The Long Voyage Home


1h 45m 1940
The Long Voyage Home

Brief Synopsis

A merchant ship's crew tries to survive the loneliness of the sea and the coming of war.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Nov 11, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 9 Oct 1940
Production Company
Argosy Corp.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the sea plays Bound East For Cardiff (Provincetown, Mass., 28 Jul 1916), In The Zone (New York, 31 Oct 1917), The Long Voyage Home (New York, 2 Nov 1917) and The Moon of the Caribees (New York, 20 Dec 1918) by Eugene O'Neill.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

On the long voyage home from the West Indies to Baltimore and then to England, the British tramp steamer the Glencairn takes aboard a cargo of munitions, a circumstance which turns the natural complaining of the crew into a case of genuine fear. Those fears are realized when a heavy gale tests the mettle of the ship and in the storm, mountainous waves hurtle the sailor Yank to the seething deck, thus bringing him to his death as his shipmates, Ole Olson and Driscoll, watch helplessly. As they approach land, the crew begins to suspect their brooding, aloof shipmate, Smitty, of sending signals to the Nazis, but they discover that Smitty has really withdrawn in disgrace from his family and all those around him because of his alchoholism. This revelation forces Smitty to resolve to return to his wife and children, but the reunion is tragically doomed when a Nazi plane swoops down from the skies off England and Smitty is killed in the attack. Safely in port after their harrowing crossing, the crew channel their energies into making sure that Ole leaves the sea to return to his aged mother in Sweden, but after bidding his friends farewell, Ole is shanghaied aboard the Amindra . Rescued by Driscoll and his other mates, Ole's voyage ends happily. Not so for Driscoll, because in the rescue he is taken prisoner and sails off aboard the Amindra in Ole's place. As the remaining seafarers return to the Glencairn to resume their long journey, they learn that Driscoll perished aboard the Amindra when the ship was sunk by a torpedo.

Photo Collections

The Long Voyage Home - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from The Long Voyage Home (1940), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Nov 11, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 9 Oct 1940
Production Company
Argosy Corp.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the sea plays Bound East For Cardiff (Provincetown, Mass., 28 Jul 1916), In The Zone (New York, 31 Oct 1917), The Long Voyage Home (New York, 2 Nov 1917) and The Moon of the Caribees (New York, 20 Dec 1918) by Eugene O'Neill.

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

1940

Best Editing

1940
Sherman Todd

Best Picture

1940

Best Score

1940

Best Special Effects

1941

Best Writing, Screenplay

1941

Articles

The Long Voyage Home


The Glencairn, a British steamer returning home to England from the West Indies, stops in Baltimore to pick up a load of munitions. The crew includes Ole Olsen, a young Swede who wants nothing more than to return home to his wife and is protected by fellow Swede Axel; Smitty, who carries the secret shame of losing his wife to alcoholism; and the brawling but loyal Driscoll. The voyage proves more dangerous than any of them could have imagined - with violent storms, a kidnapping and attacks by Nazi planes, not all of the close-knit crew will make it home alive.

The Long Voyage Home (1940) was adapted by Dudley Nichols, who updated and wove together four early one-act sea-themed plays written by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill from 1914 to 1919. Not only was Nichols a friend of O'Neill, he later directed a film version of Mourning Becomes Electra (1947). The result here, while rather free in its treatment of O'Neill's original material, pleased O'Neill so much that he counted it among his favorite films and kept a personal print of it which he viewed regularly. Director John Ford was under contract with Fox at the time but was allowed to make one film a year outside the studio. Together with his buddy Merian Cooper he founded the independent production company Argosy Pictures, named after his fishing boat. Walter Wanger, with whom he had collaborated so successfully on Stagecoach (1939), agreed to finance the film. Subsequent Argosy productions included The Fugitive (1947), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Wagon Master (1950).

