Running Time: Across the Pacific

First full movie I've watched while running.  Obviously I'm running on the treadmill, because who wants to carry a 55" screen with them on a job outside?  In the past I've always listened to music while running and if I'm on the treadmill I'll try to find something on TV that can distract me visually, but I realized I was putting too much time into looking for the right kind of movie for visual only, and since I'm most often running in the morning there are no hockey or football games on.

I'm a very devoted Bogart fan and I hadn't yet watched cross The Pacific o I took in the full hour and forty minutes in three running sessions, two 30 minute runs and a forty.  Since I do longer runs at 6 mph, you can do the math and figure out that it's a 10 mile movie.

Let's start with the irony, because I love irony: though the vast majority of the film takes place on a boat, they never actually go across the Pacific.  The boat sets sail from Halifax, travels down the Atlantic coast, and the story ends just shy of the Panama Canal.  Yeah.  No Pacific at all.

But wait!  Perhaps "across the Pacific" refers to the imminent threat of Japanese invasion?  The story takes place shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor (Bogart film, remember?  It has to be set somewhere around WWII) and the boat upon which Bogie, Sydney Greenstreet and Mary Astor are sailing is a Japanese cargo boat with limited passenger space.  In fact, it's pretty much limited to just enough passengers for this story.

Across the Pacific doesn't have the emotional depth of Casablanca, but it definitely has a bit deeper/more complex story than the typical Bogart movie.  Not that the plot is complex as, say, The Usual Suspects or L.A. Confidential.  Again, it's a Bogart/John Huston movie; there's no such thing as a subplot.  It's more that the backstories for the characters have a bit of depth that's more common in more recent movies.  Also, this is one of the better mysteries among my Bogart collection -- rather than the "will he or won't he?" question of Casablanca (the greatest film ever made) you spend a great deal of the movie trying to figure out exactly what happened in Rick's (Bogart) background and whether Alberta (Astor) is just along for the ride or if there's more going on with her.

The dialogue's as witty as ever.  Huston and Bogart always seem to have great dialogue written no matter who they enlist to scribe.  Likewise, Bogie and Mary Astor are fantastic together.  Their fun interchanges are Bogie at his best, and she's right on par with him. 

Sydney Greenstreet's character, Dr. Lorenz, is also interesting from an historical point of view.  On the one hand, Dr. Lorenz is one of the earliest film characters I'm aware of who professes an adopted identity with a significantly different culture (the Japanese).  On the other hand, while describing the beauty of some of the Japanese traditions and way of life he simultaneously manages to expose unabashed racism through condescending general comments, such as, "they make excellent servants." 

1942.  Take the historical context and move along.

It's an excellent movie.  I'd place it in the top tier of Bogart films, not one of the many Bogie filler material you find in the rest of the catalog.  Next time you're on a ten mile run you should give it a try.