Roxie Combs

Written by Roxie Combs

Modified & Updated: 02 Mar 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The movie Key Largo is a timeless classic that is cherished by movie enthusiasts and fans of the film noir genre. Released in 1948, it was directed by the legendary John Huston and boasted a stellar cast that included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson. Set in the Florida Keys, the film is a gripping tale of suspense, crime, and morality.

In this article, we will delve into 31 fascinating facts about the movie Key Largo, shedding light on its production, behind-the-scenes trivia, and its lasting impact on cinematic history. From the intense performances to the atmospheric setting, Key Largo continues to captivate audiences with its compelling narrative and memorable characters.

Key Takeaways:

  • Key Largo, a classic crime thriller, was based on a successful play and features intense hurricane scenes, iconic performances, and timeless themes, making it a must-watch for all movie enthusiasts.
  • The film explores power dynamics, morality, and the psychological impact of wartime experiences, while showcasing the enduring influence of film noir on popular culture and future crime thrillers.
Table of Contents

The film is based on a play

Key Largo was adapted from a successful 1939 play of the same name written by Maxwell Anderson. The play won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play and was critically acclaimed.

Real-life inspiration

The character of Johnny Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, was rumored to be inspired by notorious gangster Al Capone.

Onscreen reunion

Key Largo marked the fourth and final collaboration between real-life couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Their chemistry onscreen became iconic in the 1940s.

An Academy Award-winning performance

Claire Trevor, who portrayed the character of Gaye Dawn, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her outstanding performance in Key Largo.

A tale of isolation

The majority of the film takes place in a hotel, making it a uniquely confined and isolated setting.

Intense hurricane scenes

The climax of the movie features dramatic scenes of a hurricane, filmed using a combination of real footage and special effects.

Incorporation of Florida Keys culture

The movie successfully captures the essence of Florida Keys culture, highlighting the unique blend of Caribbean and Southern influences.

Ironic title

Despite the title, a significant portion of the movie is not actually set in Key Largo but rather in the hotel.

Critically acclaimed screenplay

The script for Key Largo was written by Richard Brooks and John Huston and received high praise for its sharp dialogue and engaging storyline.

Tense atmosphere

Key Largo is known for its intense and suspenseful atmosphere, creating a sense of claustrophobia throughout the film.

Imaginative camera work

The cinematography in Key Largo was innovative for its time, with creative camera angles and lighting techniques used to enhance the mood and tension.

The film’s significance during the post-war period

Released just a few years after World War II, Key Largo reflected the anxieties and tensions of the era, exploring themes of morality, redemption, and societal corruption.

Award-winning director

John Huston, the director of Key Largo, was highly regarded in the film industry and received numerous accolades throughout his career, including an Academy Award for Best Director.

Memorable quotes

The movie is known for its memorable quotes, including “You don’t like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don’t you? If it doesn’t stop, shoot it” and “One inside the house, two outside, three men and a woman. You say you can handle it, alright, prove it.”

Humphrey Bogart’s iconic performance

Bogart delivered a powerful and nuanced performance as Frank McCloud, earning him critical acclaim and further solidifying his place as one of Hollywood’s greatest actors.

The symbolism of the keys

The Florida Keys represent a metaphorical barrier between good and evil throughout the film, emphasizing the characters’ struggle to overcome their circumstances.

The film’s enduring popularity

Key Largo has stood the test of time and continues to be beloved by film enthusiasts around the world, remaining a benchmark for captivating storytelling and exceptional acting.

A compelling exploration of morality

The movie delves into the complex moral choices faced by the characters, forcing them to confront their own values and the consequences of their actions.

Ode to classic film noir

Key Largo pays homage to the classic film noir genre, with its dark and brooding atmosphere, morally ambiguous characters, and gritty narrative.

Popular culture references

Key Largo has been referenced and parodied in various popular culture works, highlighting its enduring influence on cinema and media.

Film preservation efforts

The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, recognizing its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.

A study of power dynamics

Key Largo explores the dynamics of power and control, as the characters navigate through tense situations and confront personal demons.

Musical contributions

The film features a haunting musical score composed by Max Steiner, known for his work in other classic films such as Gone with the Wind.

The moral ambiguity of the characters

Key Largo presents a morally complex cast of characters, blurring the lines between hero and villain and forcing viewers to question their own judgments.

Feminist undertones

The character of Nora Temple, played by Lauren Bacall, showcases strength and resilience, subtly challenging traditional gender roles of the time.

The psychological impact of wartime experiences

The film explores the psychological toll of war, as Frank McCloud confronts his past and grapples with the traumas of combat.

A cautionary tale

Key Largo serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked power and the consequences of succumbing to corruption.

The legacy of film noir

Key Largo remains a significant contribution to the film noir genre, adding to the rich tapestry of dark and atmospheric storytelling.

A classic ensemble cast

The movie boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with standout performances from actors such as Lionel Barrymore and Thomas Gomez.

Cultural impact

Key Largo had a lasting impact on cinema, influencing future crime thrillers and noir films, and inspiring filmmakers with its compelling narrative and atmospheric setting.

Timeless themes

The movie’s exploration of themes such as redemption, loyalty, and the complexities of human nature resonates with audiences of all generations, ensuring its timeless appeal.

In conclusion, Key Largo remains a true cinematic masterpiece, blending gripping storytelling, masterful performances, and atmospheric visuals. Its enduring legacy solidifies its place in film history and guarantees its continued admiration by fans of the crime thriller genre. Whether you are a longtime fan or discovering it for the first time, Key Largo is an absolute must-watch that will captivate and enthrall you from beginning to end.


Key Largo is a classic film that has captivated audiences for decades. With its all-star cast, gripping storyline, and memorable characters, it continues to be a favorite among movie lovers. The film’s setting in the Florida Keys adds a unique element to the story, creating a sense of isolation and tension. Key Largo also explores themes of heroism, sacrifice, and the struggle between good and evil.

From Humphrey Bogart’s unforgettable performance as Frank McCloud to Lauren Bacall’s charismatic presence as Nora Temple, the movie showcases incredible acting talent. The dynamic between the characters and their interactions create a palpable sense of suspense and drama that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Key Largo remains a timeless masterpiece that showcases the brilliance of director John Huston. Its rich cinematography, atmospheric soundtrack, and thought-provoking narrative make it a must-watch for any film enthusiast. Whether you’re a fan of classic cinema or simply looking for an engaging movie experience, Key Largo will leave a lasting impression.


1. Who directed the movie Key Largo?
Key Largo was directed by John Huston.

2. When was the movie Key Largo released?
Key Largo was released in 1948.

3. Who were the main actors in Key Largo?
The main actors in Key Largo were Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson.

4. What is the plot of Key Largo?
Key Largo follows a war veteran who visits a hotel in the Florida Keys and gets caught up in a battle against a gangster and his henchmen during a hurricane.

5. Is Key Largo based on a book?
Yes, Key Largo is based on a play of the same name by Maxwell Anderson.

6. What is the significance of the movie’s setting in Key Largo?
The setting of Key Largo adds to the atmosphere and tension of the film. The isolation of being trapped on an island during a hurricane heightens the sense of danger and suspense.

7. Does Key Largo have any iconic scenes?
Yes, Key Largo is known for its intense and famous scene where Humphrey Bogart’s character confronts Edward G. Robinson’s character in a tense standoff.

8. Was Key Largo a critical and commercial success?
Yes, Key Largo received critical acclaim and was a box office success, further solidifying its status as a classic film.

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