|Index||5 reviews in total|
The film begins with a group of employees carpooling to work. It seems
that they hardly know each other but they all work at the nearby
defense plant. The driver breaks the usual silence by telling them that
since they really don't know each other, he's been telling his wife
stories about each of them. Now, he needed to confess this because the
wife is insisting he invite them all to a party! From this point on,
the film is a long series of flashbacks where you get to learn more
about each character as well as why they are now working for the
I think that much of the impact of this film is lost today unless you understand the context. The United States was in the middle of WWII and Hollywood felt a strong obligation to aid in the war effort by producing films that encouraged the people at home to do their best to support their country. At the time, a film like this would have been quite popular and few would have second-guessed the producers and writers for making such a sentimental film. So it is in this context that I hope viewers watch this film--after all, it's easy to see the film as hard to believe now, but at the time this was timely and important.
As for the technical merits of the film, the script is rather interesting--with some of the vignettes being excellent and a couple being just okay. The acting is good and it's nice to see a young Robert Ryan in one of his first films as well as the reliable old character actor, John Carradine in one of his more "normal" roles.
The flag-waving toward the end gets a little too intense. Considering the
time, though, it makes sense.
People on their way to work reminisce about how they end up at a munitions factory. Margo is very convincing as an emigre French chanteuse. It works really well, all told, and is touching and engrossing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Driving his fellow workers to the local defense plant
old man Jim Benson, Charles Arnt, tries to liven up the place, with no
one on board as much as saying boo, by trying to figure out what his
fellow workers did for a living before war broke out. It's then,
between incidents, leading to the defense plant we get to see what put
this odd lot of people together in the first place.
There's Lisette, Margo, a refugee from Hitler's Europe. Working with the French Resistance Lisette's job was to sabotage the Nazis occupying her country with her, with the help of an illegal short-wave radio, cutting into Hitler's speeches, singing the French National Anthem, whenever they were broadcast on Radio Berlin. Not realizing that her voice will be recognized by the Nazis Lisette is arrested and given the opportunity to live if she sang for them "Deutschland Uber Alles". Acting as if she's going along with the Nazis the first chance that she gets Lisette jumps into the River Seine in an attempt to kill herself.
Not only did Lisette survive she also found out who turned her and her fellow Resistance fighters into the Nazis and exposed who he was. This lead to the Quisling to be shot and killed by the angry Frencmen and Lisette getting a ride out of occupied France, with the help of the French Resistance, and to freedom in America.
Moodly looking Joe Dunham, Robert Ryan, was a bit ticked off in not being able to enlist into the US Army Air Force. Joe being a professional race car driver banged himself up just before he was to join the military to fight Fascism all over the world. With Jim Benson's car blowing out a tire Joe does help in the war effort by fixing the damaged wheel. By doing that Joe enables himself and his fellow defense workers get to the plant and assemble the military hardware, planes tanks and artillery, in order to defeat the Fascist's hoards.
Former prison warden Tom Burke, James Bell, is by far the oddest of the bunch riding in old man's Fred Benson's car. Burke's past has to do with him having his brother Dan get electrocuted for a quadruple murder. This despite having the governor call off the execution by giving Dan a stay! Whatever Dan did, that included giving his and his brother Tom's mom a fatal heart attack, the law is the law. That includes halting a state authorized execution when the state governor calls it off!
Mary Jones, Amelita Ward, a former Miss America left her boyfriend Bob, William Terry, for her career as a showgirl and product, like buck wheat pancakes, endorser. It's when Mary sees that Bob joined the USAAF and is stationed in Australia that she gives up her entertainment and showbiz career to work at the plant assembling air planes, that Bob and his fellow airmen will need, to bomb the Japs into oblivion. Like the two B-29's that did a number on them at the close of the war in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The last member of old man's Benson's carpool is former intellectual Wellington, John Carradine, who dropped out of society and became a bum riding the rails and not keeping up with the news of the world. It turns out to his shock that Wellington, after being arrested for vagrancy, learned that his country, the USA, is at war while he, instead of aiding in the war effort, is just bumming around and doing nothing to help. Getting a job for the first time since the beginning of th Great Depression or ever earlier Wellington is now making weapons of mass destruction, WMD's for short, to finally put an end to those who want to do both him and his fellow Americans in.
