High Sierra (1941)

bogart and lupino
Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart

''High Sierra' is a gangster adventure movie made in 1941, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, Alan Curtis and Joan Leslie. The screenplay is by John Huston, based on W.R. Burnett's novel of the same name. It is a landmark movie in that, whilst appearing to be a conventional Warner Bros 1930's gangster film, it shows its characters being tossed around by the giant hand of fate, and with a main character who knows his life is on a path toward destruction but is not able to change his fate, the movie takes a giant step towards the emerging genre of film noir.

'High Sierra' tells the story of gangster Roy Earle who is paroled after a lengthy prison term. However his parole has been arranged so that Earle can mastermind a big-time heist at a California resort hotel. A security guard interrupts the heist. Earle is forced to go on the run, and after an exciting car chase with the police and an angry press close behind, he eventually holes up among the peaks of the Sierra Nevadas, where after a tense siege he is killed by a police marksman.

The movie marked an important career turning point for Humphrey Bogart and and raised him to Hollywood stardom. It was his most substantial role to date and enabled him to play and interpret a character much more complex and multi-dimensional than previous gangster villains. Roy Earle is a man who lives in two parallel worlds, the real, vicious one he inhabits and must cope with, exemplified by the sluttish Marie (Ida Lupino) and the fantasy one he longs for and sees in the crippled girl (Joan Leslie) he so tenderly loves.

'High Sierra' begins and ends with the prominent peak of Mount Whitney, which appears throughout the film, its presence beckoning the hero to his lonely fate.

Main Cast

Ida Lupino ... Marie
Humphrey Bogart ... Roy Earle
Alan Curtis ... Babe
Arthur Kennedy ... Red
Joan Leslie ... Velma
Henry Hull ... Doc Banton
Henry Travers ... Pa
Jerome Cowan ... Healy
Minna Gombell ... Mrs. Baughmam
Barton MacLane ... Jake Kranmer
Elisabeth Risdon ... Ma
Cornel Wilde ... Louis Mendoza
Donald MacBride ... Big Mac
Paul Harvey ... Mr. Baughmam
Isabel Jewell ... Blonde
Willie Best ... Algernon
Spencer Charters ... Ed
George Meeker ... Pfiffer


Director ... Raoul Walsh
Producer ... Mark Hellinger
Distribution Company ... Warner Bros.
Written by ... Story: W.R. Burnett
Screenplay ... John Huston, W.R. Burnett
Music ... Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography ... Tony Gaudio
Format ... B & W
Release date ... January 21, 1941
Running time ... 100 minutes

Academy Awards

No Nominations: