The Long Voyage Home
If I’d had to guess whose stories were being adapted for this tale of a tramp steamer carrying high explosives through Nazi-sub-infested waters, Eugene O’Neill would have been way down on my list. But it’s true, these were very early one-act efforts by him. They are “The Moon of the Caribees,” “In The Zone,” “Bound East for Cardiff,” and “The Long Voyage Home.” The screenplay is by Dudley Nichols and it’s directed by John Ford. Top billing goes to John Wayne, and his old buddy Ward Bond is there, too. The stories themselves are pretty good, but the characters are completely stock. These are hard-drinking seamen, the sort who exist only in rollicking Hollywood movies where working-class men wade into a bar fight with big smiles on their faces and witty quips on their tongues. I know there are men who love to fight, but I don’t think they smile, I think they are enraged. Worse, we have Thomas Mitchell and Barry Fitzgerald as comic-opera Irishmen, and John Qualen as a Swede who precedes or punctuates about 70% of his sentences with “By Yimini!” Worst of all we have John Wayne. I’m a big fan of the man, in the right part. This part could hardly have been a worse choice. He’s supposed to be a big Swede, a big dumb Swede, possibly even retarded, and he’s just not up to it. His accent is perfectly awful. The only saving grace is that he has very few lines. So, good story, good photography, a swell action scene during a huge storm … all spoiled by the clichéd characters.