Wartime Bogart Part I: Across the Pacific

If you thought the title Across the Pacific was a misnomer for a film about a group of characters sailing the Atlantic (and never reaching the Pacific) then you might find the rest of the story interesting.

Screenwriters Richard Macaulay and Robert Carson initially had Bogart’s protagonist thwarting a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. When Pearl Harbour broke out before production, the scene was hastily changed to the more exotic and implausible Panama Canal. Since Bogart could not stop a Japanese attack after a Japanese attack actually happened (life imitates art before art is finished?) he was now to stop Hirohito’s agents from gathering intelligence on American defences. Perhaps that is what all propaganda films do. Pearl Harbour would be too realistic, and, considering the outcome of that engagement, counterproductive. Remote Panama, however, was free for use as a narrative end point.

"Psst, Hawaii was hit. Bring out the Central America backdrop."

With Sydney Greenstreet and Mary Astor supporting Bogart in a John Huston production, Across the Pacific feels like a modest Maltese Falcon reunion. Greenstreet plays a variation of his Kasper Gutman villain. He is educated, charming, fat, and deadly. Astor is mediocre as the unremarkable love interest. In fact, the whole film feels unambitious, but even the worst Huston picture is worth seeing. I’d take Across the Pacific over Transformers III any day.

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2 Comments

Filed under Bogart, John Huston, Old Ones, Wartime Bogart

2 responses to “Wartime Bogart Part I: Across the Pacific

  1. Pingback: Wartime Bogart Part II: All Through the Night « Post Projection

  2. Pingback: Wartime Bogart Part III: Passage to Marseille « Post Projection

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