The trailer for All Through the Night pitches Humphrey Bogart’s performance as “even greater than in The Maltese Falcon,” but needless to say, the movie and Bogart don’t reach quite those heights. Vincent Sherman’s film is a decent bit of anti-Nazi entertainment, but has none of the wit or intrigue of the John Huston film that launched Bogart to stardom.
Bogart plays “Gloves” Donahue, a gambler who starts uncovering a Nazi spy ring in New York after his mother’s neighbor goes missing. When Gloves is wrongly implicated in a murder, he and his pal Sunshine (William Demarest) go on the run to infiltrate the spy ring, stop their planned attack, and prove Gloves’ innocence. The story features every expected character, including a love interest (Kaaren Verne), a seedy henchman (the always reliable Peter Lorre), and a Nazi as the villain (Conrad Veidt).
What’s strange about the film is that despite its messages about the dangers of Nazism (the film was shot before the attack on Pearl Harbor), Leonard Spigelgass and Edwin Gilbert’s screenplay tries somewhat unsuccessfully to blend this thriller with a lot of slapstick comedy. Funny as they both can be, William Demarest and Bogart have different styles of comedy that don’t work when they come up against each other. That’s not to say Bogart can’t be funny—it’s just that he’s a lot wittier than the material written for him. Some of the comedy satirizing Nazism works, however, a precursor to Ernst Lubitsch’s full-on Nazi satire To Be or Not to Be.
Like most Bogart vehicles from this time, All Through the Night is reasonably entertaining, but pales in comparison to the classics—especially when it shares not only the star, but several supporting actors from those films. If anything, it helps us see just how fine-tuned the screenplays for The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca really are.
Where to Watch
Buy it on DVD