is a 1947 Film Noir
directed by Delmer Daves, based on a novel by David Goodis.
The plot follows Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart
), falsely convicted of murdering his wife, as he escapes prison and sets out to clear his name. He is aided in this effort by Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall
), who picks up Vincent by the side of the road as he was making his escape and chooses to help him in further endeavours because his case is exactly like her father's, although unlike Vincent, her father died in prison. In order to avoid being recognised by the police, who have a massive dragnet out for him, Parry changes his facial features with the aid of a plastic surgeon and a friendly cab driver.
The original novel was part of a lawsuit involving David Goodis and the creators of The Fugitive
, which Goodis alleged shamelessly ripped off the plot of his novel. The litigation dragged on for years, finally reaching a settlement after Goodis and his brother (the executor of his estate) were both dead and the case became merely a nuisance suit.
The film contains examples of:
- Asshole Victim: As mentioned by Vincent's friend George, Vincent's wife was spoiled and unfaithful to him. The only reason she didn't leave him was because she couldn't find anyone worth leaving Vincent for, and because she wanted Vincent to be miserable and not have anyone else.
- Back-Alley Doctor: The plastic surgeon.
- Bittersweet Ending: Vincent is unable to prove that Madge killed his wife and George. Madge confesses to the murders, but then falls to her death, and Vincent is forced to leave the country. Vincent narrowly escapes being seen by a police officer who had previously tried to arrest him for being suspicious, and is forced to live as a fugitive in South America. The only perk is that Irene manages to join him in hiding.
- Blackmail: A guy named Baker, who gave Vincent a lift after his escape from prison, eventually tracks him down and demands $60,000 not to turn him in to the cops. He doesn't get it.
- Celebrity Paradox: For the key plot point to work (Bogart's character getting plastic surgery to avoid recognition) this has to be a universe where Humphrey Bogart the actor does not exist and therefore would not be recognisable to any randomer on the street.
- Clear My Name
- Contrived Coincidence: The film runs on a series of them (not that it's necessarily a bad thing). For example:
- Irene, one of the only people willing to believe Vincent, just happens to find Vincent just as he's running away from prison.
- The taxi driver happens to believe him too, and even knows a guy who can help him.
- Irene just happens to be friends with Madge.
- Disney Villain Death: Baker, and later Madge.
- Femme Fatale / Woman Scorned: Madge Rapf, who killed Vincent's wife just so she could have him. And when he rejected her, she perjured herself in court to send him to jail for murder. Later, when he got out, she killed his best friend so Vincent would have no one to turn to.
- Film Noir
- Leitmotif: "Too Marvelous for Words" is played several times as a love theme for Vincent and Irene.
- Marquee Alter Ego: For the first act, the protagonist is played by Bogart (via voiceover) but the character looks like someone entirely different (we only see his picture in the paper), Then he gets Magic Plastic Surgery in order to look like Humphrey Bogart for The Reveal and he stays that way for the rest of the film.
- P.O.V. Cam: The first act is told entirely through Parry's perspective.
- Run for the Border / Tropical Epilogue
- San Francisco: The setting for the bulk of the story.
- Those Two Actors: The third Bogart-Bacall film.
- Trailers Always Lie: The trailer completely leaves out the first person perspective segments, save one, of the first act. This leads the viewer to believe that it's a straight Bogart-Bacall film.