This forgotten gem stars John Wayne. Based on four one-act plays by Eugene O’Neill, the film follows the lives of the sailors aboard a freighter ship. They’re comrades and stick together through thick and thin, but at sea, loneliness and of fear enemy submarines come between them and make them suspicious of each other. When they’re not facing the troubles at sea, they’re having too good of a time on land. The real tension comes when they need to make sure that Ole (Wayne) gets aboard his ship so he can go back home to Sweden. They drunkenly run around town for “one more drink” and “just one dance” trying to live as much as they can before they’re cast back to the sea. While Ole is waiting for his friends to have their fill, a man has been following them, trying to find one more man to sail on a famously dreaded ship, the Amindra. Till the end, it’s a nail biter to see if Ole will get home or not.
Wayne fans will notice something very odd; he’s playing a Swedish man. At first, Wayne was apprehensive to the role, thinking people would laugh at his attempt at a Swedish accent, but director John Ford talked him into it. I’ll admit, it’s a little funny at first to hear Wayne’s cowboy voice say, “Ya, from Sveeden.” But we’ve got to give him props for branching out, he does it well and we never laugh at him. Maybe with him.
In my opinion, The Long Voyage Home only bows Rebecca in cinematography. Shots are set up beautifully and leave a lasting impression of the film. When a man is punched in the barroom, the camera is graceful as he stubles down the bar. A man is killed in a lifeboat and covered with a tarp flapping in the wind is captured with surprising elegance. We watch men approach their ship from under the boarding ramp. It’s genius, beautiful and more sophisticated than I expected for 1940, but then, so is John Ford.
The Long Voyage Home is a good movie for guys. They can join this band of shipmates as they drink, party and face hard times together. Sorry, no quote today.