Monday, May 27, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Gangway for Tomorrow (1943) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

GANGWAY FOR TOMORROW (1943), a World War II morale-boosting film, has just been released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Like the prior year's Warner Bros. film WINGS FOR THE EAGLE (1942), this RKO movie pays tribute to defense plant workers. It's a bit unusual in that it's something of an anthology film; as Jim Benson (Charles Arnt) drives five of his coworkers to the factory, each of their unique stories is told in flashback, emphasizing how people from all backgrounds and walks of life are working together to win the war.

The most gripping story belongs to Lisette (Margo), a singer who worked with the French Resistance. Lisette's friends are executed by the Nazis, but she escapes and is able to warn others in their network and then ultimately makes her way to America. This sequence is both memorable and disturbing, including an execution scene in which Lisette must part with her pianist boyfriend Jean (Richard Martin, who later played Chito in Tim Holt Westerns).

Joe (Robert Ryan) was a race car driver seriously injured in a crash just before he was due to enlist; sad that he's now unable to serve, he tells his friends "I'll make 'em and you fly 'em." The film is a good opportunity to see Ryan in an early role, released just ahead of his breakthrough part the same year in TENDER COMRADE (1943).

In the third flashback, Mary Jones (Amelita Ward), a former Miss America, gives up her floundering career in show business to build planes, hoping to help her boyfriend (William Terry) make it safely home from his wartime service.

The two strangest stories belong to to Tom (James Bell) and Mr. Wellington (John Carradine). Tom is a former prison warden who suffered through having to order his brother's execution, which led to their mother's death from the stress. Mr. Wellington was a hobo living "off the grid" who decides to do something to help when he realizes what's going on in the world.

With the movie running only 69 minutes, the flashback stories are necessarily fairly short. Overall they're moderately interesting, though I'm really not sure why Tom's ultra-downer story was included in this patriotic film; I felt it was a rather bizarre inclusion.

Those who share my interest in WWII morale-boosting films will find the film of the greatest value. The flag-waving final moments, as the workers march into the factory while war planes fly overhead to the music of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," is worth waiting for. I'm sure there are those who would find it over the top, but I like to imagine what the public would have felt in 1943, and I'm sure those working in the military and defense plants, along with their families, would have found it encouraging.

GANGWAY FOR TOMORROW was directed by John H. Auer and filmed in black and white by Nicholas Musuraca. The screenplay was by Arch Oboler, from an original story by Aladar Laszlo.

The cast also includes Harry Davenport, Sam McDaniel, Alan Carney, Wally Brown, Warren Hymer, and Rita Corday.

The Warner Archive DVD is a good print. There are no extras on the disc.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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7:49 PM  

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