Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Caftan Woman's Choice - One for February on TCM

TCMs annual 31 Days of Oscar is once again upon us and my recommendation for the month is John Ford's The Long Voyage Home from 1940 which was invited to the Oscar party with six nominations, including Best Picture, but left empty-handed after the festivities.

Ford's frequent screenwriting collaborator Dudley Nichols (Stagecoach, The Informer, The Lost Patrol, Pilgramage, Judge Priest, The Hurricane, etc.) had an idea to unite "two poets" when he suggested a film based on Eugene O'Neill's plays of the sea. Ford and Nichols visited and received full approval and co-operation from the playwright and The Long Voyage Home was born. John Ford and Darryl Zanuck of Fox had had one of their falling outs, so Ford took the project to Stagecoach producer Walter Wanger and the movie was released under the Argosy banner.

Innovative cinematographer Gregg Toland, Ford's collaborator on another Best Picture nominee of the season, The Grapes of Wrath, contributed immensely to the poetic, moody feel of The Long Voyage Home. Henry Fonda said in an interview that Ford with his unerring eye "won Oscars for his cameramen", however it is obvious from the above credit card for the film that Ford had great respect for his fellow artist.

Barry Fitzgerald, John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell
David Hughes, John Qualen, Joe Sawyer, Jack Pennick

The Long Voyage Home has a wonderful ensemble of actors who bring to life the men of the Merchant Marine steamer the Glencairn. Our first look at the crew reveals "types" in everybody's pal Driscoll (Thomas Mitchell), the boisterous Yank (Ward Bond), the philosophical Donkeyman (Arthur Shields), the secretive gentleman (Ian Hunter), the youngster (John Wayne), the sneaky Cocky (Barry Fitzgerald) and others. Note: John Wayne was coached in his Swedish accent by actress Ossa Massen.

"The best thing to do with memories is forget them."

Throughout a perilous journey transporting ammunition through the war zone of the Atlantic, fear strips away the facades to reveal the souls of the crew through their trials, longings, bravery, and folly. The Long Voyage Home is an emotional drama filmed with great sensitivity and power.

Oscar nominations and winners:

Cinematography, black and white (winner, George Barnes, Rebecca)
Effects, Special Effects (winner, The Thief of Bagdad)
Film Editing (winner, Anne Bauchens, North West Mounted Police)
Original Score (winner, Pinocchio)
Picture (winner, Rebecca)
Screenplay (winner, Donald Ogden Stewart, The Philadelphia Story)

TCM is screening The Long Voyage Home on Tuesday, February 7th at 7:45 am. Note: the film is not airing on TCM Canada. Three of the cast members, John Qualen, Joe Sawyer, and Douglas Walton were Canadian born.


  1. I love this film. Beautifully photographed. I think Wayne does a fine job as Ole, though I know some think his Swedish accent is off. It's a haunting film and underrated. I probably watch it every other year.

  2. I'm disappointed that TCM is showing "The Long Voyage Home" at such an awkward time. It truly deserves a prime time spot so that more people can learn to love it as we do.

    John Wayne is very sweet and touching as Ole in whom all the rest of the crew place all their lost hopes. There is no doubt the man was a "star", but he truly knew how to share the screen with other actors.

  3. Toland's visuals are great here. What I like most about this film is that John Wayne plays a very different type of character than usual. He may get top-billing but he's really not the star.

  4. Kim, "The Long Voyage Home" is truly an ensemble piece and that can be said of many of Ford's best including "Stagecoach", "How Green Was My Valley" and "The Grapes of Wrath". Actors were cast who really knew their job and rose to the material, Duke included. John Wayne's performance in this film should be a eye-opening for those who have a narrow image of his abilities.

  5. The only John Wayne performance my father said he liked (though I have a feeling he admired "Stagecoach," too).

  6. One certainly cannot fault your father's taste which, I've come to note over the years, he passed on to his son.

  7. Here's a John Wayne movie I missed. Your great article makes me want to check it out! Thanks!

  8. I hope you get the chance to catch the movie. I think TCM should be giving it more of a build-up, but I don't run TCM (more's the pity!).

  9. I haven't seen this is many years, but I'm going to set my clock to get up and watch! I don't have a DVR anymore, but for something really good I'm willing to lose sleep. Thanks for the recommendation, CW!

  10. A beautiful, atmospheric film. Thanks for highlighting this one, CW - you have great taste!

  11. CW,
    Every February I look forward to the Oscars but TCM running previous Oscar winners even more. Glad you highlighted one of Ford's best films.

    A wonderful write up on another well deserved nominee. (We're going to need more popcorn Missy! : )

  12. Well, Becky and FlickChick, looks like we'll be up early and waiting for Page to bring the popcorn.

  13. Popcorn at dawn? I expect eggs benedict and a mimosa -- get on it, Page! LOL!

  14. You girls are tough Oscar Award party goers. : )
    Will popcorn seasoned with gourmet spices do? Not the tacky cheese kind you find in a barrel either! (I've got class)
    Can't wait for the Oscars. The only film I haven't seen is Albert Nobbs and it's because our OKC theaters are so slow on getting certain films here.

  15. John Wayne holds his own with this great cast. This maybe the only time he ever attempted some kind of accent and I think.. once was enough. :)

    1. Actres Osa Massen was his coach. I'm sure Duke was a diligent student.



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