Across the Pacific (1942): John Huston’s War Thriller, Starring Bogart and Mary Astor

The winning team of The Maltese Falcon is reunited for Across the Pacific, which also was directed by John Huston.

This wartime thriller reunites three of the “Maltese Falcon” leads: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet.

Grade: B (**** 1/2* out of *****)

Across the Pacific
AcrossthePacific.jpg

The “Maltese Falcon” John Huston directs this reunion, and once again, the combination of stars and director is a winning one.  Like “Maltese Falcon,” the film has the same irresistible mixture of darkness, double-cross and quirky humor.

Produced by Jerry Wald and Jack Sapper, the film is penned by Richard Macaulay, based on Robert Carson’s serial, “Aloha Means Goodbye,” which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post.

Bogart plays counterspy Rick Leland, a man introduced as a former Army man, who’s been court-martialed for selling military secrets.  He boards a Japanese ship bound for the Pacific, where he meets and trades romantic barbs with Alberta (Astor).

Alberta Marlow (Astor) and Rick Leland (Bogart) aboard the Genoa Maru.

Predictably, Rick matches wits with sly Lorenz (Greenstreet), a mysterious sociologist returning to his position in Manila.

Of course, Rick’s behavior is just a cover for his true mission as an undercover agent; he has been placed on board to establish contact with Japanese agents.

As in “The Maltese Falcon,” Rick is humiliated, beaten, and tortured, but in the end, he swaps bullets with saboteurs of the Panama Canal.

Critics of later generations saw Across the Pacific as a deconstructive film, a satire of the spy thriller genre.

Who Really Directed?

Director John Huston was called up by the Army Service Forces Signal Corps during the shoot. In a later interview he claimed that he deliberately left Leland tied up and held at gunpoint in a cliff-hanger set up for his replacement to solve. Vincent Sherman took over on April 22, 1942, and finished directing the film (minus the script that Huston had taken with him, explaining “Bogie will know how to get out”). Afterwards, Huston declared that Sherman’s solution to the problem “lacked credibility.“ The studio’s solution to the problem was to discard Huston’s footage of the impossible dilemma and write a new scenario.

Cast

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Leland
Mary Astor as Alberta Marlow
Sydney Greenstreet as Dr. Lorenz
Kam Tong as T. Oki, Lorenz’s Servant
Charles Halton as A.V. Smith
Victor Sen Yung as Joe Totsuiko
Roland Got as Sugi
Lee Tung Foo as Hotel Owner Sam Wing On, Rick’s friend
Frank Wilcox as Captain Morrison
Paul Stanton as Colonel Hart
Lester Matthews as Canadian Major
John Hamilton as Court-Martial President
Roland Drew as Captain Harkness
Monte Blue as Dan Morton
Chester Gan as Captain Higoto
Richard Loo as First Officer Miyuma
Keye Luke as Steamship Office Clerk
Rudy Robles as A Filipino Assassin
Spencer Chan as Chief Engineer Mitsuko
Frank Mayo as Trial Judge Advocate

Credits:

Directed by John Huston and Vincent Sherman
Produced by Jack Saper, Jerry Wald
Screenplay by Richard Macaulay, based on “Aloha Means Good-bye” (1941 The Saturday Evening Post story) by Robert Carson
Music by Adolph Deutsch
Cinematography Arthur Edeson
Edited by Frank Magee

Production and distribution: Warner Bros.

Release date: September 4, 1942

Running time: 97 minutes
Budget $576,000
Box office $1.3 million (US rentals) $2,375,000 worldwide