Across the Pacific

Available to stream from Amazon Prime, this is a 1942 spy mystery directed by John Huston, and was Warner Bros.’ attempt to capitalize on the success of The Maltese Falcon by reteaming its cast and crew in this film.  Bogart, Astor and Greenstreet (no Peter Lorre, unfortunately) turn in credible performances; however, the film is not quite the “edge of your seat” suspense thriller as MF.  Set on the eve of the US entry into WWII, Bogart plays an American army officer (Rick Leland) dishonorably discharged from service to provide a “cover” for him to investigate prewar espionage activities.  While aboard a Japanese ship headed to the Panama Canal, Bogart meets Greenstreet (Dr. Lorenz) who is pro-Japanese and, Mary Astor (Alberta Marlow) a fashion designer who appears to be keeping a secret.  After much chasing around, the three gather at a Panama Plantation where Alberta’s father is held captive by the Japanese to ensure her cooperation in a plot to destroy the Panama Canal. (In an earlier version of the script, the target was Pearl Harbor, however, when fiction became reality, film production was shut down for three months and the script was rewritten to make the focus the Canal).  Bogart foils the plot, wins the girl (Alberta) and turns Dr. Lorenz (Greenstreet) over to US military intelligence in a very tight and short final scene.  Because the story is a bit convoluted and the chemistry between the principal actors is not quite up to the level of the Falcon, we give this film a Good for an Afternoon rating. Also, Huston did not finish directing the film; after the Pearl Harbor attack, he left for Washington to work for the government.  A new director, Vincent Sherman was assigned by Warner Bros. to handle re-scripting and finish its production.

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