High Sierra (1941)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Caper, Gangster Film  |   Release Date - Jan 21, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Adam Bregman

High Sierra is pretty hokey for a gangster flick, what with a dog playing a key role in the story. The down-on-their-luck farm family that befriends Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart) is also challenged in the acting department. For instance, watching Velma (Joan Leslie) attempting to cry on screen is the stuff of bad high school drama departments. The scenes with the family also require Bogart to smile more often than he should. Smiling is not Bogart's strongest suit, though speaking through his teeth is, and he also does plenty of that in High Sierra, playing the usual tough, unforgiving gangster. In this role he also possess a caring, sort of domestic side to his character, and he's a pushover, going so far as to bring a dog with him at Marie Garson's (Ida Lupino) request, during a robbery. Algernon (Willie Best) sticks out as a completely racist stereotype who thankfully only has a few scenes. Bogart, in this 1941 release, despite a screenplay that has moments of inspiration and scenes that just stink, carries the film on his back. Ida Lupino is good, too, as the desperate runaway who hangs onto Bogart much like the abandoned dog. But her role doesn't give her much to work with. High Sierra is another gangster film that would be mostly forgettable if it weren't for Bogart's stellar acting. Note: Avoid the colorized version which makes the landscape look fake and some of the actors look orange.