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Passage to Marseille (1944)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Adventure, War  |  11 March 1944 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 2,563 users  
Reviews: 44 user | 10 critic

Five patriotic convicts are helped to escape imprisonment in Devil's Island so they can fight for occupied Free French forces against the Nazis.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Paula Matrac (as Michele Morgan)
Philip Dorn ...
Helmut Dantine ...
Victor Francen ...
Capt. Patain Malo
Vladimir Sokoloff ...
Eduardo Ciannelli ...
Chief Engineer (as Edward Ciannelli)
Corinna Mura ...


As French bomber crews prepare an air raid from a base in England, we learn the story of Matrac, a French journalist who opposed the Munich Pact. Framed for murder and sent to Devil's Island, he and four others escape. They are on a ship bound for Marseilles when France surrenders and fascist sympathizer Major Duval tries to seize the ship for Vichy. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Adventure | War


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Release Date:

11 March 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Passagem Para Marselha  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


During filming, Lauren Bacall was brought to the set in order to gauge her chemistry with Humphrey Bogart with whom she would soon be co-starring in To Have and Have Not (1944). This was the famous duo's first meeting, though it would be months before their romance began. See more »


The German aircraft attacking the freighter is correct for the period with one exception. The interior views of the air gunners, they are using the wrong weapons. A 20mm mg on a swivel mount is in the forward part of the gondola. In the rear part of the gondola, a 13mm mg is mounted. The weapons shown being used are U.S. 50 cal mg. See more »


Captain Freycinet: It's a fine day.
Renault: Any day that takes us closer to France is a fine day.
See more »


Referenced in Grim Fandango (1998) See more »


La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Variations played often in the score
Sung by a chorus at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

"France Lives.......Vive La France"
28 October 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

In an effort to capitalize on the film that they produced that won the Best Picture Oscar the previous year, the Brothers Warner united as much of the original cast of Casablanca as they could find to tell the tale of convicts from Devil's Island returning to fight the Nazis.

Passage to Marseille might have been a better film if it been done with a straight forward narrative, or only one flashback, from the Humphrey Bogart character. As it is I counted at one point Claude Rains telling his story to newspaper reporter John Loder with a flashback by Phillip Dorn in Rains's narrative. And then in Dorn's narrative we have Bogart flashing back as well. It's a flashback within a flashback within a flashback, within a flashback. Confusing ain't it?

Our Devil's Island convicts are Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Helmut Dantine, George Tobias, and Phillip Dorn. They're picked up by a tramp freighter heading back to Marseille. World War II has already started and midpoint of the voyage, ship captain Victor Francen hears that France has fallen. He starts shifting his course to Great Britain.

Another passenger Sidney Greenstreet has other ideas. He tries a small scale coup d'etat for the Vichy regime on board and meets up with a whole lot of resistance. Greenstreet has the most interesting role in the film. An arrogant militarist, he definitely finds the Nazi dominated Europe more to his liking.

Michele Morgan is Bogart's wife and the only one in the film who is actually French among the principal players. She was a very big star of the French cinema who was lucky to get out. During the war she made films in the UK and the USA. This and Higher and Higher are probably her two best known American films.

Claude Rains is a kinder, gentler version of Captain Renaud from Casablanca. As Captain Freycinet also of the French army like Greenstreet, his politics are a whole lot different. He's an opportunist also in the best sense of the word. He sees an opportunity to deny the Nazis the ship's cargo of nickel ore and takes it. It's from his perspective that the action of the film is viewed and it is he who supplies the coda for the film which is the title for this review.

Passage to Marseille is not a bad film, but not up there with Casablanca.

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