MILEPOSTS #995

By Ken Brafman, Image from Warner Brothers Archives

TITLE: MOUNTAIN MOVIES: HIGH SIERRA: This week’s image is of a movie poster for the film High Sierra from 1941, which has the distinction of having used four mountain area filming locations. After being released from prison, notorious thief Roy ‘Mad Dog’ Earle is hired by his old boss to help a group of hapless criminals plan and carry out the robbery of a California resort. Earle finds that the men have picked up a woman along the way, Marie, played by Ida Lupino, who got top billing. Also tagging along is a young woman named Velma. The heist takes place at the front desk of the Arrowhead Springs Hotel. Cornel Wilde has an early role as a cowardly desk clerk. When the robbery goes wrong and a man is shot and killed Earle is forced to go on the run, and with the police and an angry press hot on his tail the entourage eventually takes refuge among the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. With some scenes filmed in Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead, the majority of the camping scenes take place at Cedar Lake. High Sierra is an early example of what would become known as film noir. This film genre, always produced in black and white, depicted a moodiness, or darkness; an apprehension of doom. The style would remain popular through the 1950’s. The impending doom in this film involves the certain showdown, a shootout, but not before complications ensue that include medical issues, a car crash, and the inevitable romance clashes. The final scenes in the Sierra were referred to by director Raoul Walsh as having been the longest he had ever directed. Regarding Bogart, film historian Lee Cozad states in his book More Magnificent Mountain Movies, “By the time Bogart played ‘Mad Dog’ Earle, he had over forty film credits and would make sixty plus more films over the next two decades.”

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