Across the Pacific

Across the Pacific is a 1942 American spy film set on the eve of the entry of the United States into World War II. The film was directed first by John Huston, then by Vincent Sherman after Huston joined the United States Army Signal Corps. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet. Despite the title, the action never progresses across the Pacific, concluding in Panama. The original script portrayed an attempt to avert a Japanese plan to invade Pearl Harbor. When the real-life attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, production was shut down for three months, resuming on March 2, 1942, with a revised script changing the target to Panama.[4][5]

Across the Pacific
Directed byJohn Huston
Vincent Sherman
Produced byJack Saper
Jerry Wald
Screenplay byRichard Macaulay
Based on"Aloha Means Good-bye"
(1941 The Saturday Evening Post story)
by Robert Carson
StarringHumphrey Bogart
Mary Astor
Sydney Greenstreet
Music byAdolph Deutsch
CinematographyArthur Edeson
Edited byFrank Magee
Warner Bros.
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • September 4, 1942 (1942-09-04)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.3 million (US rentals)[2][3]
$2,375,000 worldwide[1]

The screenplay by Richard Macauley was an adaptation of a Saturday Evening Post serial by Robert Carson, “Aloha Means Goodbye”, which was published June 28-July 26, 1941.[6][7]

Warner Bros. used the same title for a 1926 silent adventure film starring Monte Blue, who has a small role in this picture. However, the plots of the two films bear no resemblance to each other.


On November 17, 1941, on Governor's Island in New York City, Captain Rick Leland (Humphrey Bogart) is court-martialed and discharged from the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps after he is caught stealing. He tries to join the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry but is coldly rebuffed. Ostensibly on his way to China to fight for Chiang Kai-shek, Leland boards a Japanese ship, the Genoa Maru, sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Yokohama via the Panama Canal and Hawaii.

On board, he meets Canadian Alberta Marlow (Mary Astor) who claims to be from Medicine Hat, and a light-hearted romance begins immediately. The other passengers are Dr. Lorenz (Sydney Greenstreet) and his servant, T. Oki. Lorenz, a professor of sociology, admires the Japanese and therefore is very unpopular in the Philippines, where he resides. Leland, in turn, makes it clear that he will fight for anyone willing to pay him enough.

During a stop in New York City, Leland is revealed as a secret agent when he reports to Colonel Hart (Paul Stanton), an undercover Army Intelligence officer. Lorenz is a known enemy spy, but Hart and Leland are uncertain about Marlow. Hart also warns him to look out for a Japanese criminal named Totsuiko. Returning to the ship, Leland surprises a Filipino assassin (Rudy Robles) about to shoot Lorenz. Leland gains Lorenz's confidence by remaining indifferent when Lorenz has the man killed. Joe Totsuiko (Victor Sen Yung) embarks as a passenger, in the guise of a wise-cracking young Nisei, and a different man returns as T. Oki (Kam Tong). Lorenz pays Leland in advance for information concerning the military installations guarding the Panama Canal.

In Panama, the captain announces that Japanese ships must detour around Cape Horn. Leland, Marlow, and Lorenz wait for another vessel at Sam's (Lee Tung Foo) hotel. Crates addressed to Dan Morton, Bountiful Plantation, are unloaded. Lorenz demands that Leland procure up-to-date schedules for the air patrol. On December 6, 1941, Leland meets with his local contact, A. V. Smith (Charles Halton) and convinces him to provide real timetables: Lorenz would recognize fakes. Smith adds that Dan Morton is a rich dipsomaniac and that Marlow is a buyer for Rogers Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Leland hands over the schedules and is brutally beaten. He revives several hours later and immediately calls Smith, warning him to change the patrol schedule. Smith is killed after Leland hangs up. Lorenz and Marlow are gone. Sam sends Leland to a cinema, where a man (Philip Ahn), whispers “Go Bountiful Plantation..” and is killed. At the plantation, Leland sees a torpedo bomber being prepared. He is captured and brought to Lorenz. Also there are Totsuiko, Marlow, plantation owner Dan Morton (Monte Blue), and the second T. Oki, who is an Imperial Japanese prince and pilot. Morton, a shadow of a man whose weakness was exploited by the saboteurs, is Marlow's father. Her only stake in the affair is his welfare.

Lorenz reveals that Smith is dead: The prince will destroy the locks, without interference. They leave Totsuiko on guard. Leland makes a move; Marlow cries out; her father staggers to his feet; Totsuiko shoots him; Leland overpowers Totsuiko. Outside, Leland gets hold of a guard's machine gun, shoots down the plane and dispatches Lorenz's henchmen. In the house, a defeated Lorenz attempts to commit seppuku, but his nerve fails him. He begs Leland to kill him. Leland refuses: Lorenz “has a date with Army Intelligence." Leland and Marlow clasp hands and look up at a sky filling with American planes.


