This post is part of the CMBA’s Fabulous Films of the 1940s Blogathon, running from February 17th through February 22nd, 2013. Enjoy!
After The Maltese Falcon became a hit in 1941, Warner Bros. wasted no time in following up with Across the Pacific (AtP) in 1942, reuniting its powerhouse stars Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, composer Adolph Deutsch, and of course, director John Huston, this time working from a script by Richard Macaulay (They Drive By Night; The Roaring Twenties; Born to Kill), based on the serial Aloha Means Goodbye. (Macauley was later known for testifying as a “friendly witness” before HUAC during the McCarthy era, but that’s a story for another time.)
AtP has plenty of suspense, romance, and flag-waving, what with the U.S. poised to enter World War 2 any minute. The result was an entertaining adventure with that cheeky Huston feel, at once suspenseful and playful, while never forgetting that war is on the horizon and you can never be sure who to trust. Only Peter Lorre was missing among the AtP cast—but he turned up just long enough to horse around, according to TCM’s Bret Wood: “Without informing his cast, Huston had Lorre enter the background as a waiter, clumsily disrupting the scene until announcing his presence with a wet kiss on the back of Astor’s neck.” Oh, those impish Warner scamps!
|Love, exciting and new! Come aboard, we're expecting you!|
|Even Canada, our friendly neighbor to the North,|
won't let Rick fight!
|Romance on the high seas for Rick and Alberta...|
|...til mal-de-mere strikes! Can Alberta get a refund?|
|A pleasure cruise on the fab Genoa Maru!|
Hope they got entertainment & all-you-can-eat buffets!
Alberta: “I can do without money.”
Rick: “Stick with me and you’ll get plenty of practice.”
Rick notices Alberta’s comparatively skimpy cruise garb:
Rick: “I never saw anybody like you. You never have any clothes on.”
Alberta: “Well if anyone heard you complaining about it, they would put you in a psychopathic ward.” (Note: Alberta’s so-called skimpy sea togs just looked like nice bathrobes and skirts to me, but this was 1942, so Astor’s fashions may well have seemed racy at the time!)
According to the TCM Web site, John Huston and many other Hollywood actors and filmmakers accepted commissions to become a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Huston was called into service just before AtP wrapped. Vincent Sherman (Mr. Skeffington; The Young Philadelphians; and one of my favorites, All Through the Night) took over.
|Um, this guy is just here to put|
a refreshing mint on Rick's pillow, right?
Huston and his cast work together as beautifully as they did in their previous hit. Astor has always been deft at drama (The Great Lie, for which she won her 1942 Best Supporting Actress Oscar), but she’s also always had a flair for comedy, too (The Palm Beach Story being a delightful example). Astor and Bogart are an engaging onscreen couple, whether they’re playful or serious. In one running gag (literally), Astor’s Alberta Marlow makes a prim, hilarious victim of seasickness: “Even if I live, I’ll never be the same again.” And don’t get her started on the ship’s bread pudding! The action goes from sea to land, from New York City (where Alberta insists on Rick buying a new suit. Guess she never heard that line from The Spanish Prisoner: “Beware of all enterprises which require new clothes.”), and finally, from Cristobal to Panama where the action gets red hot. No wonder Crowther had more to say about AtP: “It’s like having a knife to your ribs for an hour and a half.” That’s in a good way, I assure you!
|Careful who you drink with, Rick! Remember when you drank with that Gutman character who slipped you a Mickey in San Francisco?|
|Don't mind me, Mr. Leland, I'm just looking for my cufflinks!|
Anyone got a compact? My lips are delightfully schmeared after all this gunplay!
|"Mine's bigger than yours." Actual dialogue from the movie!|
|Alberta tells Rick that passenger T. Oki is not okey-dokey! So much for all Japanese looking alike!|
|"Hey, hon, if we have a great time on this cruise, let's make a date at the Empire State Building a year from now!"|
|A great cast is worth repeating! Sydney Greenstreet, Humphrey Bogart, Victor Sen Yung, Mary Astor|