One Way Passage
One Way Passage is a 1932 American pre-Code romantic film starring William Powell and Kay Francis as star-crossed lovers, directed by Tay Garnett and released by Warner Bros. The screenplay was by Robert Lord and earned him the Academy Award for Best Story.
|One Way Passage|
Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Tay Garnett|
|Produced by||Hal B. Wallis (uncredited)|
Robert Lord (uncredited)
|Screenplay by||Wilson Mizner|
|Story by||Robert Lord|
|Music by||Leo F. Forbstein|
|Edited by||Ralph Dawson|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Dan Hardesty is an escaped murderer, sentenced to hang and on the run. In a Hong Kong bar, he literally bumps into Joan Ames, a terminally ill woman whose friends are wishing her bon voyage. It is love at first sight. In what will become a signature gesture for the couple, they share a drink, then Dan breaks the bowl of his glass, followed by Joan; they leave the stems crossed on the bar.
San Francisco Police Sergeant Steve Burke captures Dan at gunpoint when he leaves the bar (though out of sight of Joan) and escorts him aboard an ocean liner bound for San Francisco. Dan jumps into the water, dragging Steve with him. He takes the key from Steve’s pocket and frees himself. Then he spots Joan among the passengers looking over the rail at them. He rescues floundering non-swimmer Steve rather than escape. Once the ship is underway, he persuades Steve to remove the handcuffs.
Dan and Joan fall in love on the month-long cruise, neither knowing that the other is under the shadow of death.
By chance, two of Dan's friends are also aboard, pickpocket Skippy and con artist "Barrel House Betty", masquerading as "Countess Barilhaus". The countess distracts Steve as much as she can to help Dan. Just before the only stop, at Honolulu, Steve has Dan put in the brig, but Dan gets out with their help and goes ashore to arrange escape on a steamer leaving that night. Joan intercepts him as he leaves the ship, and they spend an idyllic day together. When they drive back to the dock that evening, Dan starts to tell her why he cannot return to the ship, only to see her faint. Dan carries her aboard for medical help and stays by her side, forfeiting his chance at escape. Later, Joan's doctor tells Dan about her condition and that the slightest excitement or shock could be fatal. Dan tells the doctor the truth about himself.
Meanwhile, a romance blooms between Steve and the countess. When they near the end of the voyage, he awkwardly proposes to her. He wants to give up being a cop and live on a chicken ranch he owns. (Earlier in the film, Betty told Skippy that she dreamed of giving it all up and buying herself a chicken ranch.) She starts to tell him her true identity, but her confession is interrupted when a steward delivers a telegram to Steve. It is from his boss, telling him to find notorious con-woman Barrelhouse Betty and bring her in. He says nothing, as he still wants to marry her. They kiss, and Steve throws the telegram overboard.
Steve and Dan get ready to disembark, an overcoat draped over the handcuffs that link them. On an impulse, Joan goes to their cabin, where a steward who overheard the grim truth tells her about it. She frantically searches for Dan, and finds him with Steve. The two lovers part for the last time without letting on that they know each other's secret, and Joan collapses after Dan is out of sight.
They had agreed to meet again a month later, on New Year's Eve, at a bar in Agua Caliente, Mexico. At the appointed time and place, the dance floor is full, but the long bar is empty except for Skippy, standing solemnly at one end, and two bartenders at the other. The bartenders are startled by the sound of glass breaking. They turn to find the crossed stems and shattered pieces of two cocktail glasses lying on the bar. They glisten there for a moment and then vanish.
- William Powell as Dan [Hardesty]
- Kay Francis as Joan [Ames]
- Aline MacMahon as Betty, aka "Barrel House" Betty and "Countess Barilhaus" and Betty Crowley
- Frank McHugh as Skippy
- Warren Hymer as Steve [Burke]
- Roscoe Karns as Cruise Ship Bartender
- Frederick Burton as The Doctor
- Mike Donlin as Hong Kong bartender
Mordaunt Hall wrote in The New York Times, "In its uncouth, brusque and implausible fashion, 'One Way Passage' ... offers quite a satisfactory entertainment. ... Tay Garnett's direction is clever. He keeps the story on the move with its levity and dashes of far-fetched romance."
In his autobiography Looking for a Street, Charles Willeford describes seeing the movie as a thirteen-year-old:
"One Way Passage" is still my all-time favorite movie, but I have never risked seeing it again. I cried so hard when the movie ended the usher took me out of the lobby and gave me a glass of water.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
One Way Passage was remade in 1940 as 'Til We Meet Again, featuring Merle Oberon, George Brent, Pat O’Brien, Binnie Barnes nd Geraldine Fitzgerald. Although some scenes strongly echo the original, It is not a word for word, shot for shot remake, and there are new characters. Frank McHugh reprises his role as Dan’s pickpocket friend; his perpetually inebriated state is a pose in the later film.
- One Way Passage was presented on Philip Morris Playhouse September 12, 1941.
- One Way Passage was presented on The Screen Guild Theater April 5, 1948 starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Taylor, and Ward Bond.
- One Way Passage was presented on Hollywood Sound Stage February 14, 1952. The 30-minute adaptation starred Ruth Roman and Frank Lovejoy.
- One Way Passage at Kay Francis Films Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback Machine accessed 16 March 2014
- Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 13 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
- "The 6th Academy Awards (1934) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
- Mordaunt Hall (October 14, 1032). "One Way Passage (1932) William Powell and Kay Francis in a Romance on a Vessel Bound From Orient to San Francisco". The New York Times.
- Willeford, Charles (1988) Looking for a Street. The Countryman Press: Woodstock, Vermont. Page 14.
- "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
- "Johnny Presents". Harrisburg Telegraph. September 12, 1941. p. 15. Retrieved July 21, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (February 10, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. Retrieved June 2, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.