Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Thomas Gomez, Harry Lewis, John Rodney, Marc Lawrence, Dan Seymour, Monte Blue, William Haade, Rodd Redwing, Jay Silverheels
A patrol car speeds ahead of a bus traveling on the causeway that links the Florida Keys to the mainland. Sheriff Ben Wade (Blue) signals the bus driver to stop. Deputy Clyde Sawyer (Rodney) boards the bus, looking for two Seminole Indians recently escaped from jail. The Sheriff releases the bus, and it resumes its trip to Key West. Frank McCloud (Bogart) is the only one who steps off the bus, suitcase in hand, at a rustic hotel in Key Largo. There’s no-one at the registration desk and he’s told by a man at the lobby that the hotel is closed. McCloud asks to see Mr. Temple and is told that he is not in. Moving to the barroom, McCloud meets two other men and Gaye Dawn (Trevor), a woman whose beauty is being eroded by overindulgence in alcohol. The men, wearing dress trousers and long-sleeved shirts, seem out of place in the island summer. Their chilly attitude contrasts with Gaye’s friendly chatting. Then someone calls on the hotel phone and summons Gaye upstairs. McCloud is then told Mr. Temple is out by the boathouse. James Temple (Barrymore), the 70 year-old owner of the Key Largo Hotel, is in his wheelchair at the pier. When Frank introduces himself, Temple is overjoyed to see him and he calls out to his daughter-in-law Nora (Bacall) to join them. Temple tells Nora that Major Frank McCloud has come to see them. Although Nora and James have never met Frank before, they are not strangers. During the war, George Temple, a soldier in Frank’s command, often told him stories of his life with his father and wife in their seaside hotel, and in his letters home, George frequently wrote of Frank, his commanding officer and friend. Frank has held a series of jobs after the war, but none has held his interest. He has drifted to Florida, to share with George’s family his memories of his friend. Frank knows a lot about the Keys, they were one of George’s favorite subjects. Temple asks Frank to stay overnight and, as Nora goes to make his room ready, Sheriff Wade and Deputy Sawyer briefly stop by, looking for the escaped Indians. Nora and James ask Frank to tell them of George’s last hours. Frank tells them that George was killed during intense fighting near Cassino, Italy. Frank was in direct communication with George as he provided crucial information about enemy movements during the time preceding his heroic death. Frank learns from the Temples that Mr. Brown arrived with his entourage from Milwaukee and rented the whole hotel. They have a yacht and intend to do some deep sea fishing. Mr. Brown has kept to his room. The radio brings news of an approaching hurricane. Soon several Indians arrive, seeking shelter. With them are John (Redwing) and Tom Osceola (Silverheels), the escaped brothers. Frank helps Nora prepare the hotel for the hurricane. The personal attraction between the two is natural and their gestures and glances reveal their mounting interest in each other. A phone call to the hotel is intercepted by one of Mr. Brown’s men. It’s Sheriff Wade, trying to locate Deputy Sawyer. When Nora demands the telephone and Frank moves to help her, Brown’s men pull out their guns. A moment later they are holding Nora, her invalid father-in-law and Frank at gunpoint. As the storm winds build up and lightning flashes outside, Mr. Brown joins them. His real name is Johnny Rocco (Robinson), a fugitive criminal boss, brutal and without feelings. Rocco’s thugs, Curly (Gomez), Toots (Lewis), Angel (Seymour), and Ralph (Haade) keep a close watch on the Temples and Frank while Rocco arranges a final lucrative deal before they escape the country on his yacht. Rocco expects to complete a counterfeit money exchange within a couple of hours, but the storm interferes with his plans. Frank endures Rocco’s tauntings, his mind set on keeping the sociopathic mobster and his thugs from killing everyone. Frank keeps silent while James Temple verbally lashes at Rocco, risking instant death. As the wind-driven rain rends the palm trees and the waves crash ashore, Rocco’s behavior becomes erratic. Frank can no longer bide his time. Only through cunning and hazardous action can he hope to save Nora and James and somehow bring the gangsters to justice. Based on the play of the same name by Maxwell Anderson.