Thursday, October 2, 2008

All Through The Night

"All Through The Night" (Vincent Sherman, 1942) Just before solidifying his career with "Casablanca," Warner Brothers contract player Humphrey Bogart was still prone to being cast in Warners product like this, a bizarre B-movie comedy/adventure about Runyonesque hoods taking on Nazi "fifth columnists" skulking in the basements of Brooklyn. With gats in their pockets (and tongues firmly in cheeks), the mugs use their considerable street-skills to knock the Ratzis "back on their Axis."

It all starts when "Gloves" Donahue (Bogart) can't get his usual slice of cheesecake from Miller's Bakery with his morning coffee. Decrying the "
mucilage" set on his plate, "Gloves" investigates why Miller's delivery was held up. Then, his mama (Jane Darwell), the block noodge, gets in on the act, and soon, bodies start piling up, "Gloves" is framed for murder and stumbles upon a fine Frau frail and before you know it, he's running out of secret rooms, and heading for the East choice.

It's hooey. But there is something amusing about a bunch of crooks fighting even harder against a totalitarian regime to save their livelihoods (them's being "lively hoods"). And the cast is impressive: as the heavies, usual suspects
Conrad Veidt, Peter Lorre (his character's named "Pepi," for some reason), and Judith Anderson. Besides Darwell, on the good side are Barton McLane ("The Maltese Falcon"), William Demarest ("My Three Sons"), Phil Silvers and one Jackie C. Gleason, pre-"Great One" persona.

It's truly whacked. Bogart is playing it as fast as he can. But comedy is not his strong suit. He looks a bit scruffy with his hair falling in his face at times.

"Casablanca" would propel him to the A-list, and he'd never have to settle for B-list material again.

No comments: