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Monday, May 20, 2013

Passage To Marseille (1944)

Told in flashback during WWII, in 1940 five escapees from Devil's Island are picked up by a tramp steamer just before France surrenders to Nazi Germany. Then in a flashback (within the flashback). we find out the backstory of one particular convict, a journalist (Humphrey Bogart) who was falsely convicted of murder and sent to Devil's Island. It seems during WWII that almost every male Star was doing his bit for the war effort by either fighting in the actual war (like Clark Gable, James Stewart or Tyrone Power) or fighting it on celluloid (like Cary Grant, John Wayne or Dana Andrews). Humphrey Bogart did his share and as wartime propaganda, PASSAGE TO MARSEILLE is pretty generic though its flashback within a flashback structure and some violent scenes (Bogart shoots down some German survivors in cold blood) make it a bit more memorable than most of its brethren. Still, its casting is pretty loopy as we're supposed to believe that the American Bogart, the British Claude Rains, the Hungarian Peter Lorre, the Russian Vladimir Sokoloff and the Austrian Helmut Dantine are all Frenchmen. Directed by the prolific Michael Curtiz with Max Steiner, at his worst, doing the score. With the exquisite Michele Morgan (wasted as Bogart's wife), Sydney Greenstreet, John Loder, Philip Dorn and George Tobias.

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