Review (Time Out Film Guide)
A momentous gangster movie which took the genre out of its urban surroundings into the bleak sierras, and in so doing marked its transition into film noir. It isn’t just that Bogart’s Mad Dog Earle is a man ‘rushing towards death’, infallibly doomed and knowing it, from the moment he is paroled and through the half-hearted hold-up to his last stand on the mountainside. He also in a sense wills his own destruction, his dark despair fuelled by the betrayal of an innocent, clubfooted country girl whose operation he pays for, and who casually abandons him as soon as she can ‘have fun’. Terrific performances, terrific camerawork (Tony Gaudio), terrific dialogue (John Huston and WR Burnett from the latter’s novel), with Walsh – who in fact reworked the material as Colorado Territory eight years later – giving it something of the memorable melancholy of a Peckinpah Western.
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