Dan Hardesty (George Brent) and Joan Ames (Merle Oberon) are strangers who meet in a bar in Hong Kong. They share one drink and then part ways, never expecting to see one another again.
As fate would have it, though, Dan and Joan are about to board the very same ship, headed for San Francisco. After coming aboard, they reunite, excited to get to know each other better at sea.
That doesn’t mean a happy ending for the pair, though. You see, Dan is traveling on the ship on his way to prison (for murder, no less)… and Joan only has a few months to live, due to a heart condition.
‘Til We Meet Again was directed by Edmund Goulding. The screenplay was written by Warren Duff from an original story by Robert Lord. Lord’s story was also filmed eight years earlier as One Way Passage, starring William Powell and Kay Francis.
‘Til We Meet Again is a sweet and slow romance with an undercurrent of worry and sadness due to the secrets held by both Joan and Dan. The viewer knows it’s virtually impossible that things will work out for the pair, lending more than a hint of melancholy to even the sweetest scenes.
It helps that Brent and Oberon have such wonderful chemistry from the start. That meet-cute over Paradise Cocktails is almost too cute. They’re impossible not to root for.
Oberon in particular is splendidly cast. She’s so lovely and lively, giving the viewer a deep sense of just how awful it will be for her to lose her life at such a young age. Oberon’s performance is endearing and sympathetic.
Though the film is definitely a weepy, the waterworks don’t run throughout. Brent has some fun banter with Pat O’Brien, portraying a cop who has been tailing him and is tasked with making sure he doesn’t make a run for it. The cop, in turn, has a fun little romantic subplot with a con woman. Frank McHugh (who also appeared in One Way Passage) brings some comic relief, as a not-quite-upstanding pal of Dan.
While ‘Til We Meet Again can be a bit slow and somewhat repetitive, it’s worth tuning in for. Merle Oberon gives a beautiful performance, and the sweetly sad story was enough to keep me interested (though I did think One Way Passage the more successful of the two adaptations).