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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not only did "Across the Pacific" add some brightness to Bogart's
rising stature as an actor, it more than justified the promise shown by
director John Huston after his success with "The Maltese Falcon."
The story begins on November 17, 1941. Lt. Rick Leland (Humphrey Bogart) is being cashiered from the Army at Governor's Island, New York The reasons are vague, but before five minutes have passed, Bogie is decked out in his familiar trenchcoat Leland tries to enlist in the Canadian army, but his disgrace is so widespread that they won't have him Wondering aloud if perhaps the Japanese will take him on, Leland buys a ticket on the 'Genoa Maru' bound for Yokohama via the Panama Canal On board the freighter, Leland meets Alberta Marlow (Mary Astor), who lies about her past, and Dr. Lorenz (Sydney Greenstreet), a sociologist with an undisguised affinity for all things Japanese
It's really not spoiling anything to reveal that Leland is engaged in counterespionage because neither Huston nor the screenwriters take the material very seriously For most of the film, they're more interested in the cutesy shipboard romance between Leland and Albertagetting seasick, drunk, sunburned
As a thriller, the film doesn't really get wound up until the third act, when it has a few fine moments, most memorably a long chase scene in a Spanish-language movie theater, and a conventional conclusion
Sydney Greenstreet was excellent as a jovial yet cunning Japanese sympathizer and Mary Astor played a doubtful role with the same mental adroitness she had displayed in "The Maltese Falcon."
Bogart, of course, carried the story line here and it was a delight to watch his enigmatic character change from one of calculated indifference to that of relentless determination...
John Huston's second film reunited three of his key actors from The Maltese
Falcon(1941). This war time thriller takes place before the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor. Across the Pacific(1942) is about a disgraced solider who
tries to redeem himself by acting as a spy for the US government. Humphrey
Bogart plays the American spy, Rick Leland in his most cool and suave
performance. Leland's mission is to prevent the Japanese from bombing the
Sydney Greenstreet as Dr. Lorenz gives a performance that's absolutely sinister. He would have made a perfect James Bond Villain had he lived during the 1950's. Across the Pacific(1942) is an entertaining motion picture that realisticly parallels the war that was occuring in the Pacific. Mary Astor is ravishing as the mysterious Alberta. Only the majority of the movie was completed for John Huston went off to join the war effort(another filmmaker involved with the film named Vincent Sherman ended up filming the final scenes).
This film is okay -- watchable and even interesting -- but one can't
help comparing it to "The Maltese Falcon" which appeared the previous
year. Same principle actors -- Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet
-- no Peter Lorre fondling the handle of his cane, alas, and no gunsel
-- and, for the most part, the same Director, John Huston. Huston was
called up for Signal Corps duty halfway through filming and as a gag
shot the scenes up to the point at which Bogart was strapped helplessly
into a chair and surrounded by armed guards, a situation seemingly
without the possibility of escape. Then Huston cheerfully said goodbye
and walked off the set, leaving his replacement, Vincent Sherman, to
try to figure out how to get Bogart free.
It may be unfair to compare "Across the Pacific" to a lucky shot like "The Maltese Falcon," but this film invites the comparison. Not just the same performers but similar lines -- "You're good, Angel, very, very good." But in Falcon the actors fit their fictional characters like enzymes accommodating themselves to a substrate. Here they are just actors playing familiar roles: the obese villain, the officer who's dishonorable discharge is faked so he can go undercover (Gary Cooper could have done as well, and in fact DID in a later movie), the innocent woman made to look bad because the enemy has imprisoned her dissolute father. The Japanese are all plain-vanilla bad guys, even the familiar young one who makes amusing wisecracks in American slang. And all the Japanese have real names like Tong, Chan, Loo, Fong, and Ahn. (To be fair, the last one is Korean, not Chinese.)
If the characters are not nearly as much fun to watch as in "The Maltese Falcon," the plot is no more than a simple war-time mystery involving secret information that the Japanese want to use to start the war by torpedoing the locks of the Panama Canal. Actually, the Japanese did develop such plans later in the war. They intended to deliver a handful of torpedo planes to the vicinity of the Canal in huge submarines, which were available. The planes were not, and the plans folded when the war ended.
In the movie, the characters move from New York to Canada, then board a Japanese steamer, back to New York, then to Panama, where they disembark. They travel from the Atlantic side of the canal to the Pacific -- but they never make it across the Pacific.
A good spy caper starring Humphrey Bogart as Rick Leland, a court-martialled
US Army officer who finds himself in the middle of a nifty little bit of
espionage work on board a Japanese freighter bound from Halifax to Yokohama
via the Panama Canal just before the attack on Pearl Harbour. Surrounded by
a rather suspicious group of characters, from his love interest Alberta
Marlow (Mary Astor) to Dr. Lorenz (Sydney Greenstreet), Leland slowly
uncovers a Japanese plot to attack the Canal Zone (presumably also on
December 7) and sets himself to preventing it.
This was a good performance by Bogart, along with good performances from Astor and Greenstreet. (For those not entirely familiar with Canadian geography, by the way, the pun is that Alberta claims to be from Medicine Hat, which is a small city in Alberta - almost TOO cute!) There's a fair amount of tension throughout as we struggle along with Leland to figure out exactly what's going on, and a nice climax as Leland foils the Japanese plan (Bogey had to win!)
A couple of things I thought were worth noting, though. First of all, what's with the title? All the action in the movie takes place either on the Japanese freighter as it travels south down the ATLANTIC coast of North America or in the Panama Canal Zone (with some minor scenes in Halifax, where Leland is rejected by the Canadian Army, and in New York City, where he snoops for information.) The only Pacific connection to the movie is that the freighter was Japanese. And remember, of course, that this was made in 1942 (after Pearl Harbour.) The depiction of the Japanese isn't especially flattering (although I thought it was more a play on stereotypes than openly antagonistic), and the closing shot of the film is the wartime requisite showing off of American military strength.
All in all, though, I enjoyed this movie immensely, and would highly recommend it.
This serves as a nice companion piece to "The Maltese Falcon", but
DON'T compare it the masterpiece or you won't enjoy it. Also, keep in
mind, this was during the beginning of WWII (obviously), so expect your
typical "all Japanese are evil" racial stereotypes. It is upsetting to
see that films like these just heightened the US's paranoia, driving us
to send everyone of Japanese descent to internment camps.
You're going to really enjoy this film if you've seen modern Pulp adventures like the Indiana Jones trilogy or Sky Captain (though don't expect to see ANY mystical/sci-fi elements involved). This has it all: a hard-boiled hero, exotic locales, constant plot twists and turns, colorful villains, and a mysterious woman.
Bogart, as (almost) always plays the same character he always plays. but boy, does he fit in SO well into this film. Mary Astor, while not the pretty face that she was built up to be here and in "The Maltese Falcon", gives another great performance, and unlike Bogart, she was always able to give characters in a similar vein (in this case, the mysterious woman), each their own personalities. Her Alberta Marlow is not at all like "schoolgirl" Brigid O'Shaughnessey, but (at least openly) tougher, a perfect match with Bogart during their exchanges of dialogue, while remaining to be extremely ambiguous, never making sure whether or not she's an ally or a femme fatale. When all is revealed, looking back on it things made perfect sense with her character's attitude.
Sydney Greenstreet adds another great villain to his own rogues gallery. Here he's a man obsessed with Japanese culture and way of life, so much that he has become apart of and accepted by "the enemy". Victor Sen Young, who played a great shark grinned scumbag in "The Letter", does good here, looking very happy that he at least was able to speak coherently for once in a motion picture.
Huston's direction is really worth looking at, especially visually stunning during a sequence at a movie theater. Without his obvious presence and Bogart, this film would have just been another propaganda story of espionage. Sadly, when he had to leave the film for war duty, the final scenes were shot by otherwise competent (but nothing special) director Vincent Sherman. The final 15 minutes seem extremely out of place with the rest of the film, and its a shame Huston wasn't around a little bit longer to round up what could have been a quintessential piece of a feature 40's pulp movie.
Worth seeing, its a film that falls short of greatness, but man is it entertaining.
"Across the Pacific" is a fairly well done spy movie that takes place in
last days before America's entry into World War II.
Rick Leland (Humphrey Bogart) is cashiered from the U.S. Army for stealing
funds. The events that follow involve a love interest (Mary Astor) and an
enemy agent (Sydney Greenstreet) and a trip on a passenger ship from New
York to the Panama Canal. Humphrey Bogart as an American spy is
in a role that might have been played by Sean Connery 20 years later.
The subplot of a Japanese plot to torpedo the Panama Canal and put it out of action was a case of truth being stranger than fiction with the recent revelation of Japanese submarines which carried planes designed to knock the canal out, but which were never used. "Across the Pacific" has humor, action and romance and is one of Bogart's lesser known but very good movies.
Not one of Bogart's best films, but still pretty darn entertaining. I
really love this movie and all its predictable twists and turns, its cheezey
jingoism and its racial and gender stereotyping. Even though there are
parts of this film that will probably be offensive to some of the more
delicate modern viewers, it is still a rousing tale of espionage, murder,
treason and heroism.
