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.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Aline MacMahon ...
...
Warren Hymer ...
Frederick Burton ...
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Romance...reaching the Heights of Heaven!

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

22 October 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

S.S. Atlantic  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Screen Director's Playhouse" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on December 30, 1949 with William Powell reprising his film role. See more »

Goofs

A piece of equipment is visible at the bottom right of the screen for around ten seconds in the early scene which features a trio of singers. See more »

Quotes

[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.
Dan:
Joan:
Dan:
Joan: [...]
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Soundtracks

King's Serenade
(uncredited)
Music by Charles E. King
Played when the ship arrives in Honolulu
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User Reviews

 
Best Romantic Film of the 30s
27 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is an update of an earlier comment. One Way Passage is likely the most underrated romance picture of all time! The stars--William Powell and Kay Francis--are superb. The supporting players--Aline MacMahon, Frank McHugh, and Warren Hymer--have never been better. The music score is a classic; the story a perfect gem. Francis is dying from a rare malady; Powell is going home to face execution. They meet and fall in love.

From the opening shot at a Far East bar, complete with a marvelous singing trio (Jane Jones is one of the singers), to the final, heartbreaking moment, this film is the perfect 1930s concoction of great stars and a ridiculously silly plot made totally believable and palatable. Kay Francis was one of the top stars of the decade, and this is one of her best films; William Powell, always underrated, has never been more suave. Both deserved Oscar nominations for this great film, as did MacMahon and McHugh for support (not a category for another few years).

Kay Francis did everything during her reign as a top star. It's amazing how she was able to go from fragile heroine to hard-edged woman and then throw in a comedy. A truly versatile and wonderful star rescued by TCM from obscurity. William Powell would hit his stride a few years after this film in The Thin Man. He started out in silent films as a villain (When Knighthood Was in Flower in 1922) but talkies turned him into the epitome of the debonair gent.

Two great stars, but neither Powell nor Francis would ever win an Oscar.


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