"In the bar hangs a cloud, the whiskey's loud, there's laughter in their eyes
The lonely in disguise are clinging to the crowd
And the bottle fills the glass, the haze is fast, he's trembling for the taste
Of passions gone to waste, in memories of the past"
--Phil Ochs, "Pleasures of the Harbor" (1966)
The Long Voyage Home
The Long Voyage Home (1940) is an American drama film and directed by John Ford. It features John Wayne, Thomas Mitchell, Ian Hunter, Barry Fitzgerald, Wilfrid Lawson, John Qualen, Mildred Natwick, Ward Bond, among others.
The film was adapted by Dudley Nichols from the plays The Moon of the Caribees, In The Zone, Bound East for Cardiff, and The Long Voyage Home by Eugene O'Neill. The original plays by Eugene O'Neill were written around the time of World War I and were among his earliest plays. Ford set the story for the motion picture, however, during World War II.
The film tells the story of the crew aboard an English cargo ship named the SS Glencairn, during World War II, on the long voyage home from the West Indies to Baltimore and then to England. The ship carries a cargo of high-explosives.
On liberty, after a night of drinking in bars in the West Indies, the crew returns to the tramp steamer and set sail for Baltimore.
They're a motley group: a middle-aged Irishman Driscoll (Thomas Mitchell), a young Swedish ex-farmer Ole Olsen (John Wayne), the spiteful steward Cocky (Barry Fitzgerald); the brooding Lord Jim-like Englishman Smitty (Ian Hunter), and others.
After the ship picks up a load of dynamite in Baltimore, the rough seas they encounter become nerve-racking to the crew.
They're also concerned that Smitty might be a German spy because he's secretive. After they force Smitty to show them his letters from home it turns out that Smitty is an alcoholic who has run away from his family.
Critic Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, liked the screenplay, the message of the film, and John Ford's direction, and wrote, "John Ford has truly fashioned a modern Odyssey—a stark and tough-fibered motion picture which tells with lean economy the never-ending story of man's wanderings over the waters of the world in search of peace for his soul...it is harsh and relentless and only briefly compassionate in its revelation of man's pathetic shortcomings. But it is one of the most honest pictures ever placed upon the screen; it gives a penetrating glimpse into the hearts of little men and, because it shows that out of human weakness there proceeds some nobility, it is far more gratifying than the fanciest hero-worshiping fare."