The Long Voyage Home by John Ford (1940, 103 min., 35mm). The powers and fascinations of director John Ford and playwright Eugene O’Neill are happily met in this 1940 feature dramatizing the lives of men who serve as crew members aboard commercial freighters. Adapted and updated by screenwriter Dudley Nichols from four of O’Neill’s early plays set aboard the fictional SS Glencairn, the film recounts the experiences of the ship’s crew while transporting ammunition from the West Indies to England during World War II. The story thus presents four mini-dramas, each with its own catharsis, while neatly making general points about the specialized society in which these men live—disregarded by callous superiors, consigned to repeated voyages for lack of better work, and developing codes of honor and friendships that sustain them through the severe physical and psychological hardships of their lives. Nichols and Ford expertly martial the unconventional, four-part structure to create recurrent emotional surges, as endurance and loyalty are tested again and again. Description written by Shannon Kelley, UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Preservation funding provided by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation.