Noir fest is underway! Huzzah!
Who better to kick things off with than quintessential noir star Humphrey Bogart? That’s right, no one.
High Sierra is the story of Roy Earle, a bank robber who gets pardoned from prison as the film opens. Turns out, he was pardoned because a mob boss greased the wheels of the system so that Roy could perform a heist at a resort not far from LA. That is where our noir action takes off.
This was Bogart’s first big lead role, as before this he was just a supporting actor. See that poster above? Yeah, you see that correctly, he doesn’t have top billing! So, he made the most of his big break, bringing to life a character the audience could care about (believing he really just wanted a simple life back on the farm with a nice girl) while also loving every second when he flipped the badass switch (believing that though he was short in stature, he was the laaaaaaast mobster you wanted to piss off by running your mouth or being rough with the ladies… careful, he just might hit you with his gun, that’s his move). This film kicked off one of the most iconic careers of film history.
As noir films go, it has much of what you would expect. Sure, missing was the smoky rooms, the rainy and shadowy streets, etc. Yet, it still had the tragic twists of fate, the awful wages of crime, there’s even a dog that embodies the danger looming for our protagonist.
Minus the inexplicable three minutes of racism, it was a solid start to noir-fest.