I have watched ATP several times, and have enjoyed it thoroughly each time, looking past its warts and bumps to the heart of a fun pulp story acted out by some of my favorite actors (Bogey, Astor and Greenstreet). The essential plot, if I remember right, is that evil Japanese baddies want to blow up the Panama canal (with Greenstreet's help of course) and Bogey has to stop them. He meets a mysterious woman on a boat while supposedly going to work for Chiang Kai Scheck in China (strange little point to make) and has all kinds of strange encounters and adventures along the way, falling in love, saving the day, and fighting those evil Japs...
By the way, the film actually does make a certain responsible choice to demonstrate that not all Japanese people are bad guys. It is sort of a week effort, but pretty surprising considering the mood in America when this film was being made.
Good WW2 spy movie with the three leads and director from The Maltese
Falcon. The plot is about Humphrey Bogart getting tangled up with
baddie Sydney Greenstreet and love interest Mary Astor. Greenstreet's a
Japanese sympathizer and is trying to recruit Bogie. Good luck with
that, Gutman. Bogart is excellent playing a character he was totally at
home playing: wisecracking tough guy ladies' man. Greenstreet is
villainous as ever and perfect at it. Just as in Maltese Falcon, Mary
Astor is playing a stunning beauty that makes heads turn. Just like in
Maltese Falcon, she doesn't match the character description. Perhaps
Huston had a bit of a crush. Otherwise I don't get her being cast in
these types of parts at a time when the likes of Ingrid Bergman and
Lana Turner were around. Still, despite that element of the casting
being off, Astor does fine.
This movie has an interesting backstory. It was originally to be about a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but when that actually happened in real life, they changed it to Panama. They never changed the title, though, despite the movie taking place nowhere near the Pacific. Then John Huston got called to serve before filming was complete so Vincent Sherman had to step in. Oddly, it seems Huston was the only one who knew how the movie was supposed to end so Sherman had to make up the final fifteen minutes or so of the movie!
Richard Macaulay had to do some fast rewrites on this John Huston-directed picture, based upon a magazine serial by Robert Carson. When dishonorably discharged Army Officer Humphrey Bogart is revealed to be a spy staking out a powerful Japanese sympathizer aboard a vessel to the Orient, the portly commander was originally supposed to be supervising the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When that occurred in real-life while the picture was in production, Macaulay hurriedly switched the locale to the Panama Canal (making the film's title irrelevant). However, even if the story structure is patchy--and Mary Astor's role as a plantation owner's daughter ultimately doesn't make much sense--"Across the Pacific" has a dryly joshing quality about it, and the end results are pleasant if unremarkable. Bogart (playing 'Rick', sometimes 'Ricky') is in jovial spirits throughout, especially when comparing gun sizes with Sydney Greenstreet (never better) or fingering Astor's back after she's acquired a sunburn; his blithe, easy performance makes the film enjoyable. Astor (ostensibly the love-interest) doesn't pour on the charm in her scenes with Bogie; she plays it rather big-sisterly with him, a seen-it-all kind of gal, and this works extremely well. The finale is a sign of the times--American fighter planes fill the skies--but even this corny touch works a little magic, despite the film's misshapen quality and sluggish beginning. **1/2 from ****
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is Humphrey Bogart the way his fans like him best--being pure Bogart
and relishing his role the way he did Sam Spade in THE MALTESE FALCON. He
has some crackling good dialogue to share with Mary Astor and Sydney
Greenstreet and director John Huston keeps things moving at a lively pace
with the usual amount of twists and turns.
Only problem is this is one of those espionage tales full of hidden identities--a bit disconcerting considering how complicated the plot is. But after awhile that doesn't matter. What counts here is the great chemistry between Bogart and Astor, Bogart and Greenstreet, Bogart and Sen Young. In short, it's Bogey doing what he does best--and Greenstreet as well--with Bogart as the tough guy whose mission is to destroy a scheme by spies to blow up the Panama Canal. All of the shipboard scenes are great fun and played for comedy as well as drama. It has plenty of suspense along the way. Sen Young is especially good in a colorful supporting role. It's slam bang entertainment all the way.
Of course, at the end, Bogey single-handedly destroys the enemy and is free to pursue the mysterious Mary Astor. At times it seems as though these are characters left over from THE MALTESE FALCON with Astor again playing a woman who just might be treacherous. The only ingredient missing among the supporting cast is Peter Lorre.
For Bogart fans, this is a must see. John Huston had to leave toward the end of the shooting to go into war service. Filming was completed by Victor Sherman who took no credit for his work.
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