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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Bogart Busts Up a Bund

All Through The Night (1941) Pits Bad Men Against Badder Men

Gotham's German section was a hotbed of Bundist spies, says Warners in this comic-flavored thriller that opened days ahead of Pearl Harbor and declaration of war. WB as of late '41 were bulls in a pen eager to get fighting underway, that noted by Congress members determined to keep us out of war’s way and unroot those who’d have it different, like for instance, a film industry strapping on gloves. All Through The Night was Warner certainty that we’d soon be in it to win it. The town was natured to stay ahead of headlines. Timing was everything, especially with total war waiting in wings. Remember the lucky punch Fox had with To The Shores Of Tripoli? Can’t blame Warners for wanting their sup at the cup, but risk was always events turning an unexpected way that would make finished films suddenly obsolete or inappropriate. To accurately read tea leaves was to cash in big where you were right, Humphrey Bogart’s persona new-born as wise guy who saw the jam we were getting in and knew it took bare knuckles to get us out. He was prescient in All Through The Night, would be again with Across The Pacific. Why not appoint filmland Bogart and others of like clairvoyance as head generals to see an imperiled nation through?

Be assured that many saw tough guys in movies as examples to follow. The government noticed and so used Hollywood to gird a country’s loins for what they knew would be a long slog. Would the war have been winnable without movies? Food for speculation there. What would have become of All Through The Night and others if Roosevelt had declared definitely that we would not fight, and woe to those who'd incite otherwise? As things worked out, All Through The Night was a perfect warm-up for combat to come, but you have to wonder if Strand patronage wasn't tempted to head vigilante-style for nearby Yorkville to clean out perceived Nazi nests. Maybe apprehension of such an outcome made Warners salt All Through The Night with good and loyal Germans, sweet old ladies that have cheesecake waiting for Bogart as likeable, patriotic, sort-of outlaw “Gloves” Donahue, who realizes there is espionage afoot just cause the cake one day tastes funny. That is delight of All Through The Night, which like similar Lucky Jordan with Alan Ladd, gets laughter out of crisis we were head-longing toward.

Gloves is a crook we want in the neighborhood to, like Popeye, protect the weakerest and stomp out Axis ant hills. Worst of these, Conrad Veidt, Martin Kosleck, Judith Anderson, are off recent boats from Deutch harbors, good argument against any more of same emigrating here, at least before order is restored. Gloves’ is a free-lance force --- were there even police on duty here? --- if there were, Gloves never needed them. Nazi plot is to blow up Brooklyn’s harbor. Movie Huns lit fuses all over Gotham, part-time commandos like Bogie/Bogey tireless at snuffing them out. Recall Norman Lloyd as the saboteur who smirks when he rides by a disabled ship in Hitchcock’s same season thriller? Every untoward thing that happened in New York was chalked up to points scored by our enemies. I might have got suspicious in 1942 if a Coke machine didn’t work.

Humphrey Bogart was lately from The Maltese Falcon and perception of him was changing, not only among a public, but employers. You could let Bogart live through an end title and even have the girl, these denied him in most work since The Petrified Forest and a long six years in which to repeat himself. The Maltese Falcon was also birth to a stock company that would orbit around Bogart, by turns menacing or assisting him. These in support were vital to the Bogart enterprise, for where would so many of his be without Lorre, Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, then later Veidt, Helmut Dantine, a first team in again for Casablanca, Passage To Marseille? They were essential atmosphere, the threats, always a colorful background. Any Bogart could boast of an “international” cast, and formula for his bled into vehicles for others --- The Mask Of Dimitrios, The Conspirators, Greenstreet/Lorre spun off into a series of their own. The war made all these ventures believable, gave us a sense of what might be happening in Euro hotspots we’d not visit except in newsreels. Fan press told of lately arrivals to Hollywood who left family behind that may still be imperiled, so their investment in the fight was total. It had to be Bogie’s idea to use Peter Lorre late as Beat The Devil, or John Huston suggested it and Bogart said yes, by all means (he and Lorre close friends).

Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers, Bill Demarest As Humor Henchmen
Warners was all the more upping tempo now that worldwide conflict was imminent. Theirs was staccato pace beside stately stride at Metro and elsewhere that seemed less aware of changed times. Even Warner ad art had harried look of cut/slash graphics and sales punching your face. He's Gunning After The Gestapo! was writ across ads like crayon on sidewalks by over-stimulated youth, an audience moving in Bogart's direction as they had for James Cagney when he was starting out and linked more closely with roughhouse. High Sierra art had been used to sell "Killer" Bogart for The Maltese Falcon, ad imagery of this star stuck in one-size-fits-all category. Bogart as a could-be romantic partner was floated, but had New York gotten the word? East and west coasts seemed deaf to one another where it came to promotion, thus All Through The Night Bogie on posters with hair shaved on sides and posed like a convict busted loose. Portal Publications had an All Through The Night repro one-sheet for a dollar back in the late 60’s. It hung on my wall where originals would never likely be. That one was a honey and played Bogart fair, even as newspapers ads continued to mislead. Grassroot showmen would opt always for the safely familiar. It took Casablanca to really shift gears of Bogart selling. All Through The Night shows up at TCM in HD. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Blu-Ray turned up soon.


Blogger Kevin K. said...

This was one of the first movies I saw on TCM. I was surprised at how funny it was at times. Bogart was such an engaging actor when he wanted to be.

Growing up, I never saw anyone smoke a cigarette like Gleason -- two or three fingers on top, one thumb on the bottom -- until I started watching Bogart movies. Clearly Gleason was paying close attention.

10:12 PM  
Blogger DBenson said...

Fun film, curious title -- "All Through the Night" was already a Cole Porter standard, but this movie features a NEW song by that name.

A gangland type could turn patriot, but only in features. In serials, guys in fedoras and wide-lapel suits invariably signed on with Axis agents, mad scientists, and even invaders from outer space.

Also: Phil Silvers never feels quite right in his pre-Bilko mode. He's okay as Gene Kelly's hyper sidekick in a couple of musicals, but the edges are blurry until he zeroed in on the con man, perhaps born of his part in the Broadway show "High Button Shoes". Or maybe we're just so used to the later character we can't relate to his earlier performances.

4:24 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

I love this picture, though I can never forgive Veidt for blowing up his dachshund in the climax.

It's amazing how fine a line it delineates. It's one thing to have wacky Runyonesque characters (and what exactly is Bogart's job here? Just a gambler or something more shady?) up against fifth columnists and have everything be comic and another to paint the actual threat they represented, but as serious as it gets, it never forgets its a comedy; even in the Bund meeting, where they take a break to do double-talk shtick. The tone is pitch-perfect throughout.

I'm especially thankful Warners was able to pry Demerest loose from Paramount, because there was really no one in Burbank who could match his level of dyspeptic confusion.

6:36 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer notes an unwelcome dog death in ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT:

A pretty rough ending, though, with Conrad Veidt's dachshund getting it along with him.

Hitchcock would have learned his lesson from "Sabotage" and inserted a quick shot of the little fellow swimming for shore.

Of course, the audience might have been expecting just that.

Maybe Harry Langdon was doing do uncredited freelance work.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

As I understand Warner Brothers' Berlin agent was kicked to death in the streets the night the Nazis took power in 1933. The studio knew what had happened in Germany meant trouble for the world. They took a stand against Hitler long before everyone else.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Eddie Cantor and Walter Winchell were more vocal, and got threats from sponsors and homegrown Nazis.

9:43 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

The print ads vacillated between the "Through" and "Thru" spellings, depending upon the space allotted.
The Warner brothers (except Jack) were Polish-born, and likely still had family in Poland, and were concerned over Nazi incursions there.

Bogart's method of smoking no doubt inspired the saying "don't Bogart that cigarette/joint."

11:21 AM  
Blogger James Abbott said...

I have always loved this movie -- and there's a moment in The Rocketeer (a woefully under-appreciated semi-masterpiece) that always reminds me of it.

Learning that his boss is a Nazi, gangster Paul Sorvino says, "I may not make an honest buck, but I'm 100% American."

There was a feeling, very pervasive from the 30s throughout the early 60s, that Americans were in it together for the long haul, including both sides of the law.

I think it's fairly clear that Bogart is "some" type of gangster; perhaps not tommy gun toting hood, but certainly a bookmaker or some such. Without that sense of danger from Bogart, Gloves wouldn't have any weight.

Funny and delightful picture.

12:13 PM  
Blogger William Ferry said...

CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY (1939) ranks as one of Warners' great achievements.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

One of my favorites! Always enjoy revisiting. If you removed all the contractions, this would be pure Damon Runyon... Glove's 'gang' would be totally at home rubbing padded shoulders with the singing/dancing gamblers in GUYS AND DOLLS. And, man, what a cast!

7:10 PM  
Blogger Robert Fiore said...

When you look at The Big Sleep it's striking how hard the studio is pushing Bogart as a sex symbol.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Oh, yeah... ya also gotta love the little cameo appearance of a 'Scrappy' character toy (not WB Looney Tunes!)

12:03 PM  

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