Day: March 7, 2011

All Through The Night

1942

Warner Brothers

Produced by Hal B. Wallis

Directed by Vincent Sherman

Screenplay by Leonard Spiegelgass and Edwin Gilbert

Based on a story by Leonard Spiegelgass and Leo Rosten

I am so confident that you’re going to want to see ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT when this review is over that I’m just going to give you the plot and the characters and I’m going to bet my mint condition #1 of DC Comics ‘Black Lightning’ that by the end of this review, this movie will be on your Netflix list.  Ready?  Okay, here we go:

Well-known man-about-town and professional gambler Alfred “Gloves” Donahue (Humphrey Bogart) is summoned from Yankee Stadium by his mother (Jane Darwell).  Papa Miller who runs the neighborhood bakery has gone missing which upsets Gloves to no end as he won’t eat any other cheesecake except for Papa Miller’s.  A search of the bakery’s basement soon turns up the dead body of Papa Miller.  Mother Donahue won’t rest until her son gets involved to find out who killed Papa Miller even though Gloves keeps insisting he’s just a ‘sports promoter’ and not a cop.  With the assistance of his trusty sidekicks Sunshine (William Demarest) Starchy (Jackie Gleason) and Barney (Frank McHugh) Gloves tracks down a mysterious girl who had come to the shop to see Papa Miller and was highly upset about hearing about his death.  The girl is the torch singer Leda Hamilton (Kaaren Verne) who works with the pianist Pepi (Peter Lorre) whose disarming charm masks a soul filled with bloodthirsty sadism.

It isn’t long before Gloves and his boys find themselves up their stylish fedoras in a nest of Nazi Fifth Columnists led by the sinister Franz Ebbing (Conrad Veidt) and his assistant Madame (Judith Anderson) who along with Pepi make as ruthless a trio of villains as you could ever imagine.  Turns out that the Fifth Columnists were blackmailing Papa Miller into working with them and when he couldn’t take it anymore and threatened to go to the cops, Pepi killed him.  Gloves is framed for murder by Pepi and having nowhere else to turn, appeals to New York’s underworld element.  Gloves has discovered that Ebbing has a plot in the works to blow up an experimental prototype battleship docked at The Brooklyn Navy Yard and there’s no time to convince the cops of what’s going to happen.  And so it’s Game On as New York’s criminal underworld throws itself into a race against time to stop the Nazis while Gloves has a no less dangerous task: save Leda from the clutches of the villains in order to clear his good name and still get home in time for dinner with his beloved mother.

You’re going to tell me you don’t want to see this movie? ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT has a screwball plot that is so wonderful I wish I’d thought of it myself.  Humphrey Bogart is terrific as Gloves Donahue.  He’s totally charming when he has to be and when he has to be tough, well…let’s just say that for me, Bogart is the living embodiment of ‘tough’.  I really liked the scenes he has with Jane Darwell who plays his mother.  Even though Gloves insists he’s juts a gambler and a ‘promoter’ his mother knows her son is a gangster.  But she loves him to death anyway.  The rapport between them is wonderfully to see on screen.

Conrad Veidt, Judith Anderson and Peter Lorre make an extremely formidable trio of villains and it’s plain ol’ flat-out fun to watch Bogart’s street-smart gangster match verbal wits with Veidt’s sophisticated European intellectual.  There’s an interesting subplot where we see that Judith Anderson’s character is clearly jealous of the attention Ebbing shows Leda.  Another subplot that is played for very effective laughs is that Barney has just gotten married but he can never get to spend time with his wife because Gloves and the boys are always dragging him off on a new escapade.

William Demarest (Uncle Charlie from ‘My Three Sons’) Frank McHugh and Jackie Gleason (yes, that Jackie Gleason) are all terrific as Bogart’s sidekicks with personalities, quirks and mannerisms that are as distinctive as those of Doc Savage’s Iron Crew or Buckaroo Banzai’s Hong Kong Cavaliers.

The whole movie is a weird type of action/comedy that we like to think is a modern movie convention but ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT proved that they did back then in 1942 and did it well.  The dialog is absolutely fantastic and delivered in a Damon Runyonesq style that will make you think of ‘Guys And Dolls’.  There’s a wisecrack thrown off in almost every sentence and the use of a type of Pig Latin doubletalk is used to hilarious effect in one of the best and funniest scenes in the movie: Gloves and Sunshine infiltrate a secret Nazi meeting by posing as German demolition experts:

 

Just take my word for it:  ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT is a lot of fun and it’s a great movie.  It’s been one of my favorite films for years. If you’re a Bogie fan you’ve probably seen it already and if you’re not, you will be after you see it.  I consider it a lost classic of pulp adventure.  You see it then come back and tell me what you think.

107 Minutes