The Info List - Passage To Marseille

Passage to Marseille, also known as Message to Marseille, is a 1944 war film made by Warner Brothers, directed by Michael Curtiz. The screenplay was by Casey Robinson and Jack Moffitt from the novel Sans Patrie (Men Without Country) by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The music score was by Max Steiner
Max Steiner
and the cinematography was by James Wong Howe. Passage to Marseille
is one of the few films to use a flashback within a flashback, within a flashback, following the narrative structure of the novel on which it is based. The film opens at an airbase in England during World War II. Free French
Free French
Captain Freycinet tells a journalist the story of the French pilots stationed there. The second flashback is at the French prison colony at Cayenne
in French Guiana while the third flashback sets the scene where the lead character, Matrac, a newspaper publisher, is framed for a murder to silence him.


1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Production 4 Reception 5 References 6 External links


Bogart as Jean Matrac

In 1942, journalist Manning (John Loder) arrives at an English air base to learn about the Free French
Free French
who are fighting the Germans. Along with Captain Freycinet (Claude Rains), he watches as French bomber crews prepare for a raid. Manning's interest focuses on Jean Matrac (Humphrey Bogart), a gunner, and Freycinet describes Matrac's story: Two years earlier, just before the defeat of France by the Germans, five convicts who escaped from Devil's Island
Devil's Island
are found adrift in a small canoe in the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
by the tramp steamer Ville de Nancy. These five men, Marius (Peter Lorre), Garou (Helmut Dantine), Petit (George Tobias), Renault (Philip Dorn), and their leader, Matrac, are rescued and taken aboard the French freighter commanded by Captain Malo (Victor Francen). Later, when confronted by Captain Freycinet, the five confess to being escaped convicts from the French prison colony at Cayenne
in French Guiana. They had been recruited by Grandpère (Vladimir Sokoloff), a fervently patriotic ex-convict, to fight for France in her hour of need. To Grandpére, the inmates had recounted Matrac's troubles in pre-war France to convince the old man to choose Matrac to lead the escape. A crusading newspaper publisher, Matrac, being opposed to the Munich Pact, had been framed for murder to shut him up. By the time the Ville de Nancy nears the port of Marseille, France has surrendered to Nazi Germany, and a collaborationist Vichy government has been set up. Upon hearing the news, the captain secretly decides not to deliver his valuable cargo to the Germans. Pro-Vichy passenger Major Duval (Sydney Greenstreet) organizes an attempt to seize control of the ship, but is defeated, in great part due to the escapees. When they reach England, the convicts join the Free French
Free French
bomber squadron. As Freycinet finishes his tale, the squadron returns from its mission over France. Renault's bomber is delayed, as Matrac is allowed to drop a letter over his family's house before returning from each mission. His wife Paula (Michèle Morgan) and their son, whom he has never seen, live in occupied France. Renault's bomber finally lands. It has been badly shot up, and Matrac has been killed. After the squadron bury him, Freycinet reads Matrac's letter to his son that had been unable to be delivered. Cast[edit]

Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
as Jean Matrac Claude Rains
Claude Rains
as Captain Freycinet Michèle Morgan
Michèle Morgan
as Paula Philip Dorn
Philip Dorn
as Renault Sydney Greenstreet
Sydney Greenstreet
as Major Duval Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre
as Marius George Tobias
George Tobias
as Petit Helmut Dantine
Helmut Dantine
as Garou John Loder as Manning Victor Francen
Victor Francen
as Captain Patain Malo Vladimir Sokoloff
Vladimir Sokoloff
as Grandpère Eduardo Ciannelli as Chief Engineer Corinna Mura as Singer

Uncredited Cast [1]

Konstantin Shayne
Konstantin Shayne
as 1st Mate Stephen Richards as Lt. Hastings Charles La Torre as Lt. Lenoir Hans Conried
Hans Conried
as Jourdain Monte Blue
Monte Blue
as 2nd Mate Billy Roy as Mess Boy Frederick Brunn as Bijou Louis Mercier as 2nd Engineer

Michèle Morgan
Michèle Morgan
as Paula

Production[edit] Passage to Marseille
reunited much of the cast of Casablanca (1942), also directed by Curtiz, including Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre
and Helmut Dantine. Other actors connected to both productions included Michèle Morgan
Michèle Morgan
who had been the original choice for the female lead for Casablanca; Victor Francen, Philip Dorn
Philip Dorn
and George Tobias
George Tobias
who are also featured. Although exotic locales were called for, principal photography by cinematographer James Wong Howe, actually took place at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden in Arcadia, California with additional location shooting in Victorville, California. Before Bogart began work on the film, pre-production had been underway for six months, but due to a conflict with Jack Warner over another prospective film (coincidentally) called Conflict (1945), his starring role as Matrac was in jeopardy, with Jean Gabin
Jean Gabin
being touted as a replacement.[2] Even when the issue was decided, Bogart's portrayal was hampered by marital difficulties and a lack of commitment to the project.[3] The flying sequences show the Free French
Free French
Air Force (French: Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres, FAFL) using Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers. The production took liberties with the actual bombing campaigns carried out by the Free French
Free French
units, that primarily employed medium bombers such as the Martin B-26 Marauder. The use of the ubiquitous B-17 was due to its being recognizable to American audiences.[4] A scene showing Bogart's character machine gunning the defenseless aircrew of the downed German bomber was cut by censors in foreign releases of the film.[5] Reception[edit] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times
The New York Times
had a favorable review of Passage to Marseille, noting the film's "tough and tempestuous melodrama is something of a sequel, as it were, to the comment on Devil's Island
Devil's Island
which Warner was making five years ago. It is the studio's roaring rejoinder that a vicious and repressive penal code was still not sufficiently able to kill the love of home and freedom in French hearts."[6] References[edit] Notes

^ McCarty, Clifford (1965). Bogey - The Films of Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart
(1st ed.). New York, N.Y.: Cadillac Publishing Co., Inc. p. 116.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Sperber and Law 1997, pp. 217–218. ^ Sperber and Law 1997, p. 218. ^ Hardwick and Schnepf 1983, p. 14. ^ Mayers 1997, p. 156. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Movie review: 'Passage to Marseille' (1944); The screen; 'Passage to Marseille,' a heavy action drama in which free Frenchmen figure, with Bogart, at the Hollywood." The New York Times, February 17, 1944. Retrieved: September 13, 2015. In the review Crowther is referring to the 1939 Boris Karloff
Boris Karloff
film Devil's Island.


Dolan, Edward F. Jr. Hollywood Goes to War. London: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-86124-229-7. Hardwick, Jack and Schnepf, Ed. "A Buff's Guide to Aviation Movies". Air Progress Aviation, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 1983. Meyers, Jeffrey. Bogart: A Life in Hollywood. London: Andre Deutsch Ltd., 1997. ISBN 0-233-99144-1. Sperber, A.M. and Lax, Eric. Bogart. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1997. ISBN 0-688-07539-8.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Passage to Marseille.

Passage to Marseille
at the TCM Movie Database Passage to Marseille
on IMDb Passage to Marseille
at AllMovie Passage to Marseille
at the American Film Institute Catalog

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Films directed by Michael Curtiz


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Virginia City The Sea Hawk Santa Fe Trail The Sea Wolf Dive Bomber Captains of the Clouds Yankee Doodle Dandy Casablanca Mission to Moscow This Is the Army Passage to Marseille Janie Roughly Speaking Mildred Pierce Night and Day Life with Father The Unsuspected Romance on the High Seas My Dream Is Yours
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