An American tanker is sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors spend eleven days at sea on a raft. They're next assigned to the liberty ship "Sea Witch" bound for Murmansk through the sub-stalked North Atlantic.
Broadway gambler Gloves Donahue wants to find who killed the baker of his favorite cheesecake. He sees nightclub singer Leda Hamilton leaving the bakery. When her boss Marty's partner Joe is murdered, Leda and her accompanist Pepi disappear. It turns out that beneath all the mystery is a gang of Nazi operatives planning to blow up a battleship in New York harbor.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
When I was a kid a local station had a package of films from the 30's and 40's it would run constantly. My young friends and I developed 6-8 favorites we would all congregate together to watch- everything in the neighborhood stopped for Errol Flynn, (Charge of the Light Brigade, The Sea Hawk, Santa Fe Trail, They Died With Their Boots On, Gentleman Jim, Objective Burma), or Abbott and Costello, (Buck Privates, A&C meet Et Al). The one Humphrey Bogart feature that I remember from this package is All Through the Night. I saw him in this years before Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon and the many other classics he was in.
I got my first chance to look at it in perhaps 40 years recently. It's a strange film in many ways, but still entertaining and a significant part of the Bogart film legacy even if it's far from a classic. We think the great stars just went from one classic to another because that's all we see but just as with modern stars, they made many movies like this between them that also rely on their appeal and mostly fulfill their assignment of entertaining the viewer. Those films should not be forgotten.
This film suffered from ill timing, taking a semi-comic spin on the Nazi threat only to be released just after Pearl Harbor. It must have been about as funny under those circumstances as Ishtar would have been on September 12th. As so many reviewers have commented it unites the Bowery Boys strain of humor, (by way of Damon Runyan) with a Fifth column plot such as we see in the same year's Saboteur, (both films make reference to the burning of the Normadie without actually naming it and say their set of villains was responsible). The Nazis seems to have seen Bogart's previous gangster flicks and consider him a dangerous criminal, (You're just like us ), but the film takes pains to depict him only as a gambler whose biggest vice is that he doesn't mind liberating out of town gamblers from their bankrolls with a crooked deck. He credits his skill with firearms to days he spent at Coney Island.
One interesting aspect is the reference to the Dachau concentration camp. I had thought the concentration camps were just rumored until they were liberated after the war. Maybe their true nature was not known until then. The heroine's father is supposed to have died of 'natural causes' there, if that's possible in such an unnatural place. This is surely the only time Dachau was ever mentioned in a film with any kind of comedic element.
The film is a mother lode of noted character actors and soon to be famous comics, including these future TV icons, Jackie 'C' Gleason and Phil Silvers. It has the pace of a 'B' but the length of and 'A' film. Towards the end you can't believe how much has happened and presume the film must have lasted 3 hours. Some of the dialog is corny but most of it is funny. Frank McHugh gets stuck on his wedding night hanging out with William Demarest and complains about it. Bill tells him 'I can cook!' Maybe he was looking forward to cooking for the Douglases on My Three Sons.
I was pleased to see how many reviewers noted the similarities in the plot of this and North by Northwest, with the auction scene and the police being led to the headquarters of the fifth columnists only to find nothing of interest. Always borrow from the best- or at least the pretty good, such as this.
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