Humphrey Bogart is probably the most beloved, iconic film star in history, so it's amazing that these two Bogie vehicles, made just before and after Casablanca, have only now appeared on video. In both films you can see Bogart, his trademark wince and clipped delivery in full bloom, expanding the straight gangster persona he had created in the '30s into the movies' archetypal cynical moralist.
Dashiell Hammett declined to script a sequel to Bogie's 1941 hit The Maltese Falcon, so Warner Bros. reteamed the Falcon cast with director John Huston for Across the Pacific, a dopey potboiler about a Japanese attempt to bomb the Panama Canal. Fortunately, Huston treats the plot's military intrigue as mere backdrop to Bogart's innuendo-laden banter with costar Mary Astor. She gets the best zingers, as when a rough sea journey prompts her to fume, ''You make me sick, and if you stay here one minute longer I'll prove it to you.'' Only in a preposterous finale does the dialogue degenerate into propagandistic sloganeering. B