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  1. High Sierra 1941
    Note my quote from a NY review as a fitting end of a death in futility to the gangster genre of noir movies. He is heading toward an inexorable death
    As a matter of fact—and aside from the virtues of the film itself—it is rather touching to behold the Warners pay such a glowing tribute, for no one has made a better thing out of the legendary gangster than they have. No one has greater reason to grow nostalgic about the bad boys of yesterday who, as one of the characters in “High Sierra” reverently remarks, are “all either dead or doing time now in Alcatraz.” So, indeed, we are deeply moved by this honest payment of respects to an aging and graying veteran of the Nineteen Thirty banditti who makes his last stand his best. Somehow, it seems quite fitting.

    Of course, that is exactly the way the Warners and every one concerned intended it should seem. For the story which is told is that of a notorious hold-up man who is sprung out of an Illinois prison by an old gangland pal who wants him in California for a big job. But the gunman has got some ideas about freedom and the joy of living. He wants to marry a simple little girl he meets on the road heading West; he wants to do good things because, you see, he really has a good heart.

    Well, you know what that means. It’s just as old “Doc” Banton tells him (“Doc” being the quack who tends “Big Mac”). He says, “Remember what Johnny Dillinger said about guys like you and him; he said you’re just rushing toward death—that’s it, you’re rushing toward death.” And that’s the truth. For the big holdup job gets messed up by a couple of “jitterbugs” who are assisting on it, the girl turns out a great disappointment, the gunman is rendered a fugitive with a moll and a dog who love him and finally he is brought to bay on that peak in the High Sierras. And there he dies gallantly. It’s a wonder the American flag wasn’t wrapped about his broken corpse.

    As gangster pictures go, this one has everything?—speed, excitement, suspense and that ennobling suggestion of futility which makes for irony and pity. Mr. Bogart plays the leading role with a perfection of hard-boiled vitality, and Ida Lupino, Arthur Kennedy, Alan Curtis and a newcomer named Joan Leslie handle lesser roles effectively. Especially, is Miss Lupino impressive as the adoring moll. As gangster pictures go—if they do— it’s a perfect epilogue. Count on the old guard and Warners: they die but never surrender.

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