Dark Passagei is a short hop skip an' a jump straight into Plot Hole Central.
The movie makes no fucking sense whatsoever, it's not a matter of fridge logic, it's more the case everyone ever involved in any capacity with this script was never in their whole life sober for five god damned straight minutes. Get a load of this absurdity extrusion : a man breaks out of San Quentin. By himself. He just makes it into a barel and out the gate atop an open bed truck, not even a lid on the damned thing. Nobody's waiting for him. He's got no change of clothes. Nothing. Some woman picks him up, who was all into him during the trial but somehow magically abstained from writing him weekly letters in jail, notwithstanding she coincidentally is right there in the foothills and runs over to pick him up, so they don't keep her house under surveillance at any point (notwithstanding the indetecting "detectives" are sewn so thick into the woodwork, they harass poor vagrants in derelict diners at the wee hours of the morning). Then a cab driver takes him to the best facial reconstruction surgeon in town, which genuinely exists in the 1940s, and which is just naturally within the acquaintance horizon of the average cabbie -- who incidentally wants nothing for this, not even a tip, he just did it for the love of a stranger's eyes. Also speaking of eyes, the work's gonna "mostly focus around the eyes", easily the hardest bit of skin to operate upon, but also a) the part that's left without any bandaging and b) the only part that's still functional, such that the man can't gesture but has to blink his agreement once off the magic chair. Oh and also, the doctor wouldn't have done if he were a real killer (which he can judge presumably by the mug's mug) and the bandaids have to come off after one week, just like that, no further anything involved. And then everyone just falls from heights to their death by accident of convenience.
It's a mess ; but the portion leading in, filmed in first person, oozes a certain tension, a dark gritty voltage anticipating both Hitchcock, the videogame and gonzo pornography. The underlying substance's very directly and self-obviously noir, and the failure has the merit of describing and exposing more deeply and cleanly that conceit than more artful, composed and therefore convincing offerings. You get some understanding of human anatomy from watching ballerinas for hours, but you get a lot more from one glimpse of a compound fracture poking through the skin -- failure's more instructive than function.
Bacall's indeed very pretty, facially, and they never film anything else practically speaking ; Moorehead's exceptional in the role of the proud, argutious womanii, perhaps her very best role, minute for minute.
There's worse things to do in bed than watch this thing. Then again, there's also better.———
- 1947, by Delmer Daves, with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead. [↩]
- And also very well illustrates, in just a few strokes, the period function and functioning of the "sporting" girl, the wanton slut. Once she's made it in a black book all the friends' friends of friends etc will come a'knocking one evening or other ; but her suggestive usage of the kneeling pillow right there underhand specifically for the purpose's strictly masterful.
Yes, darlings, your 1940s great-granny was way the fuck more deft and sexually adept than you are today. "Progress" and "technology" ain't gonna suck it for you, aite ? [↩]