As appropriate today…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

As appropriate today… when it was spoken almost 70 years ago, perhaps even more so.

The speaker is stock player Barton MacLane in reply to Humphrey Bogart's patriotic exhorta­tion in a relatively minor Warner Brothers release, "All Through the Night."

Bogie, as New York gangster "Gloves Donahue" when his crew stumbles across a nest of for­eign fifth columnists and spies:

"Those babies are strictly no good from way down deep. They're no bunch of petty racketeers trying to muscle in on some small territory - they want to move in wholesale, take over the whole country."

MacLane as rival mobster "Marty Callahan:"

"So what? It don't make no difference to me who runs the country, as long as they stay out of my way."

Social critics have long ruminated about why the public takes to gangsters on the screen, and that one line seems to encapsulate one reason perfectly.

The film, released in the same year as "High Sierra" and "The Maltese Falcon," and seven weeks before the indelible "Casablanca," is notable mostly in that it caught Bogie on the cusp of his great popularity.

The story involves a bunch of distinctly Noo Yawk characters who could have just as easily been created by Damon Runyon as screen­writer Leonard Spigelgass.

And the brothers Warner emptied out their ample bullpen of familiar stock players, from Frank McHugh and William Demarest to Phil Silvers and Jackie Gleason as some of Bogie's cohorts.

The sinister characters against whom the Midtown demi-monde unite are unidentified but clearly Nazis... "All Through the Night" was released one week to the day before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, so the United States was not officially involved in any in­ternational conflict.

But with the heavies led by Conrad Veidt (memorable the following month as "Major Strasser"), Peter Lorre and Martin Kosleck who made a career portraying Joseph Goebbels, there was no doubt about to which flag they clicked their heels.

Good movie, terrific cast... and one great line!

(Thanks for the suggestion, Marty and Steven.)


1. Hampton West said...

Have not seen this one in quite some time but will seek it out. Didn't realize it was in the same year as "Casablanca."

Actually, two different years although just a month apart.

One thing to be said for the old "studio system:" they turned out a high volume of movies in those days! Bogie was in four releases in 1941; two years earlier, he was in seven!

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