Friday, May 12, 2017

Script review - "Key Largo" by John Huston and Richard Brooks (warning: spoilers)

The Petrified Forest done after the war with a heavy dose of UN smarmy-ness. McLeod is a drifter who turns up at a hotel at Key Largo during the off season - he wants to meet the father and widow of his dead war friend.

The father Temple is an old bore, crapping on about his dead son, being this "wonderful" paterfamilias to the simpleton Indians (there was a lot of casual racism in Huston films), and abusing the gangsters when they point guns at him, telling Rocco he's a vermit who should be killed (as if).

The widow Norah slaps the gangster and makes eyes at McLeod pretty quickly. McLeod (in the script the spelling is "M'Leod") has some awful speeches where he quotes someone on the war, and whines about how things were hard when it got back. You could seriously cut Norah out of the film - her main thing is to help McLeod be honourable, but Temple could do that, whiny old fart that he is. I suppose you could have kept Norah and lost Temple. You wouldn't have had Temple being wise about the Indians but who cares.

The script is better on it's villains - Rocco, the once great gangster on hard times, his trio of gunmen (Toots, who just wants to tell jokes; Curly who wants people to join him for a drink), and most of all Gayle, his alcoholic moll who Rocco forces to sing. The last act, where McLeod overcomes the baddies on the boat is quite exciting. The subplot where two Indians are on the lam and are shot by local cop Ben is depressing - I kept expecting the baddies to do it, and sure they help give Ben the wrong impression, but it's still Ben.

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