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A Warner Bros. press release for this film dated December 1941 included in the file on the film in the AMPAS Library announced that Dennis Morgan and Ann Sheridan were to star. In her autobiography, Mary Astor notes that the original script was about a Japanese invasion of Hawaii, but after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the location was hastily changed to Panama. The Variety review points out that the title is thus a "misnomer" as none of the action takes place in the Pacific. Production began shortly before the bombing and was closed down and restarted in March 1942. On March 3, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast. At that time, Astor reports, the film kept losing its Japanese actors as they were rounded up by the United States government and sent to relocation camps. According to information in the file on the film at the USC Cinema-Television Library, however, Chinese actors were cast as Japanese from the beginning and with the exception of technical advisor Dan Fujiwara and a few bit players, no Japanese participated in the making of the film. As evidenced by the cast credits and as noted by the New Yorker review, Chinese actors played the roles of Japanese spies. Colonel J. G. Taylor acted as technical advisor on the court-martial scenes.
Before the picture was finished, director John Huston was summoned to report to the department of Special Services, and on April 22, 1942 Vincent Sherman took over as director, according to information at USC. In a modern interview, Huston relates that when he knew he was leaving, he filmed a scene in which he tied Humphrey Bogart to a chair with Japanese guards at every window and door and left Sherman to figure out a way to get Bogart's character out of his dilemma. Sherman managed to figure out a solution, but the resulting ending is somewhat implausible. The production finished ten days over schedule. This film marked the reunion of stars Bogart, Greenstreet and Astor and director Huston, who worked together in Warner Bros.' hit film The Maltese Falcon (see below).