Key Largo

Key Largo Information

Key Largo is a 1948 film noir directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall and featuring Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor. The movie was adapted by Richard Brooks and Huston from Maxwell Anderson's 1939 play of the same name, which played on Broadway for 105 performances in 1939 and 1940.

Key Largo was the fourth and final film pairing of married actors Bogart and Bacall. Trevor won the 1948 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance.


Ex-Major Frank McCloud (Humphrey Bogart) arrives at the Hotel Largo in Key Largo, Florida, where he meets the proprietors James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) and Nora Temple (Lauren Bacall). James Temple was the father-in-law of widow Nora Temple. George Temple, Nora Temple's husband and James Temple's son, died in Italy, during the Second World War, when he was in Frank's unit. Because it is late in the season, and because a hurricane is approaching, the hotel currently has only six guests: the dapper Toots (Harry Lewis), the boorish Curly (Thomas Gomez), stone-faced Ralph (William Haade), servant Angel (Dan Seymour), an attractive woman, Gaye Dawn (Claire Trevor), and a sixth man who has remained secluded in his room. They claim to have come to the Florida Keys for a fishing trip.

Rebuffing Curly's attempts to engage him in conversation, Frank meets with Nora and James Temple. He tells them where George is buried, and recounts George's heroism under fire. Nora seems taken with Frank, stating that George frequently mentioned Frank in his letters. The three begin preparing the hotel for the coming hurricane, but are interrupted by Sheriff Ben Wade (Monte Blue) and his deputy, Sawyer (John Rodney), who are looking for the Osceola brothers, a pair of Native Americans who escaped from custody after being arrested on minor charges. Temple promises the lawmen that he will use his influence with the local Indians to get the boys to surrender. Soon after the police leave, the local Seminoles show up seeking shelter at the hotel and also the Osceola brothers.

With the storm approaching, Curly, Ralph, Angel and Toots pull guns and take the Temples and Frank hostage. They explain that the sixth member of their party is notorious gangster Johnny Rocco (Edward G. Robinson), who was exiled to Cuba some years before for being an undesirable alien. The gang discovered Sawyer looking about and knocked him unconscious. As they are held at gunpoint, Temple lets go a stream of insults toward Rocco, who responds by taunting Temple, explaining how he will one day return to prominence. At one point Rocco gives Frank a pistol and offers to fight a duel with him, but Frank declines, stating that he believes in self-preservation over heroics and that "one Rocco more or less isn't worth dying for." Sawyer grabs the gun and tries to escape, but Rocco shoots him; in the gunplay it becomes apparent that the gun which Rocco gave to Frank was not loaded.

Rocco intends to hold the Temples and Frank hostage until his American contacts from Miami arrive to conclude a deal. As the storm rages, the Seminoles, usually sheltered in the hotel in storms, huddle outside as Rocco and his company worry about storm damage and insist the Indians stay outside. Rocco forces Gaye, his former moll, to sing for them and then berates her for her poor performance and fading looks. Nora reveals to Frank that she knows that the story he told earlier about her husband's heroism was false and that Frank was the real hero. Mr. Temple invites Frank to come live with them at the hotel, a prospect that seems to intrigue Nora.

After the storm subsides, Sheriff Ben Wade shows up looking for Sawyer, who had telephoned from the hotel before the hurricane. Temple is forced by Rocco to lie and say that he has not seen the deputy, but as Wade is leaving he discovers Sawyer's corpse floating in the water nearby where the hurricane had left it (Rocco's men had taken the body into deeper water and thrown it overboard). Rocco blames the killing on the Osceola brothers, whom Wade then confronts in the nearby boathouse and kills.

After Wade leaves with Sawyer's body, Rocco's contact Ziggy (Marc Lawrence) arrives to conclude the deal. Rocco sells Ziggy a large amount of counterfeit money and then forces Frank, who has skills as a seaman, to take him and his henchmen back to Cuba on a small boat belonging to the hotel (the captain of the luxurious yacht they arrived on has moved it to deeper water to escape storm damage). Rocco pays James Temple for the stay and has his henchmen gather everyone's bags except for Gaye's and tells her he will not be taking her to Cuba with him and gives her some money for expenses. Nora and Gaye try to convince Frank to make a break for safety once he is outside the hotel, but he agrees to take the men to Cuba. Gaye appears to make a last-ditch attempt to convince Rocco to take her with him and uses the embrace to steal Rocco's gun, which she then manages to pass on to Frank. Out on the ocean, Frank manages to knock Ralph overboard and then kills the other henchmen, receiving a minor wound himself. Johnny Rocco tries to trick Frank that he is giving up and throws out one of the other henchman's guns on the ship deck, but Frank is not fooled and shoots Rocco as he comes up with his gun ready to shoot. Frank radios for help and pilots the boat back to Key Largo, and asks if they can put him through to the hotel. Meanwhile, Nora, Temple and Gaye tell Sheriff Ben Wade the truth, and he also learns that Ziggy and his mob have been apprehended by state police. As Temple and Wade lament the loss of the Osceola brothers, Gaye reassures them that Rocco bears the blame. As Wade and Gaye leave to identify Ziggy and his men, Temple and Nora receive Frank's call and are delighted that he is coming back.


