Dark Passage (1947): Bogart and Bacall’s Third Teaming, Delmer Daves’ Film Noir

Dark Passage, the third of four films that real-life couple Bogart and Bacall (“Bogey and Baby”) had made together, is a film noir directed by Delmer Daves, based on the novel of the same name by David Goodis.

Dark Passage
Dark Passage (film) poster.jpg


At the time, Bogart, who had not won an Oscar yet but was nominated (for Casablanca), was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, earning $450,000 a year.

Most scenes in the first act from the point of view of Bogart’s character, Vincent Parry, a man hiding from the law in effort to clear his name of murder.  Robert Montgomery, the director of the 1946 noir Lady in the Lake, was one of the first to use subjective camera, in which the viewers see the folding of the action through the protagonist’s perspective


Narrative Structure (Detailed Plot)

Convicted of killing his wife, Vincent Parry escapes from San Quentin prison by stowing away in a supply truck. He evades police and hitches a ride with a motorist named Baker. Parry’s odd clothes and a news report on the radio about an escaped convict make Baker suspicious. When questioned, Parry beats him.

Irene Jansen, who had been painting nearby, picks up Parry and smuggles him into San Francisco, offering him shelter in her flat.

Madge, an acquaintance of Irene, stops by the place, and it turns out that she had an affair with Parry before he spurned her. In revenge, she testified at his trial, providing a motive as to why he would have killed his wife.

Showing interest in miscarriages of justice, Irene had followed Parry’s case, because her own father had been falsely convicted of murder, and now she believes that Parry is innocent.

Sam, a sympathetic car driver gives Parry the name of a plastic surgeon to change his appearance. Parry stays with a friend, George Fellsinger, during his recovery from surgery. Dr. Coley performs the operation, but Parry is unable to speak, and with his face in bandages, he returns to George’s apartment only to find his friend murdered. He stumbles back to Irene’s house, and she nurses him back to health.

Madge and Bob, who is romantically interested in Irene, come by. Madge is worried that Parry will kill her for testifying against him and asks to stay with Irene. Irene gets rid of Madge and tells Bob she’s in love with Parry.

Recuperating, Parry realizes he is now wanted for the murder of George as his fingerprints are found on the killing weapon, George’s trumpet.  Parry parts from Irene, holding she will be better off without him.

At a diner, an undercover policeman becomes suspicious because of Parry’s behavior.  Back at his hotel, Parry is surprised by Baker, who holds him at gunpoint. Baker, who has been following Parry, demands that Irene pay him $60,000 or he will inform on Parry. Parry agrees, and Baker obliges him to drive the two of them to Irene’s apartment. Claiming to take a shortcut, Parry drives to a secluded spot under the Golden Gate Bridge, where he disarms Baker. Questioning him, Parry believes that Madge is behind the deaths of his wife and George. In a fight, Baker falls to his death.

dark_passage_3_bacall_bogartGoing to Madge, who doesn’t recognize him, he reveals his true identity and accuses Madge of having killed both his wife and George. She refuses to confess, and while turning away from him, she falls through a window to her death.

Fearing that he will now be accused of Madge’s murder as well, Parry plans to flee to Mexico and then South America.  He calls Irene, revealing his plans, and the film ends with Parry having a drink in a nightclub in Peru, spotting Irene there.

Locations Shooting








Parts of the movie were shot on location in San Francisco, including the Filbert Steps and the cable car system. The elegant Streamline Moderne Malloch Building on Telegraph Hill was used for the apartment of Irene Jansen where Parry hides out. The diner “Harry’s Wagon” was at 1921 Post Street, in the Fillmore District of San Francisco.

Made on a budget of $1.6 million, Dark Passage was a commercial hit, earning 3.4 million at the box-office.


Humphrey Bogart as Vincent Parry








Lauren Bacall as Irene Jansen

Bruce Bennett as Bob

Agnes Moorehead as Madge Rapf

Clifton Young as Baker

Douglas Kennedy as Detective in Diner

Rory Mallinson as George Fellsinger

Houseley Stevenson as Dr. Coley

Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by Jerry Wald
Screenplay by Delmer Daves, based on Dark Passage by David Goodis
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Sidney Hickox
Edited by David Weisbart

Production and distribution company: Warner Bros.

Release date September 5, 1947 (premiere, NYC); September 27, 1947 (US)
Running time 106 minutes
Budget $1.6 million
Box office $3.4 million