Alberta Marlow (Mary Astor) and Rick Leland (Humphrey Bogart) aboard the Genoa Maru.


On Dec. 20, 1941, The New York Times reported the sale of Carson's story for $12,500.[8]

After the hiatus caused by the attack on Pearl Harbor, production resumed on March 2, 1942, and filming continued through May 2, 1942 (including retakes). The picture opened in New York City on September 4, 1942.[9]

Colonel J. G. Taylor was technical advisor for the court-martial scene that opens the picture.[5]

TCM's Bret Wood reports that John Huston created the effect of being on the ocean by having the set of the ship's deck built on a platform supported by hydraulic lifts to keep everything moving. In some of the interior shots, “The camera subtly, almost imperceptibly, edges toward and away from the actors, providing a vaguely disorienting effect that well serves the film's ever-shifting moral ground.”[10]


Adolph Deutsch turned the Engineers Hymn[11] (as played to the tune of “The Son of a Gambolier”) into an evocative theme for the character of Richard Leland. We also hear a few poignant measures of West Point's “Alma Mater ”[12][13] after the court-martial, when Leland looks at his class ring and puts it back on his finger.

Changing DirectorsEdit

Director John Huston was called up by the Army Service Forces Signal Corps during filming. In a later interview he claimed that he deliberately left Leland tied up and held at gunpoint in a cliff-hanger set up for his replacement to solve.[5] Vincent Sherman took over on April 22, 1942,[5] and finished directing the film (minus the script that Huston had taken with him, explaining "Bogie will know how to get out"). Afterwards, Huston declared that Sherman's solution to the problem "lacked credibility“.[14] The studio's solution to the problem was to discard Huston's footage of the impossible dilemma and write a new scenario.[10]

Effect of InternmentEdit reports that Mary Astor later recalled that the constantly expanding internment of Japanese Americans ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 3, 1942, deprived Japanese actors of their jobs on the film. The file on Across the Pacific in the USC Cinema-Television Library shows that ethnically Chinese actors were cast as the Japanese characters from the beginning. Aside from Technical Advisor Dan Fujiwara and “a few bit players”, there were no ethnically Japanese participants in Across the Pacific.[5]


Variety commented, “Although picture does not quite hit the edge-of-seat tension engendered by Maltese Falcon, it’s a breezy and fast-paced melodrama. Huston directs deftly from thrill-packed script by Macauley.”[6]

On Sept. 5, 1942, Bosley Crowther of The New York Times had high praise for “young Mr. Huston... he has made a spy picture this time which tingles with fearful uncertainties and glints with the sheen of blue steel... (taking) his audience right into the picture by artful camera work dependent on close-ups... He never lets you know for certain just which way a character is going to jump...With these deceptive characters, with excellent dialogue and realistic mise en scéne, Mr. Huston has given the Warners a delightfully fear-jerking picture. It's like having a knife at your ribs for an hour and a half.”[15]

Radio adaptationEdit

Across the Pacific was adapted as a radio play on The Screen Guild Theater's January 25, 1943, broadcast with Bogart, Astor, and Greenstreet reprising their film roles.

Real unitEdit

The opening scene shows 198th Coast Artillery Command at Governors Island, New York City. In fact the 198th Coast Artillery Regiment was stationed at Wilmington, Delaware.[16]

Box officeEdit

According to Warner Bros records, the film earned $1,381,000 domestically and $994,000 in overseas markets.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 23 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. ^ "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  3. ^ Thomas Schatz, Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s Uni of California Press, 1999 p 218
  4. ^ Astor, Mary, A Life on Film, Dell Publishing 1967, New York, p. 157
  5. ^ a b c d e "Across the Pacific (1942) - Notes -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  6. ^ a b "Across the Pacific". Variety. 1942-01-01. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  7. ^ "Across the Pacific (1942) - Screenplay Info -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  8. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD; ' Aloha Means Goodbye' Sold to Warners for $12,500 -- Mary Astor in Picture WOLF MAN' OPENS TODAY Lon Chaney Jr. in Melodrama at Rialto -- 'No Hands on the Clock' Arrives at Globe". The New York Times. 1941-12-20. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  9. ^ "Across the Pacific (1942) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  10. ^ a b "Across the Pacific (1942) - Articles -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  11. ^ Also known as “We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers”
  12. ^ "Alma Mater. The Cadet Glee Club". Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  13. ^ "West Point Association of Graduates". Retrieved 2020-04-02.
  14. ^ Huston, John - "An Open Book", Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1980, New York, p88
  15. ^ Crowther, Bosley (1942-09-05). "THE SCREEN; 'Across the Pacific,' Featuring Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet in a Tingling Thriller, Arrives at Strand". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  16. ^ 198th Signal Battalion Lineage

External linksEdit