bogart, bacall, lionel barrymore, edward g. robinson, and claire trevor make the up the bulk of a stacked cast. unfortunately bogey and bacall were the only ones i was really happy with. robinson was too over the top and maniacal, barrymore should have been replaced by brennan, and trevor was a bit too expressionistic for my taste. it’s a shame, too, because the story has a lot of potential. huston does a fine job, but it’s not one of his best efforts.
it’s set in florida during a hurricane and it plays out as sort of an allegory of good versus evil on an island further isolated by the impending hurricane. bogart is a wwII vet (he was probably about 48 about the time of filming so he looked a bit old for the role) who comes to visit a deceased war buddy’s family (barrymore is the father, bacall the widow). as an aside, bogart mentions the battle of san pietro which was actually documented by john huston in a documentary of the same name. bogey and bacall never have an explicit romance in this picture, but they clearly care for each other and it was enough to hold up their portion of the film. 20-30 mins into the film robinson and his gang take over the hotel and everyone becomes a hostage. meanwhile there’s a secondary plot of native americans who are outside of the hotel and they become innocent victims of robinson’s siege. barrymore comments on what a shame it is that they always seem to get the short end of the stick and trevor tells him it’s because of men like robinson so barrymore shouldn’t take on the responsibility himself.
i liked the character dynamics – bogart-robinson, bogart-bacall, robinson-trevor, robinson-barrymore, barrymore-the indians, robinson-nature, etc., but i just didn’t feel like they were supported well enough by the disappointing performances. the script had some moments, as did the direction.