Speaking of Bogie, today I stumbled into one of his least known films, at least here on the other side of the Atlantic. "Passage to Marseille" is a blend of prison flick, noir and war film like no other. It stars Bogart as one of those tormented individuals he was born to encarnate. He is a French journalist during the rise of Nazism, and when he understands his own nation is silently surrendering to the Germans he speak outs, obtaining more angry reactions than he expected.
And not only that, soon later he is framed and sent to the Devil's Island, on the French Guayana (Papillon anyone?). There he joins an escape attempt to reach France and fight for his country, now finally convinced it is worth fighting for.
It's a great movie, really. My only quips are a) the structure, which is a bit more messy than it should. A friend of Bogart tells the whole thing to a journalist, and at one point we have flashbacks within flashbacks, which really wasn't needed. And there's b) which is the fervent patriotism the whole film distiles, something understandable given the moment when it was produced, but that calls for a couple of stilted and too solemn moments which I don't want to spoil.
But on the possitive side, there's Bogart, accompanied by heavies such as Claude Rains and Peter Lorre and a rather unique blend of genres. i was quite pleased with the prison-flick parts of the movie, and specially with the big action climax, which involves Bogart's ship being attacked by a German bomber. The models are cheesy, you bet, but there's something in the clean editing and the acting of Bogart that turns it into a highly suspenseful sequence, something that the likes of Michael Bay will never achieve by themselves.