40 user 16 critic

One Way Passage (1932)

Unrated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 22 October 1932 (USA)
A terminally ill woman and a debonair murderer facing execution meet and fall in love on a trans-Pacific crossing, each without knowing the other's secret.



(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Frederick Burton ...


Suave Dan Hardesty, a convicted murderer, is apprehended by Steve Burke, a police detective, in Hong Kong and accompanied on the SS Maloa headed for San Francisco. On board, Dan romances Joan Ames, a terminally ill socialite. She is unaware that his ultimate destination is San Quentin. Both realize that their time together is fleeting so they make a pact to meet at a Mexican night club on New Years Eve. When they part in San Francisco they know that the odds are against them. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Romance...reaching the Heights of Heaven!


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 October 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

S.S. Atlantic  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although the character's name would change, Frank McHugh plays the same part in the remake titled 'Til We Meet Again (1940). See more »


When Dan and Steve fall off the cruise ship they are handcuffed together. But if you watch closely, as they hit the water, there appears to be no handcuffs and the two are separate. See more »


[first lines]
Hong Kong Bartender: [mixing a very complex drink] I haven't made one of these since the fourth of July. I was making one when the quake hit Frisco. Believe me friend, I wouldn't go to all this trouble for any of these foreigners. Uh, uh, gotta wait a minute to let the oil sink in. There you are partner, you can tell your grandchildren about that one.
Dan: [before Dan can take a sip, the contents of the glass are knocked out of his hand by Joan backing into him] Say what in the name of...
Joan: Why... I'm so sorry.
Joan: [...]
See more »


Spoofed in The Carol Burnett Show: Episode #8.3 (1974) See more »


Till We Meet Again
(1918) (uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Lyrics by Ray Egan
Sung in the bar by a vocal trio
See more »

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User Reviews

Unsung Gem with unhappy ending?
26 November 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When I worked a graveyard shift, my supervisor, brightening (and waking) us up, asked "Quick! What are your top 5 favorite movies?" I instantly put "One Way Passage" on my list. I wasn't surprised when it wasn't on anyone else's list, this is an obscure gem.

The balance of melodrama and comedy is perfect; as it is in many thirties Warner Bros. dramas. It seems strange at first, but think it through. (For example, my ux Tom posits that Warners's unusual lug-n-mug filled western, "The Oklahoma Kid" is probably accurate, as most of the folks in the historical wild, woolly west moved from the wild East and could have talked like Cagney.)

The McHugh and MacMahon sub-plots are are not just comic relief from the romance, they are deftly integrated into it, and they become romantic co-conspirators. This adds to the appeal; the descriptions "chick flick," "weeper," "women's picture" can not apply.

The leads are sexy, gorgeous, and lovable. The crossed cigarettes tossed on the beach shows how the restraints on old movies resulted in delicious images. The crossed, broken cocktail glass image, at first seen quite early on in the movie, makes me question why IMDb Comments posters are saying this is movie has an unhappy ending (that's not a spoiler, is it?)

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