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directed by Raoul Walsh
USA 1941


Widely acknowledged as one of the gangster pictures that paved the way for the style and moral complexities of film noir, High Sierra (1941) is the story of Roy "Mad Dog" Earle, a crook sprung from prison to perform a crucial heist. Saddled with inexperienced accomplices (played by character actors Alan Curtis and Arthur Kennedy, a Tony Award winner for his role in the original Death of a Salesman) and a dime-a-dance girl who falls for him (Ida Lupino, who would later become a noted director), Earle awaits instructions at a mountain cabin, planning to go straight after this last robbery. He befriends the family of a lame girl (Joan Leslie) and pays for her operation, orbiting the "pure" life he desires. Starring as the surly tough guy with a decent heart was the breakthrough vehicle for Humphrey Bogart who took the role after George Raft, unwilling to "die at the end", refused it. (It was also reported that Paul Muni was offered the role prior to Raft but was fired by Warner Brothers after he turned it down).

Earle was modeled on John Dillinger, but the Hollywood Production Code strictly prohibited glamorizing the thirties gangster legend. John Huston's script, based on W.R. Burnett's novel, was returned to Warners by the censors with over forty objectionable references. They were largely ignored by Jack Warner, who wanted to protect the "spirit" of the story. However, the Code was firm on the ending. Gangsters, no matter how sympathetic they might appear at times, had to pay for moral transgressions on the screen. In other words, death or life in prison was their only option....

Excerpt of review from TCM located HERE


Theatrical Release: 21 January 1941 (premiere)

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video - Region 1,4 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Warner Home Video

Region 1,4 - NTSC

Runtime 1:39:39

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• 'Curtains for Roy Earle: The Story of 'High Sierra'' featurette (15:06)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:39)

DVD Release Date: November 4, 2003
Snap case or Keep case

Chapters 27



With a scheduled release of Warner's Humphrey Bogart: The Essential Collection, we decided to revisit some of the titles now being released as part of that mega-set that we for some reason missed covering at DVDBeaver. One of the titles is High Sierra, a film noir classic directed by Raoul Walsh that was twice remade - I Died a Thousand Times and Colorado Territory - a Western directed by Walsh himself. The film was released on DVD back in November of 2003 in a snapper case. In 2006, Warner repackaged the disc is a keep case, but the disc's contents remain the same.

The progressive transfer didn't receive extensive restoration, so there are still many scratches and marks, but they are not overly distracting. The image is grainy in some scenes. The English mono soundtrack is decent and there are English, Spanish and French optional subtitles available. Extras consist of a brief featurette about the making of the film and a theatrical trailer. This is a still a recommended release of an important film noir classic.

  - Gregory Meshman


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Warner Home Video

Region 1,4 - NTSC



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