A bit on the strange side even for a movie made to boost the publics moral during wartime "Gangway for Tomorrow" celebrates those, for one reason or another, who stayed behind the lines to do what they can in helping America fight and eventually win WWII. We see the results of those tireless and patriotic workers , in Benson's car, as the movie finally comes to an end: A sky full of heavy bombers on the way to the war zones. These thousands of planes that they, the plant workers, assembled are in the end going to win the war for the allies .
1943's "Gangway for Tomorrow" is another anthology film from the war years, nowhere near as ambitious as Fox's "Tales of Manhattan" or Universal's "Flesh and Fantasy," just a tight little RKO 'B' that served its purpose then, and still resonates today. Scripted from the prolific pen of radio writer Arch Oboler, best remembered for the horror series LIGHTS OUT, whose career as a movie director (always scripting his own material) turned out such intriguing oddities as "Strange Holiday," "Bewitched," "Five," "Bwana Devil" (the first 3-D feature release), "The Twonky," and the notorious 1966 "The Bubble," later seen on television under the incredibly deceptive title "Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth" (also a 3-D release). Five strangers are driven to work building airplanes for the war effort, their driver sharing his innocent fantasies about what kind of lives they led before they wound up at the local defense plant, each character's backstory unfolding in individual segments. Driver Jim Benson (Charles Arnt) told his wife that Lisette Rene (Margo) was a descendant of Marie Antoinette, actually a former member of the French Resistance, barely escaping Paris with her life after her comrades are betrayed by one of their own. A flat tire finds Joe Dunham (Robert Ryan) in familiar territory, a former race car driver whose last victorious finish ended in a near fatal crash resulting in his failure to join his friends in the Air Force. Former prison warden Tom Burke (James Bell) continues to brood over the awful circumstances of how he was forced to execute his own brother, convicted of taking four innocent lives in a bank holdup, the news of which was enough of a shock to kill their mother. Benson's description of Mary Jones (Amelita Ward) as 'a pretty home girl' isn't far from the mark, except that her recent crowning as Miss America proved neither professionally nor personally rewarding (her neglected boyfriend ran off to war), so she's now dedicated to helping out by working at the plant. Last but certainly not least, we have legendary scene stealer John Carradine, whose sleepy Wellington was believed to be a former banker who tired of playing with finances to travel around; again not far from the truth, as he's really a vagrant whose journey to California aboard a train with fellow hobo Swallow (Alan Carney) finds them both arrested and put on trial for avoiding a war they claimed to know nothing about. The sentiments expressed by Harry Davenport's judge shine just as brightly today as they did then, a time when Americans were united, had a backbone and refused to quit, Wellington free to go his own way but now anxious to perform his patriotic duty (if it's not too taxing of course). All five are perfectly happy to have Benson's wife believe what her husband said about them, and accept her invitation for Sunday dinner. At 69 minutes, no segment runs on longer than it should, with Margo's opener the longest, Robert Ryan's the shortest (Wally Brown and Alan Carney, RKO's answer to Universal's Abbott and Costello, are cast in separate stories, not a team in this one). Carradine is naturally a constant delight, offering his second-to-none impersonation of John Barrymore, which he would essentially repeat in 1946's "Down Missouri Way," and in a 1985 episode of FAME, "Leroy and the Kid," still possessing 'the Divine Madness' at age 79.
propaganda portmanteau movie: several persons ,aboard a car ,tell their
The first is an improbable story of French resistance (but there is some excuse,for the screenwriters could not really know what happened across the ocean)with "la Marseillaise " galore .
Highly talented Robert Ryan is wasted in another improbable story of car race and Air Force pilots .
Other segments include "Miss America" and her unfortunate fiancé and a spooky story of death row.
The last episode puts the record straight :it's full of finer feelings and looks like a Frank Capra's finale but ,out of context, it is rather ponderous and doctrinaire :after all ,a tramp is par excellence an outcast,thrown out of the society-in the segment,it's his own will,but it is a very particular case- so why complain if the old man's remarks on the international situation do not concern him?Frank Capra probably would have found a way to make this moral convincing
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