Key Largo (1948)

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Released 4-Sep-2000

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1948
Running Time 96:18
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Huston
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Edward G. Robinson
Lauren Bacall
Lionel Barrymore
Claire Trevor
Thomas Gomez
John Rodney
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Max Steiner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Key Largo is another great Humphrey Bogart film, and the last from the recent batch to be released from Warner Home Video to make it through my DVD player for review. Whilst Key Largo is by no means the greatest film Bogey ever made, it is an enjoyable little romp that showcased three great actors: Bogey, Lauren Bacall and Edward G. Robinson. This also shows a slightly different side to Bogey, a more vulnerable character that really expanded the range of the great man.

    Major Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) has returned from the war, and on his way to Key West he decides to stop off and visit the father and widow of a late friend from the war. James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) runs the Largo Hotel, with the help of daughter-in-law Nora (Lauren Bacall) and are grateful to meet the best friend of the late George Temple. However, the timing of the visit is not exactly the greatest, with a hurricane bearing down on the Keys, and the hotel being taken over by mobster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson) and his henchmen. Johnny Rocco is making an illegal visit to the United States, as he has been deported as an undesirable and is now based out of Cuba, in order to dispose of some counterfeit notes. Holed up in the Largo Hotel, with his business associates prevented from reaching the Keys owing to the hurricane, Johnny goes a little stir crazy and threatens the unwitting detainees. McCloud needs to keep everything together in order to ensure that everyone not only survives the hurricane but survives the ruthless attitude of Johnny Rocco.

    Despite the fairly restricted scope of the setting in a hotel, Key Largo presents an opportunity for a bit of character development that we rarely get to see in films these days. Whilst the characters get just a tad clichéd at times, this is a very nice character-driven effort that does not drag at all. This was not quite the sizzling screen partnership of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall of say The Big Sleep, but adds another dimension to their relationship. Lionel Barrymore is quite droll and cutting as the invalid hotel owner, but this film really scores with the great Edward G. Robinson in the role of the bad guy. One of the greatest bad guy actors to ever grace the silver screen, there is a certain menacing appeal to his character, balanced by just a little uncertainty. Claire Trevor as Johnny's lush of a girlfriend is thoroughly convincing and walked away from the 1949 Oscars with the Best Supporting Actress statue. This is a reunion of sorts for John Huston and Humphrey Bogart, as they once again combine for this particular film - one of many that they made together. This is another tight piece of direction from Huston, making the most of the talents of the great team he had at his disposal.

    Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson in a film together? What more do you need? Add in Lauren Bacall, an Oscar-winning performance from Claire Trevor and the great Lionel Barrymore and this is really a classic film that commands inclusion in any comprehensive film collection.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Of the three Bogart films through my player this weekend, this is by far the most consistent transfer, but even so it is not without its problems.

    The transfer is presented in the original Full Frame format, and it is of course not 16x9 enhanced. The packaging claims that this is a 1.85:1 transfer, which is completely false.

    This transfer may not be the sharpest that I have ever seen, but it has a very nice consistency to it that has thus far eluded most black and white films that have made their way through my player. The only real lapses were the inevitable soft focus shots involving Lauren Bacall. The detail is pretty good throughout, although this is to be expected given the relatively simple setting of the film. Shadow detail is also generally quite good, far better than I was expecting. Clarity is pretty good throughout and this never seemed to be any sort of problem here. There were no real problems with grain throughout the transfer, and low level noise did not seem to be much of a problem either.

    Whilst this does not display the ultimate in the depth of the black and white tones in the film, the overall result is quite decent and does not descend into any sort of murkiness. The transfer is quite consistent in its presentation and this is an eminently watchable transfer.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any serious problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, but minor aliasing was occasionally noted. The film is somewhat afflicted with film artefacts, but apart from some rather obvious blotches in general they were not especially distracting to the film.

    It should be noted that the transfer is heavily windowboxed within the frame, but this did not create any problem on my television as it is almost totally hidden by overscan.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack, a French Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack and an Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 mono soundtrack. I stuck with the English default.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand throughout.

    There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The musical score once again comes from Max Steiner. This is definitely one of his more memorable efforts and it really helps to keep the film flowing along at a nice pace.

    This is quite a decent monaural soundtrack and does a fine job. There is little to really worry about here as far as problems are concerned, the main issue being some slightly recessed dialogue on a few short occasions. There are no major flaws as far as distortion or congestion are concerned, and this is a quite clean-sounding mono soundtrack that is not in any way raw. There is no surround channel use or bass channel use at all. The soundtrack has been transferred at a decent level without any false boosting of aspects of the sound for emphasis' sake, with the result that this is a very natural sounding mono soundtrack that conveys the feeling of the film pretty well indeed. It is pleasing to note that there has been no major remastering here so that the feeling of the film remains very much as I suspect it did on initial release all those years ago.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Again, a little on the disappointing side. Note that once again the packaging shows a screen capture for the Region 1 release of the film and not the Region 4 release.

Menu

    Somewhat perversely for a purely black and white film, we are blessed with what seems to look like a colorized black and white menu! Whilst it is a little incongruous, it is nonetheless nicely themed.

Theatrical Trailer (2:20)

    A rather nice little effort, if suffering just a little from film artefacts. It is presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There would appear to be no real difference between the two versions, so the region of choice would be Region 4.

Summary

    Key Largo is a great way to finish this little voyage through the films of Humphrey Bogart, and I hope that we see some more real soon. Whilst it would be nice if a little more serious restoration work had been done on all the films, this suffers the least in this regard and I would encourage you to indulge in this effort.

    A good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A poorish extras package.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Sunday, September 17, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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