7.5/10
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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.

Director:

Tay Garnett

Writers:

Wilson Mizner (screen play), Joseph Jackson (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
William Powell ... Dan Hardesty
Kay Francis ... Joan Ames
Aline MacMahon ... Betty
Frank McHugh ... Skippy
Warren Hymer ... Steve Burke
Frederick Burton ... The Doctor
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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! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 October 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

S.S. Atlantic See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

In the scene where Dan and Joan meet at a bar and toast one another, keep an eye on Dan's drink. (It's a rare concoction that appears cloudy when first poured.) There are many shots spliced together to show the ensuing dialogue and toast. In each, the cloudiness and quantity of Dan's drink change quite noticeably after a fateful spill and before he even takes a sip. 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: [...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening title card has a cruise ship in the background. See more »

Connections

Remade as The Price of Living (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Auld Lang Syne
(1788) (uncredited)
Traditional Scottish 17th century music
Played during the New Year's Eve bash
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"The luck's come back… this time in full glasses"
21 September 2009 | by ackstasisSee all my reviews

I haven't seen 'Love Affair (1939),' but I have seen 'An Affair to Remember (1957),' and that film undoubtedly owed something to Tay Garnett's 'One Way Passage (1932).' In McCarey's film, a trans-Atlantic liner becomes a metaphor for love: two people fall hopelessly for one another, becoming adrift on a vessel of passion that precludes all former relationships or future life plans. When the ship reaches its destination – New York – reality intrudes on emotion, and love is thrown into turmoil. In 'One Way Passage,' the reality is death itself. Joan (Kay Francis) has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and will be lucky to survive the journey to America. Dan (William Powell) has been convicted for murder, and in San Quentin awaits his gallows. Neither knows that the other is walking death row, either figuratively or literally, but love intercedes on their behalf: just as a star is brightest before its extinction, so too is love at its most passionate when the lovers' time is limited.

Despite its very brief running time (67 minutes), 'One Way Passage' is one of the great unsung romances. An aura of hope pervades the film. Though the viewer is always aware of the inevitable, I loathe to describe the story as a "doomed romance." Such a label would properly refer to, say, Lean's 'Brief Encounter (1945)' or Ophüls' 'Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948),' in which the prevailing mood is that of tragedy and misspent emotion. In 'One Way Passage,' not an ounce of passion goes to waste, each lover fully aware that their time together is brief. I was also struck by the notion that love doesn't necessarily entail complete openness between lovers. Lying, if done to protect rather than deceive, can be the most heartbreakingly romantic thing of all (I'm reminded of the devoted father in 'A Night to Remember (1958)' who, with admirable composure, assures his family that the Titanic will not sink, despite knowing that his own death is unavoidable). Garnett's casual use of long takes in masterful, giving the story a poetic fluidity without drawing attention to itself.

William Powell was one of the busiest stars of the 1930s, enjoying the security of, not one, but two recurring characters (Philo Vance and Nick Charles, both detectives). 'One Way Passage' was produced by Warner Brothers before he moved to M-G-M in 1934. Even before 'The Thin Man (1934),' however, Powell was one of the classiest stars in Hollywood, here delivering his dialogue with unsurpassed aplomb. Kay Francis was a new face for me, but her eyes simply sparkle with life and emotion, her character torn between the joys of love and the heartbreak of impending death. Of the supporting players, only Frank McHugh – as a drunken pickpocket with a weaselly cackle – destroyed the mood of the film, his alcoholism far less amusing than Nick Charles' subsequent hankering for martinis. While Aline MacMahon and Warren Hymer are strong, 'One Way Passage' truly belongs to Powell and Francis, and to a love than persists long after its participants have moved on to other worlds.


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