This is a remake (of the William Powell - Kay Francis film ONE WAY PASSAGE) that actually lives up to the merits of the original. It is rare for remakes to be as good as the films they replace in public circulation (think of Marlon Brando's and Mel Gibson's two versions of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY - and THE BOUNTY - and compare their more "balanced" views of Captain Bligh with the original 1935 classic with Clark Gable, Charles Laughton, and Franchot Tone). Powell and Francis made the doomed lovers in the original fine characterizations. They were hard to beat. Yet in this film (made under a decade later), George Brent and Merle Oberon did as well with the parts.
Brent and Oberon are usually considered, somewhat unfairly, second-raters as performers. Not quite true at all. Oberon was more than memorable as Catherine Earnshaw in WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and she was an accomplished comedian in films like THAT UNCERTAIN FEELING. Brent was not a stiff actor in all of his roles - frequently his parts required him to be quiet too much of the time, or parts were edited out. Witness his role in THE GREAT LIE, where one wonders what Bette Davis and Mary Astor see in him to battle for. Witness too how the restored version of BABY FACE with Barbara Stanwyck made his suicide attempt at the end more reasonable to accept than in the version that had been cut up and circulated for years. His tycoon/playboy is legitimately feeling used, unloved, betrayed by his scheming wife, and Stanwyck's own behavior makes more than enough sense when she does return to him to stand by him in an investigation (not to give up all their wealth as in the idiotic ending of the cut version). If one wants to see Brent in a good role (with meaty scenes and dialog) try his hoofer in FORTY SECOND STREET or his brain surgeon in DARK VICTORY or his madman in THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE. He could act when given the chance.
In 'TIL WE MEET AGAIN he and Oberon were given a chance. Like Powell in the original (and similar to Joan Bennett's character in TRADE WINDS), he is on a ship headed across the Pacific Ocean to avoid facing execution for a murder. Brent did kill the man (whom both detective Pat O'Brien and Brent's friend Frank McHugh realize was a bigger creep than most people), but it is murder and he was convicted - but managed to escape. O'Brien has tracked him down to the cruise ship, intending to return with him to the U.S. Brent (hopefully with assistance by McHugh and Binnie Barnes) plans to get off and get lost in one of the Asian lands with no extradition to the U.S. (the actual situation of Japanese threatened militarism in this film is gleefully overlooked - but it is meant to be a fantasy).
Unfortunately for Brent he meets the charming, wealthy Oberon (travelling with her friend and companion Geraldine Fitzgerald - as pointed out Brent and Fitgerald were both in DARK VICTORY together). They hit it off. But she does not want him to know, as their romance blooms, that she has a fatal illness. He, similarly, is keeping from her that he is (unless he successfully evades O'Brien) going to be executed in the States. But every time he is about to escape somehow she inadvertently prevents it - until he accidentally learns her secret. At that point he stops trying to flee. Subsequently she learns his secret as well. She makes an attempt to help him escape - but he won't take it. Secretly they both realize that death will actually unite them forever, so why fight it?
There are nice touches in the film, the best remembered being the "paradise cocktails" that the doomed lovers drink together - a leitmotif that goes through most of the movie until a final, somewhat mysterious (but hopefully true) concluding shot.
There is also the development of O'Brien's character. Warren Hymer had played the detective in the earlier version but as a combination of his comic bumbler and his serious business worker (determined not to lose Powell). But O'Brien's character gets to know (and fall for) Barnes, who reciprocates but still tries to use her hold on him to help Brent. It leads to a climax between them when O'Brien tells her he knows what she tried to do, and forgives her because he loves her, but he also knows her life style (as a con woman) will probably destroy her unless she changes. It is an intense scene, and an odd one for Barnes, who usually is in control of her emotions - she falls apart realizing O'Brien is right (and he does show he'll help save her).
Finally there is McHugh, who plays a pretend drunk, always able to time his escape from the local police so he jumps onto a convenient getaway vehicle as they arrive angrily screaming at him. He adds to their discomfort by jeering at them. The film ends with him all alone (Brent dead, Barnes married with O'Brien), and tearfully considering his isolation - something that was part of his criminal persona for so long.
All in all 'TIL WE MEET AGAIN is a first rate movie, and should convince the viewer that Brent and Oberon (while not Bogart and Davis) were worthy performers when given good material.
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