ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT

(1941
With Humphrey Bogart,Conrad Veidt, Kaaren Verne, Jane Darwell, Frank McHugh, Peter Lorre, Judith Anderson, William Demarest, Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers, Wallace Ford, Barton MacLane, Edward Brophy... and Hansel, the Nazi Schnauzer
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

"One false move and we'll have another closeup of Hansel!"      Bogart's first starring picture after THE MALTESE FALCON was reportedly rushed into production.  If so, for a rush job, it's pretty damned terrific.  And jeez, just look at that cast!

    It's almost a Warner Brothers version of a Hitchcock film in which one minor incident (smalltime shady character Bogey doesn't get his usual cheesecake at a local diner) leads to a series of twists and turns that reveal a much larger plot (Nazis planning an attack in Brooklyn). Hitchcock even seems to have borrowed an auction house sequence from ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT for his classic NORTH BY NORTHWEST. As with so many Warner films of this period, ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT switches from action to comedy to drama to propaganda at the drop of a hat without warning or apology, which is one of the (thousands and thousands of) things that make this studio's thirties and forties films fun. My favorite moment: in what is supposed to be a tense climactic moment, Nazi big shot Conrad Veidt mentions his dog Hansel, followed by a goofy, gratuitous closeup of said schnauzer - completely spoiling the dramatic moment.

    Two comedy giants of the fifties appear in small but amusing parts in this film.  Phil Silvers, who plays a waiter, would go on to star in the classic fifties army sit-com Sgt. Bilko (aka The Phil Slivers Show, aka You'll Never Get Rich).  Jackie Gleason, who had just been signed to Warner based on his stage success in New York, is given little to do except spout nonsensical double talk.  Warner Brothers had a huge stable of character actors who could fill in anywhere, and Gleason fit right in - only he didn't fit right in.  Perhaps Warners had too many character actors for Gleason to break through, not unlike a minor league player brought up to play for a baseball team loaded with stars.  ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT was part of Gleason's "cup of coffee" in Hollywood from 1941 to '42 before heading back to the New York stages, where, after a few more Broadway successes, he would become host of the Dumont channel's Cavalcade of Stars where he would invent a fictional couple named Ralph and Alice Kramden, also known as "The Honeymooners". Kinda glad he didn't make it in Hollywood back then, now, aren't you? 3½ - JB

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