Just slightly off key

Erin McKee charts a course for Classic Movie Mondays and sails into Key Largo.

We may not (yet?) have an independent or repertory cinema near St. John’s, but if you are crossing your fingers and wishing for one, the Seniors Resource Centre’s new fundraising idea, Classic Movie Mondays, might seem like it comes pretty close.

The first Monday of every month, Empire Theatres in Mt. Pearl Square will be showing big-budget Hollywood favourites from the ‘40s and ‘50s. If you missed out on movies such as East of Eden or From Here to Eternity the first time around, here’s your chance to see them in their intended setting on the big screen. And bring your nannies and poppies out to see the show—the Seniors Resource Centre offers free transportation for seniors in St. John’s, Kilbride, and Mt. Pearl.

1948’s Key Largo, showing on October 1st, stars big names Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson and others. Bogart, as good-guy war veteran Frank McCloud, shows up in Key Largo to visit the family of deceased comrade George Temple, only to discover that a smattering of gangsters and their associates have holed up at the Key Largo hotel, much to the frustration of proprietor James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) and Nora Temple (Bacall), George’s widow. Based on a play by Maxwell Anderson, much of the action takes place in one room of the hotel, the characters flitting about nervously as they wait out the hurricane raging outside.

While the stardom of Bogart and Bacall perhaps eclipses that of some of the other once-more-famous Hollywood actors in this film, Robinson is most memorable as rotten gangster Johnny Rocco, his wide lips clasped to a cigar as he stalks about the screen. Claire Trevor won an Oscar in 1949 for her performance as Rocco’s tipsy moll Gaye.

Despite a very manly face-slapping session and some entertaining gangsterly dialogue—an incapacitated policeman explains at one point, “I made a break for the door and the lights went out again,” to which one of the bad guys deadpans, “I’m the electrician”—Key Largo failed to thrill me as I’d hoped. Bogart and Bacall, married at the time of this film and ostensibly the romantic leads, don’t quite resonate as being all that intrigued by each other. Some potential plot leads are introduced but unfortunately don’t lead anywhere particularly interesting.

That said, there are some very nice scenes here, particularly the action-packed ending, and the performances are fun to watch (as I’m sure they were to act.)

For the upcoming film schedule and to find out about other services offered by the Seniors Resource Centre (such as the grocery bus, visiting program, or how to volunteer) see their website at ­seniorsresource.ca or call 737-2333 for more info. Classic Movie Mondays showings begin at 7pm. Tickets are $5.