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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Petrified Forest (1936)

A disillusioned somewhat cynical writer (Leslie Howard)  hitchhiking through the Arizona desert finds himself at a small diner where a young girl (Bette Davis) with artistic aspirations waits on tables. Meanwhile, a notorious fugitive killer (Humphrey Bogart) is reported to be in the vicinity as an approaching sandstorm heads their way. Based on the Broadway play by Robert Sherwood with Howard and Bogart repeating their stage roles and Archie Mayo in the director's chair. Its theatrical origins intact (this is one talky piece), the film is surprisingly engrossing just the same. Howard's reading of Sherwood's faux existentialist dialogue gets tiresome after awhile but the fresh Davis and the wound up Bogart (like a spring waiting to uncoil) provide some much needed keenness to their performances. Some nice supporting work by Charley Grapewin as Davis's grandfather and Genevieve Tobin as an unhappily married woman. With Dick Foran, Joe Sawyer, Porter Hall and Paul Harvey.

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