“It’s a great pity, Mr. Donahue, that you and I should oppose each other. We have so much in common,” says Ebbing. ‘Gloves’ Donohue replies, “Yeah? How’s that?” Ebbing responds, “You are a man of action. You take what you want, and so do we. You have no respect for democracy; neither do we. It’s clear we should be allies.”
Producer Hal B. Wallis and director Vincent Sherman made an anti-Nazi melodrama called Underground, which was released in early 1941. Despite the film’s disappointing box office performance, Wallis still went ahead and recruited Sherman to direct a companion piece to Underground. Released later that same year, Sherman’s All Through the Night would prove to be the more popular of the two films (both critically and financially). The film would also help star Humphrey Bogart transition from the gangster roles he was usually typecasted for. I was fortunate enough to see All Through the Night on the big screen more than a decade ago at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY. It was an interesting (and enjoyable) experience since it was the first Bogart film I’d ever seen on the big screen. This review for All Through the Night is my entry in the Swashathon hosted by Movies Silently.
1941’s All Through the Night follows a sports promoter who is wrongly suspected of killing a nightclub owner and goes looking for the nightclub singer who is somehow connected to the death of his favorite baker in order to clear his name. Sherman brought together a terrific cast that includes Bogart (as Alfred “Gloves” Donahue), Conrad Veidt (as Ebbing), Kaaren Verne (as Leda Hamilton), Judith Anderson (as Madame), Peter Lorre (as Pepi), William Demarest (as Sunshine), Jane Darwell (as Mrs. Donohue), Frank McHugh (as Barney), and Jackie Gleason (as Starchy). Bogart shines as the well-meaning “Gloves,” who goes through a lot of trouble (including Nazis) in order to clear his name as well as Leda’s. Veidt is surprisingly restrained in his villainy as Ebbing, who leads a group of Fifth Columnists (Nazis) in NY. Verne brings ambiguity to her role as Leda, who may or may not be villainous in her association with Ebbing. Sherman filled his cast with a number of wonderful character actors, including Darwell as Gloves’ mother and Lorre as an assassin. The exchange between Bogart and Demarest at a Fifth Columnist meeting is also one of the film’s biggest highlights.
The screenplay by Leonard Spigelgass and Edwin Gilbert presents a suspenseful (and at times hilarious) espionage thriller that becomes patriotic as the story progresses (I was surprised at the mention of a concentration camp, especially since the film was made and released prior to the U.S. entry into World War 2). The script is even peppered with some swashbuckling moments (surprisingly enough). Examples of the film’s swashbuckling spirit include “Gloves” escaping out of a window with Leda over his shoulder while climbing down a curtain on the side of a building, “Gloves” escaping the cops by throwing a giant curtain on them, jumping out of a window, and diving into the East River, and the brawl in the third act between the Fifth Columnists and Gloves’ associates. Rudi Fehr’s editing keeps the film moving at a quick pace, and Sidney Hickox’s cinematography matches the tone of the film. Sherman’s All Through the Night proved to be an important stepping stone for Humphrey Bogart but is still a fine film on its own as an engaging (and surprisingly patriotic) thriller filled with memorable performances from the main leads as well as the many Warner Bros. character actors that populate it.