Rick Leland makes no secret of the fact he has no loyalty to his home country after he is court-marshaled out of the army and boards a Japanese ship for the Orient in late 1941. But has Leland really been booted out, or is there some other motive for his getting close to fellow passenger Doctor Lorenz? Any motive for getting close to attractive traveller Alberta Marlow would however seem pretty obvious.
Humphrey Bogart ... Rick Leland
Mary Astor ... Alberta Marlow
Sydney Greenstreet ... Dr. Lorenz
Charles Halton ... A. V. Smith
Victor Sen Yung ... Joe Totsuiko (as Sen Young)
Roland Got ... Sugi
Lee Tung Foo ... Sam Wing On
Frank Wilcox ... Captain Morrison
Paul Stanton ... Colonel Hart
Lester Matthews ... Canadian Major
John Hamilton ... Court-Martial President
Tom Stevenson ... Unidentified Man
Roland Drew ... Captain Harkness
Monte Blue ... Dan Morton
Director: John Huston / Vincent Sherman (final scenes) (uncredited)
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.
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.
Across the Pacific is minor league stuff in the careers of both John Huston and Humphrey Bogart. It's clearly made as a wartime propaganda film. It certainly doesn't compare to The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Key Largo, or The African Queen. It doesn't even have the redeeming feature of campiness that Beat the Devil has. The film is a product of the time.
That being said, it's certainly entertaining enough. On an action level it has more of it than The Maltese Falcon from which four cast members were retained. The four repeaters are Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and John Hamilton.
Bogart's not the existential private eye here. He's a cashiered army officer whose trial was really a fake. He's working undercover to find expose some Japanese American fifth columnists. His investigation takes him on a Japanese freighter that does carry passengers on the side. Two of those passengers are an Orientalist professor who teaches at the University of Manila, Sidney Greenstreet and a woman who claims to be from Medicine Hat, Mary Astor. Bogey spends the entire film trying to figure out not only what the dastardly scheme is, but just how Astor fits into it, because he's fallen for her.
World War II was the greatest time for employment for oriental players except Japanese ones. A goodly group is in this film, Kam Tong, Philip Ahn, Keye Luke and most of all Victor Sen Yung.
Until he played Hop Sing, Ben Cartwright's Chinese cook in Bonanza, Sen Yung was best known for being Charlie Chan's son under a few different Chans. But his role as Joe Tatsuito in this film was pretty good work also.
Sen Yung is a hip, jive talking Nisei who is supposed to be a deadly killer. Since he's already identified as such before we actually meet him, there is an aura of menace about Sen Yung even when he's at his friendliest.
Sidney Greenstreet as a scholar has become so immersed in Japanese culture and tradition that it has taken him right over the line into treason. Greenstreet is a talker like Casper Guttman in The Maltese Falcon, but in the end he can't walk the walk.
What was also happening in 1942 was that we were interning Japanese civilians that year. I don't think Victor Sen Yung being Chinese himself and knowing what the Japanese were doing in the home of his ancestors had any qualms about portraying a man on screen that seemed to be the living justification for such a policy. I've never heard of Across the Pacific being discussed specifically as a propaganda piece for that policy. Nor do I ever remember John Huston ever being questioned about it. Not that he had anything to do with the decision for internment, but it would have been nice to hear his feelings on the subject vis a vis Across the Pacific.
Huston didn't even stick around for the finish of Across the Pacific, it was completed under different hands. He went off to the service where he did some really fine documentaries that have stood the test of time.
# Director John Huston went off to join the war effort before the film was finished, and Vincent Sherman directed the final scenes.
# This movie was originally about a Japanese plot to blow up Pearl Harbor, but while they were making it, the Japanese actually did blow up Pearl Harbor, so they changed it to the Panama Canal.
# The last-minute screenplay change from Pearl Harbor to the Panama Canal was not implausible. Until the mid 1930s US military exercises concentrated on defending the Panama Canal from air, amphibious & small craft attack and were extensively covered by the press.