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Early in World War II, Chungking schoolteacher Lin Yang is recruited to help with the dangerous mission of protecting the Allied supply line from Burma into China. In spite of the danger involved, her determination to help is strengthened when one of her young students is killed in a Japanese air raid. Some time later, she is part of a group of Allied representatives departing from Lashio, on a bus traveling the Burma Road back to China. A bridge outage forces them to spend the night in a monastery along the way, and during the night they watch in horror as a supply convoy of trucks is bombed by Japanese planes. The timing and accuracy of the raid brings them to realize that either one of their group, or perhaps the priest in the monastery, is really an enemy agent. Written by
Good Story, Anna May Wong Make Up For Cheapish Production
A good, tense story and Anna May Wong's leading performance more than make up for this World War II feature's cheapish production and low-budget look. The story is interesting in itself, and it also serves the purpose of illuminating a vital but little-remembered aspect of the world war. Wong also gets support from some of the other cast members, although most of them are well below her stature as a performer.
The setup has Wong as a schoolteacher who is helping to keep the Burma Road supply line open, despite enemy raids and other problems. The main part of the movie comes when she and a bus load of fellow passengers are stuck in a remote monastery along the supply line, as it becomes increasingly clear that one of their little group is a traitor who is tipping off the Japanese Air Force so that they can destroy the supply convoys.
The story is told effectively, and even the low-budget look often actually aids in setting the atmosphere. The suspense is maintained rather well for an extended time, and the story keeps you guessing as long as possible as to just how things will turn out.
The down side includes the dialogue, which is not nearly as good as the story, and some of the flat supporting performances. Dan Seymour is an exception, in a smaller role as the kind of lowlife that he always portrayed convincingly. As Sir Roger, Leslie Denison gives a rather plain performance for most of the movie, but he redeems himself with a fine wordless performance in the tense climactic scene. Nedrick Young has a couple of good moments as an American truck driver, and Connie Leon does a decent job of providing comic relief in her scene as a Burmese bureaucrat.
"Bombs Over Burma" and "Lady From Chungking" both starred Wong, and were both made by the same production company at about the same point in the war. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, but both benefit considerably from Wong's presence, and both were worthwhile in drawing attention to the often forgotten part of the war that was fought on mainland Asia.
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