  • Humphrey Bogart as Maj. Frank McCloud
  • Edward G. Robinson as Johnny Rocco/Howard Brown
  • Lauren Bacall as Nora Temple
  • Lionel Barrymore as James Temple
  • Claire Trevor as Gaye Dawn
  • Thomas Gomez as Richard "Curly" Hoff
  • Harry Lewis as Edward "Toots" Bass
  • John Rodney as Deputy Sheriff Clyde Sawyer
  • Marc Lawrence as Ziggy
  • Dan Seymour as Angel Garcia
  • Monte Blue as Sheriff Ben Wade
  • William Haade as Ralph Feeney
  • Jay Silverheels as John Osceola
  • Rodd Redwing as Tom Osceola
John Rodney and Lauren Bacall are the only surviving cast members.

Cast notes

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were in four films together:


The script was adapted from a 1939 play by Maxwell Anderson. In the play, the gangsters are Mexican bandidos, the war in question is the Spanish Civil War, and Frank is a disgraced deserter who dies at the end.

Robinson had top billing over Bogart in their four previous films together: Bullets or Ballots (1936), Kid Galahad (1937), The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) and Brother Orchid (1940). For this movie, however, Robinson's name appears to the right of Bogart's, but placed a little higher on the posters, and also in the film's opening credits, to indicate Robinson's near-equal status. Robinson's image was also markedly larger and centered on the original poster, with Bogart relegated to the background. In the film's trailer, Bogart is repeatedly mentioned first but Robinson's name is listed above Bogart's in a cast list at the end.

Exterior shots of the hurricane were taken from stock footage used in Night Unto Night, a Ronald Reagan melodrama which Warner Bros. also produced in 1948.

The boat used by Rocco's gang to depart Key Largo, with Bogart's character at the helm, is named the Santana, which was also the name of Bogart's personal 55-foot (17 m) sailing yacht.


A high point of the film comes when Robinson's alcoholic former moll, ex-nightclub singer "Gaye Dawn", played by Claire Trevor, is forced by Rocco to sing a song a capella before he will allow her to have a drink. Trevor was nervous about the scene, and assumed that she would be lip-syncing to someone else's voice. She kept after director Huston, wanting to rehearse the song, but he put her off, saying "There's plenty of time," until one afternoon he told her that they would shoot the film right then, without any rehearsal. She was given her starting note from a piano, and, in front of the rest of the cast and the crew, sang the song. It was this raw take that was used in the film.

Author Philip Furia said about the song, 'Moanin' Low': "[it's] about a woman who's trapped in a relationship with a very cruel man. And ... you see [Trevor as Gaye] realize that that's exactly her real life situation. [Trevor's performance] slowly break[s] down, and her voice falters and she sings off key." Robinson is dismissive but "Bogart pours her a stiff drink, walks it over ... under gunpoint ... and gives it to her and says 'You deserve this'"?it's just a great dramatic scene, [and] it's a wonderful use of a song in a non-musical picture. [Trevor] won [the Academy Award] based purely, I think, on that performance."

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

  • Claire Trevor won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Gaye Dawn.
American Film Institute

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains: Johnny Rocco - Nominated Villain
  • AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Gangster Film

In popular culture

  • The 1981 song "Key Largo", by singer-songwriter Bertie Higgins, draws heavily on influences from the film. This song hit the Top 10 on the pop chart in the United States and went to #1 on the adult contemporary chart.
  • One scene in the "Vapors" episode of seaQuest DSV during the second season showed characters Tim O'Neill and Lonnie Henderson coming out of an interactive theme park version of the film.

See also

  • List of films featuring home invasions

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Key_Largo_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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