johnlink ranks ACROSS THE PACIFIC (1942)

So a Bogart/Huston movie I’d never seen, heck never even heard of, came across Turner Classics this past week. Was happy to watch this film which released between two of his great classics, THE MALTESE FALCON and CASABLANCA.

I watched ACROSS THE PACIFIC (1942) on 6.25.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

This is an interesting little movie. I say little because it is by no means of the scale of a CASABLANCA, or even THE MALTESE FALCON. This is a small-location type film, which has some parallels to CASABLANCA, and which is an interesting story in its own right.

Like in CASABLANCA, Bogart plays a former (or is it current…) military man named Rick. Like CASABLANCA there is a seemingly upstanding location with an employee named Sam, and which has more to do with politics than it would first seem.

ACROSS THE PACIFIC was originally written to be about Pearl Harbor, as a double agent  works to stop its attack. When an actual attack happened, the script had to be altered and the location changed to Panama, in order for the hero to be successful. The film briefly shows the date on a newspaper, so the attack seems to be on the same day as Pearl Harbor. The film, thus, tells the tale of a man who stops an unknown attack on Panama on the day Pearl Harbor was also attacked. Strangely, despite the title, the characters never make it to the Pacific, let alone across it.

This is Bogart (the hero), Mary Astor (the potentially deceptive heroine), and Sydney Greenstreet (the villain) being directed by John Huston. With that quartet, it would certainly be entertaining if not great. Not knowing what I was getting into, the film seems to start as sort of anti-war pre-WWII propaganda (it is not, the first ten minutes seem that way). It then converts to a romantic comedy for thirty minutes. Next a spy film for twenty, and finally an action flick for the conclusion. These transitions would flop if handled by lesser actors.

Interestingly, John Huston was called away at the ending of the film by the US Government to make pro-America documentaries (we all know the US does not engage in propaganda, so I won’t use that word).  The final scenes were directed by Vincent Sherman. Visually, the film does change for the final scenes, but this is more due to the nature of the scenes than the apparent change of director.

The writing is typical witty 40s Bogart fare. Lots of great one liners (“Ah, there’s a Canadian for you! Let them take their clothes off, and they’re happy.”), and plenty of villainous meat for Greenstreet to chew. I enjoyed the heck out of the dialogue, even if the plot was little more than excuse to get the actors together.

So I’d put this one a step below the true classics, but it certainly lands squarely on the radar. I’d watch it again, and am glad to have stumbled upon it.


FILM: 5; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 8; WRITING: 7 (What is this?)



~ by johnlink00 on June 28, 2010.

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