The Petrified Forest (1936) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Petrified Forest1936

The Petrified Forest (1936)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Burned-out British intellectual Alan Squier (Leslie Howard) wanders into the desert service station/restaurant owned by Jason Maple (Porter Hall). Alan finds himself an object of fascination for Jason's starry-eyed daughter, Gabrielle Bette Davis, who dreams of moving to France and establishing herself. Boze Hertzlinger (Dick Foran), Gabrielle's gas-jockey boyfriend, grows jealous of Alan, but the penniless, dissipated Briton has no intention of settling down; in fact, as soon as he mooches a ride from wealthy tourists Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm (Paul Harvey and Genevieve Tobin), he's on his way out of Gabrielle's life...or so everyone thinks. Later that same day, Alan, Gabrielle, Jason, Boze, and Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm are huddled together in the selfsame restaurant, held at gunpoint by Dillinger-like desperado Duke Mantee (Humphrey Bogart) and his gang. Alan seems indifferent to the danger, toasting Duke as "the last great apostle of rugged individualism." Sensing an opportunity to give his life meaning, Alan takes Duke aside, begging the outlaw to kill him so that Gabrielle can travel to Paris on the money provided by Alan's insurance policy. When the police converge on the restaurant, Duke announces that he intends to use Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm as a shield in order to make his escape. Alan tries to stop him, receiving a bullet in the belly for his troubles. "So long, pal," growls Duke fatalistically, moments before his own death, "I'll be seein' ya soon." Alan dies in Gabrielle's arms, secure in the knowledge that, alone among the film's principals, she will be able to escape the trap of her existence. When originally presented on Broadway, Robert E. Sherwood's The Petrified Forest starred Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart. Warner Bros. intended to cast Edward G. Robinson in Duke's role, only to be thwarted by Howard, who told the studio that he himself would drop out of the project if Bogart wasn't retained. The film proved to be just the break that Bogart needed; years later, he expressed his undying gratitude to Howard by naming his daughter Leslie Bogart. One year after The Petrified Forest, Humphrey Bogart and Leslie Howard co-starred in The Stand-In. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Leslie Howard
as Alan Squier
Bette Davis
as Gabrielle Maple
Humphrey Bogart
as Duke Mantee
Dick Foran
as Boze Hertzlinger
Genevieve Tobin
as Mrs. Chisholm
Joe Sawyer
as Jackie
Porter Hall
as Jason Maple
Paul Harvey
as Mr. Chisholm
Eddie Acuff
as Lineman
John Alexander
as Joseph the Chauffeur
Arthur Ayleswofth
as Commander of Black Horse Troopers
George Guhl
as Trooper
Constance Bergen
as Mantee's Girl
Francis Shide
as 2nd Lineman
Gus Leonard
as Postman
Jim Farley
as Sheriff
Addison Richards
as Radio Announcer
Charley Grapewin
as Gramp Maple
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Critic Reviews for The Petrified Forest

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (1)

Huch of what's on display here evokes a society on the decline.

February 11, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Once the allegorical motive is dismissed or relegated to a secondary level... the plot of The Petrified Forest seems admirable to me. In this film, death works like hypnosis or alcohol: it brings the recesses of the soul into the light of day.

December 14, 2021 | Full Review…

Bogart is merely the villain, and his screentime is rather limited, but he immediately provides a striking presence.

July 29, 2020 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Mayo makes it endearing, dark, almost existential with its radiograph of American stereotypes from the years after the Great Depression. [Full review in Spanish]

July 16, 2020 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Very young people won't find The Petrified Forest much fun, but adults, who like wise and witty talk, with or without gunplay, should find it rewarding.

September 25, 2019 | Full Review…

Darker looks have never been cast on celluloid.

November 9, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Petrified Forest

What if college educated types ruminated on the soullessness of society and chose to broadcast those thoughts to the world at large? Boring, right? How to "get 'er done" then? By making those ruminations palatable, even poetic, and hiding them in the story of a gangster-on-the-run! So Leslie Howard spouts poetic musings left and right, college professorial pipe thoughtfully in the side of his mouth. A young Bette Davis gazes at him soulfully, her eyes never so big (and yet there is zero heat between them). Bogie is on hand simply as the heavy, the Angel of Death, only present to promise a cessation of Howard's character's unending poetic ramble, and (by my reckoning) he takes too long. High-end drama, decently presented, if obviously.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


An interesting love story wrapped up in a crime thriller story. A bit long and talky, though, but pretty good.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


a very diologue driven gangster picture that delivers. the acting was very good and the story well told despite the fact that it was incredibly simple. the entire film essentially takes place on a single set and no "event" really takes place throughout the film, but the diologue was poetic. i just had a really good time watching people talk for 80 minutes, and the fate of these well planned characters really mattered to me. great movie.

danny d
danny d

Super Reviewer

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