NOIRVEMBER FILM FEST #4: KEY LARGO

The final film for Noirvember 2014 is Key Largo, starring Edward G. Robinson as gangster Johnny Rocco, Lauren Bacall as widow, Nora Temple, and Bogart as war hero Frank McCloud. McCloud travels to Key Largo, Florida to tell the Temple family about the valor and bravery of George Temple, a fellow soldier who died in the war.

THE STORY & ITS THEME – IS THERE A HERO IN THE MODERN AGE

Frank McCloud travels to a small hotel down in Key Largo. He is there to converse with the family of a fellow soldier George Temple. Temple died in the war.
When McCloud arrives, he does not realize that the hotel has been overrun by a group of gangsters led by the notorious Johnny Rocco. Rocco and his boys are preparing to leave, but before they can leave, a hurricane blows in.
Rocco proceeds to terrorize McCloud, Temple’s father, James, and Temple’s wife Nora. McCloud and Rocco engage in a war of words and ideas. Eventually Rocco hands McCloud a gun and offers him a chance to duel. McCloud refuses to shoot it out with Rocco. But another man grabs the gun and Rocco shoots him.
Rocco taunts McCloud. And his fellow gangsters call him a coward. Frank even admits he didn’t pull the trigger because the only person he wanted to look out for was himself.
The storm blows through and just before it does Rocco’s boat disappears. Rocco demands McCloud pilot the remaining boat to Cuba. McCloud refuses. Rocco threatens him.
McCloud realizes that even though he desires to live only for himself, he cannot allow Rocco to get away. Rocco’s girlfriend steals a gun and gives it to McCloud. But McCloud gets on the boat and pilots it without resistance.
Once out to sea, McCloud finally makes his move. He knocks one gangster off the boat. Shoots another. Finally, the battle comes down to McCloud and Rocco. McCloud kills Rocco.
During the gunfight, Frank was shot. He radios for help. He’s patched through to hotel and speaks with Nora. She tells her father he is alright and coming back to the hotel.

The question the movie asks is if such a thing like heroism still exists in the modern age. At first it seems the answer is no. The only people willing to stand up and fight the gangsters are George Temple’s wheelchair bound father, and his wife. Both are powerless to stop the gangsters.
McCloud has the brains and the skill to fight but remains passive for most of the film. But, McCloud eventually stands up and fights the evil gangsters. Key Largo answers the question of heroism by saying, ‘Yes, as flawed as we all may be, heroes do still exist in the modern world.

THE CHARACTER FRANK MCCLOUD – A PICTURE OF SELFISHNESS & HEROISM

Key Largo is a movie centered in character weaknesses.
Rocco’s weakness is he quest for more.
Rocco’s girlfriend has a weakness for alcohol.
James Temple’s weakness is his physical decline (he can barely get around without a walker or a wheelchair).
And Frank’s weakness is his selfishness.
The entire movie is built around the question of whether Frank will confront the gangsters or if he will let them win out. At first it seems he will outwit them, but once his wits fail, he will not resort to action to stop the gangsters.
When the gangsters kill a police officer, Frank stands by and watches without action.
When Rocco terrorizes Nora Temple, Frank stands by and watches without action.
And at the end, it appears Frank will drive the boat for the gangster to escape without action.
But, even though Frank tells himself it is better to look out for number one, he knows he cannot lives by that code. A force greater than his selfishness sloth is at work in him. He wants the world to be rid of the kind of evil that Rocco represents. He knows that requires action. In the end, out on the Straits of Florida, McCloud makes his move and fights the gang to the death.
McCloud’s character shows us that we all battle the darkness of our selfishness. We all have to fight against these passive tendencies. And when we are tested, we find the true measure of our willingness to help others.

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