All Through the Night [1942]

The movie that made Humphrey Bogart Humphrey Bogart anchors this second DVD box devoted to the mighty star. The Maltese Falcon gets--and merits--the deluxe three-disc treatment, and the other Bogie movies collected here are solid vehicles from his early 1940s Warner Bros. heyday. The essence of Bogart's world-weary yet mysteriously romantic aura is on luscious display, even if most of these films fall just short of classic status. Bogart's letter-perfect incarnation as Sam Spade, the anti-hero of John Huston's debut film as a director, grounds The Maltese Falcon in a smart, sardonic groove. Even if Spade is one of Bogart's finest turns, it's hard to single out the film's best performance: Mary Astor as the mystery dame who trips off the case, Peter Lorre as the fey Joel Cairo, or Sydney Greenstreet as the massively erudite Kasper Gutman (the latter making one of the great debuts in film history). Dashiell Hammett's best-selling story had been filmed twice before, and both versions are included in the extras here: the 1931 Maltese Falcon, which has a fair amount of cheek and some near-identical snatches of Hammett dialogue as the 1941 film--but without the magic--and the 1936 Satan Met a Lady, which puts the story squarely in the realm of screwball comedy, with Warren William and Bette Davis acting as though they'd wandered into a Thin Man movie. Other extras include a commentary with Bogart biography Eric Lax, three radio versions of the tale, and a short documentary about the Falcon. Huston also directed Across the Pacific, a fun and somewhat tongue-in-cheek picture that brought Bogart, Astor, and Greenstreet back together. After being drummed out of the military, Bogie finds himself aboard a ship sailing toward the Panama Canal--and as the date of Dec. 7, 1941, looms on the horizon, we suspect intrigue. Also from 1942 is the wisecracking All Through the Night, which is set entirely in a Damon Runyon NYC but nevertheless unearths a nest of Nazis (Conrad Veidt among them) planning a homeland attack. WWII figures in the other two features. Michael Curtiz's Passage to Marseille (1944) burdens itself with too many flashbacks, but otherwise presents a nicely atmospheric tale of Devil's Island escapees trying to get home to fight for France. Lorre and Greenstreet are back, with Michele Morgan snuggling Bogart in the Casablanca-inspired love story. Action in the North Atlantic (1943) is a more conventional picture, with Bogart and Raymond Massey fighting the war in the Merchant Marines; the topnotch action sequences and crusty supporting cast keep it going. Bogart's covert socking of a loose-lipped bar patron gives us the vintage Bogie. Bartender: "Did you hurt your hand?" Bogie: "Never do." --Robert Horton

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