John Ford distills a quartet of plays from the early career of Eugene O'Neill--BOUND EAST FOR CARDIFF, THE LONG VOYAGE HOME, THE ZONE, and THE MOON OF THE CARIBEES--into a stark, fatalistic group portrait of lonely seafaring men. During World War II, the crew of the tramp steamer Glencairn enjoys a final night of carousing in the West Indies before shipping out to pick up a load of dynamite in Baltimore. Among them are the young, good-natured Ole Olsen (John Wayne), saving his pay to buy a small farm in his native Sweden; paternal Irishman Driscoll (Thomas Mitchell); and tortured English aristocrat Smitty (Ian Hunter). After stowing the explosives in Baltimore, the crew is on edge, fearful that rough seas might detonate their volatile cargo. They're also concerned about the increasingly isolated Smitty, who they believe may be signaling the Nazis. The favorite film of the playwright O'Neill, who ran it repeatedly, and certainly among the director's best, THE LONG VOYAGE HOME was made under a deal with 20th Century Fox that allowed Ford to make one nonstudio film per year. While both Ford and the ensemble cast turn in magnificent work, the most notable contribution to the film is made by legendary cinematographer Gregg Toland, who asked the director if he could experiment with a new type of deep-focus photography. Ford agreed, and the film's astounding low-key, high-contrast, deep-focus compositions--which Toland would next use in CITIZEN KANE--make this film a companion to Orson Welles's masterpiece as one of the most sublimely photographed in the medium's history.
During World War II, a crew of hardworking sailors face their most dangerous mission to date: transporting a volatile cachet of explosives through the hostile waters of the Atlantic.
High Seas |