One significant factor in the film's artistic success is undoubtedly its strong ensemble acting from John Ford regulars such as Thomas Mitchell, Ward Bond and John Qualen. For John Wayne the role of Olsen, the idealistic young sailor, was a particular challenge since it required him to adopt a Swedish accent and an altogether different persona from his usual cowboy roles. Danish actress Osa Massen worked closely with him to develop a credible accent. Wayne recalls, "The night before I went to work for the first day's shooting on that picture I worked until probably midnight on a picture that we'd made in six days for Republic. I had to play a straight part as my accent couldn't clash with John Qualen's, who was playing a comic Swede. I wanna tell you, that was quite a switch from the night before, knocking people around and jumping on a horse." Although some critics today consider John Wayne miscast in this role, particularly due to the Swedish accent, Wayne himself considered it one of his finest performances. Noted stage actress Mildred Natwick made her screen debut here as the prostitute. Natwick said of the production: "Ford was a wonderful director, and I think he knew how nervous I was. He really told me everything to do; it was marvelous coaching. When I had to make my entrance, I remember he said, 'Why don't you have your sweater down and sort of be pulling it up over your shoulder?' [...] He just made me so comfortable. He took a lot of time and nurtured me along."

Gregg Toland made The Long Voyage Home among the most beautifully photographed black-and-white films of the era, its low-key lighting and deep focus photography contributing to the pessimistic atmosphere of the film and directly foreshadowing his work on Citizen Kane (1941). Variety characterized Toland's work here as "a masterpiece." Wanger, who considered it an "art" film and hoped to appeal to an elite audience, commissioned ten paintings by various contemporary artists depicting scenes from the film and organized a traveling exhibit at cities across the country. Although The Long Voyage Home was praised lavishly by the critics - John Mosher of The New Yorker called it "one of the most magnificent films in film history" - it failed to turn a profit at the box office in comparison with lighter fare released at the same time such as the Betty Grable musical Down Argentine Way (1940). Nonetheless, the film received seven Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Black and White Cinematography, Best editing, Best Score, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. Ford was so proud of the film that he displayed stills from it on the walls of his home.

Director: John Ford
Producer: Walter Wanger, John Ford
Screenplay: Dudley Nichols, adapted from four one-act plays by Eugene O'Neill: "The Moon of the Caribees", "In the Zone", "Bound East for Cardiff" and "The Long Voyage Home"
Cinematography: Gregg Toland
Editor: Sherman Todd
Music: Richard Hageman
Art Designer: James Basevi
Principal Cast: John Wayne (Ole Olsen), Thomas Mitchell (Driscoll), Ian Hunter (Smitty), Barry Fitzgerald (Cocky), Wilfrid Lawson (Captain), Mildred Natwick (Freda), John Qualen (Axel), Ward Bond (Yank), Arthur Shields (Donkeyman), Joseph Sawyer (Davis).
BW-106m.

