Ernest Thesiger as Walter Hoover, an ex-schoolmaster. It was produced by Warner Bros. - First National Productions and based on the 1938 novel They Drive by Night by James Curtis.

References

  1. 1 2 3 Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 1 doi:10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. High Sierra at IMDb.
  3. Sperber, A.M.; Lax, Eric (1997). Bogart . New York: William Morrow & Co. p.  119. ISBN   0-688-07539-8.
  4. Meyers, Jeffrey (1997). Bogart: A Life in Hollywood. London: Andre Deutsch Ltd. p. 115. ISBN   0-233-99144-1.
  5. High Sierra at Film Reference.com
  6. Curtains for Roy Earle: The Story of 'High Sierra' (2003)
  7. Walsh, Raoul (1974). Each man in his time; the life story of a director . Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p.  353.
  8. Vagg, Stephen (February 9, 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: George Raft". Filmink.
  9. Hughes, Howard (2006). Crime Wave. I.B.Tauris. p. 16. ISBN   978-1-84511-219-6 . Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  10. Sperber, A.M. and Lax, Eric. Bogart, p. 127.
  11. Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "High Sierra, Considers the Tragic and Dramatic Plight of the Last Gangster," January 25, 1941. Accessed: January 29, 2008.
  12. Time. "The New Pictures," February 17, 1941. Accessed: April 17, 2008.
  13. "High Sierra", Rotten Tomatoes , retrieved 2016-10-28
  14. "Those Were The Days". Nostalgia Digest. 41 (3): 32–39. Summer 2015.
  15. Agostinelli, Alessandro (2004). Una filosofia del cinema americano. Individualismo e noir[A Philosophy of American cinema. Individualism and noir] (in Italian). Edizioni ETS. p. 135. ISBN   9788846708113.

Streaming audio