Across the Pacific
Eric Renderking Fisk | February 22nd, 2002
In a world gone crazy with terrorist threats, elevated the alert status and cover stories speculation who knew about what and when it's good to just be able to step back and reflect a time when the threat was just as real. But from the time this flick was filmed, the terror came from a fascist state from Europe and an Imperial regime in the pacific, not some obscure band of international criminals armed with a perverse idea of religion. Who would have thought back then that a bunch of Islamic fundamentalists would be more terrifying than book burning, goose stepping morons?
At least two of Bogart's movie fit in this Category of an American man fighting against a clandestine organization. "All through the Night" and the subject of this review: "Across the Pacific" is both two excellent movies he made under his contract with Warner Brothers during that era. Across The Pacific 1"Across the Pacific" isn't as tongue and cheek as "All Through The Night", but reflects much of the adventure that may have inspired another franchise many of us are interested in. Much as it is true today, the themes of these movies were relevant during the world war two era, American’s living back then were just as concerned about Fifth Columnists and outright spies taking advantage of America's open society to wreck havoc.
In one of the first spy motion pictures of its time, Bogart plays Richard Leland, supposedly a disgraced Army officer who books passage on a Japanese boat docked in Canada heading towards The Panama Canal then through to Hawaii, then finally to the Philippines. Like Leland, NOBODY except the crew of the boat is what they seem to be. Bogart’s character isn’t the only double agent in this film. As the story unfolds and as you learn about the other people Leland shares this adventure with, there are opportunists and twisted foreign patriots fighting for a twisted cause. Even Mary Astor (the female lead, with Sidney Greenstreet, is another carry over from another Bogart classic.) lies about her true identity and intentions...
Once the Japanese boat reached the Panama Canal and is denied access, the passengers disembark as the pieces of the plot fall into place. Through a pair of contacts, Leland gets a few more pieces of the puzzle and is given the go-ahead to continue with the charade of being a traitor. It’s only through luck and skill that after Leland uncovers the plot by the Japs to destroy the Panama Canal. It’s a good watch, regardless if slightly hokey and excessively patriotic.
As the plot unravels, even with its light heartiness, there are times when the viewer stops and thinks, “This could be today, this could be headlines tomorrow.” This motion picture illustrates that even thought the dancers may have changed, the steps are still the same… as much as you plan and try and prevent a terrorist attack, there are still ways around almost all security measures.
For someone like myself, “Across the Pacific “ is for those of us you want more from movies such as Casablanca and The Maltase Falcon. There are nights that I crave Bogart films, I’m glad that I took a chance on this, one of his lesser films. For Indiana Jones fans, like myself and the founder of this site, any Humphrey Bogart film is a great way to spend an evening while waiting for Indy IV. Many times, Harrison Ford has been called the Humphrey Bogart of our generation… “Across the Pacific” reminds us that Bogart was the Harrison Ford of his era.
Updated - Autumn 2010
It’s hard to imagine that I’ve reached the point in my life when I would be nostalgic for period of my life between 1998 and 2002. Who knew that I would have lived past 1990 with all of my life threatening stunts and transient lifestyle, much less live to see the threshold of the 21st century?
Across The Pacific 4One of the reasons why I’m sentimental about those years is because of my wife and those years when we were first together as a couple. Couldn’t stop thinking about her and couldn’t wait to get out of work and just be with her, whether we’re driving home together or watching movies with take-out food. I wrote a rant a while ago about my nostalgia for VHS and home theater and how I actually miss the video cassette experience. “Across The Pacific” is one of those examples. One of the films that remind me of that time in my life isn’t one of the contemporary releases from that time, but it’s classics like this that I rediscovered back then.
There’s nothing particular noteworthy about this motion picture, for me, it just represents a place and time in my life when I was becoming more involved in the on-line retrocentric community and when my relationship with the woman I would love for the rest of my life was new. It is important in that it demonstrates people’s attitudes and fears that were prevalent during the start of World War II and how movie studios would do anything to promote a pro-American message into any production. It’s a far cry from what’s going on today.
If this is an essential Flick To Hold You Over, it’s because it’s classic Bogart as the essential hero willing to do anything – include posing as a traitor while by ruining your good name – to defeat the enemy. It's a great way to spend an hour or so on an autumn or winter night with the person you love.