by James Steffen
The Long Voyage Home

The Long Voyage Home

The Glencairn, a British steamer returning home to England from the West Indies, stops in Baltimore to pick up a load of munitions. The crew includes Ole Olsen, a young Swede who wants nothing more than to return home to his wife and is protected by fellow Swede Axel; Smitty, who carries the secret shame of losing his wife to alcoholism; and the brawling but loyal Driscoll. The voyage proves more dangerous than any of them could have imagined - with violent storms, a kidnapping and attacks by Nazi planes, not all of the close-knit crew will make it home alive. The Long Voyage Home (1940) was adapted by Dudley Nichols, who updated and wove together four early one-act sea-themed plays written by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O'Neill from 1914 to 1919. Not only was Nichols a friend of O'Neill, he later directed a film version of Mourning Becomes Electra (1947). The result here, while rather free in its treatment of O'Neill's original material, pleased O'Neill so much that he counted it among his favorite films and kept a personal print of it which he viewed regularly. Director John Ford was under contract with Fox at the time but was allowed to make one film a year outside the studio. Together with his buddy Merian Cooper he founded the independent production company Argosy Pictures, named after his fishing boat. Walter Wanger, with whom he had collaborated so successfully on Stagecoach (1939), agreed to finance the film. Subsequent Argosy productions included The Fugitive (1947), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Wagon Master (1950). One significant factor in the film's artistic success is undoubtedly its strong ensemble acting from John Ford regulars such as Thomas Mitchell, Ward Bond and John Qualen. For John Wayne the role of Olsen, the idealistic young sailor, was a particular challenge since it required him to adopt a Swedish accent and an altogether different persona from his usual cowboy roles. Danish actress Osa Massen worked closely with him to develop a credible accent. Wayne recalls, "The night before I went to work for the first day's shooting on that picture I worked until probably midnight on a picture that we'd made in six days for Republic. I had to play a straight part as my accent couldn't clash with John Qualen's, who was playing a comic Swede. I wanna tell you, that was quite a switch from the night before, knocking people around and jumping on a horse." Although some critics today consider John Wayne miscast in this role, particularly due to the Swedish accent, Wayne himself considered it one of his finest performances. Noted stage actress Mildred Natwick made her screen debut here as the prostitute. Natwick said of the production: "Ford was a wonderful director, and I think he knew how nervous I was. He really told me everything to do; it was marvelous coaching. When I had to make my entrance, I remember he said, 'Why don't you have your sweater down and sort of be pulling it up over your shoulder?' [...] He just made me so comfortable. He took a lot of time and nurtured me along." Gregg Toland made The Long Voyage Home among the most beautifully photographed black-and-white films of the era, its low-key lighting and deep focus photography contributing to the pessimistic atmosphere of the film and directly foreshadowing his work on Citizen Kane (1941). Variety characterized Toland's work here as "a masterpiece." Wanger, who considered it an "art" film and hoped to appeal to an elite audience, commissioned ten paintings by various contemporary artists depicting scenes from the film and organized a traveling exhibit at cities across the country. Although The Long Voyage Home was praised lavishly by the critics - John Mosher of The New Yorker called it "one of the most magnificent films in film history" - it failed to turn a profit at the box office in comparison with lighter fare released at the same time such as the Betty Grable musical Down Argentine Way (1940). Nonetheless, the film received seven Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Black and White Cinematography, Best editing, Best Score, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. Ford was so proud of the film that he displayed stills from it on the walls of his home. Director: John Ford Producer: Walter Wanger, John Ford Screenplay: Dudley Nichols, adapted from four one-act plays by Eugene O'Neill: "The Moon of the Caribees", "In the Zone", "Bound East for Cardiff" and "The Long Voyage Home" Cinematography: Gregg Toland Editor: Sherman Todd Music: Richard Hageman Art Designer: James BaseviPrincipal Cast: John Wayne (Ole Olsen), Thomas Mitchell (Driscoll), Ian Hunter (Smitty), Barry Fitzgerald (Cocky), Wilfrid Lawson (Captain), Mildred Natwick (Freda), John Qualen (Axel), Ward Bond (Yank), Arthur Shields (Donkeyman), Joseph Sawyer (Davis). BW-106m. by James Steffen

Quotes

Trivia

'Wayne, John' was asked by director 'Ford, John' to play the part of Ole Olson, who happened to be Swedish. Wayne wasn't sure he could pull off the Swedish accent, and was worried that the audience would laugh. Ford persuaded Wayne to take the role.

Bound East for Cardiff opened in Provincetown, Massachusetts on 28 July 1916. In the Zone opened in New York on 31 October 1917. The Long Voyage Home opened in New York on 2 November 1917. The Moon of the Caribees opened in New York on 20 December 1918.

Notes

According to Life, the picture was filmed aboard the freighter the S.S. Munami at Wilmington Harbor, CA. The film marked the screen debut of stage actress Mildred Natwick. This was the first production of John Ford's Argosy Corp. Modern sources note that under his Fox contract, John Ford was allowed to make one feature per year outside the studio. To make this film, he and Walter Wanger set up Argosy. The next Argosy production was The Fugitive, made in 1947. The Long Voyage Home was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Black and White Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Special Photographic Effects, Best Sound and Best Screenplay. It also was included in the National Board of Review's "ten best" list of 1940.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 11, 1940

Released in United States November 1971

Based on the sea plays "Bound East For Cardiff", "In The Zone", "The Long Voyage Home" and "The Moon of the Caribees" by Eugene O'Neill.

Released in United States November 1971 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (A Tribute to the American Cinema) November 4-14, 1971.)

Released in United States Fall November 11, 1940