FILM 1596: KEY LARGO
TRIVIA: In a classic case of a director being emotionally manipulative, John Huston informed Claire Trevor that they were to film her song that very day. Trevor was not a trained singer, and had not even rehearsed the song yet. She also felt very intimidated by the A-list actors seated directly in front of her. The result was a hesitant, nervous, uncomfortable rendition, exactly the feeling Huston was hoping to get.
In the film, James Temple describes the 1935 hurricane that devastated Matacumbe Key. This was one of worst hurricanes in U.S. history and many of the victims of the storm were World War I veterans who were building the Florida Keys portion of U.S. Highway 1, also known as the Overseas Highway. A portion of the highway is seen in the film's opening. The storm also produced the lowest-ever recorded barometric pressure over land in the North American continent.
The character of Johnny Rocco was modeled on Al Capone, who retired to Florida and died there of complications due to advanced syphilis a year before this film was produced. Screenwriter Richard Brooks later revealed he had also incorporated biographical details about another famous gangster, Lucky Luciano, into Rocco's character as well.
Fourth and final film pairing of Humphrey Bogart and his wife Lauren Bacall. A fifth film was planned several years later, but Bogart died before it could be made.
The ramshackle hotel where most of the drama unfolds was constructed on the Warner Bros. lot along with the beach area. Exterior shots of the hurricane were actually taken from stock footage used in Night Unto Night (1949), a Ronald Reagan melodrama made the same year at Warner Bros.
Apart from the opening shots, the movie was filmed entirely at Warner Bros. Studio head Jack L. Warner - still reeling from the cost of shooting John Huston's previous film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), on location - refused to approve any more location filming for the director. The pier scenes were filmed using the studio tank with miniature boats in the background to give an illusion of depth. The shipboard shots at the end were also filmed using the studio tank, with fog used to mask the artifice.
Felipa Gómez, who played the Old Indian Woman, was born just five years after the U.S. Civil War ended.
When John Huston was scouting for locations on the Florida Keys, he asked a hotel owner where the storm cellar was. The man informed him that if you dug three feet down you would hit the ocean.