In Shanghai, Elena Varnoff attempts to learn the secret of the priceless-and-hidden St. Petersburg from Karl Renner, an Axiz agent working with the Japanese. Elene goes to Colonel Suyakawa to sell her information but he dismisses her. "Briggs" Hannon forces himself into Elena's affairs and offers to help her ransack Renner's apartment but he, however, has found the real secret to the jewels, a small clock. Except he doesn't have the clock. They have a tip it is in Peking, and Hannon goes on alone to contact Wing Fu, who has the complement code to the clock. But Elena, who is a Dutch spy, thinks Hannon is working for the Axis forces, and has him arrested. She learns that Hannon is really an American agent and a friend of the Chinese, named Terry Jordan but he has been turned over to Captain Muto and sentenced to die. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Between the time that production of the film was completed and it was released, screenwriter Lynn Riggs enlisted in the U.S. Army. According to a United Press report dated 16 October 1942, Private Lynn Riggs was an usher at the Fort Ord, California, movie theatre when "Destination Unknown" was featured. See more »
A rare nonhorror title in Universal's Shock Theater television package
This Universal wartime quickie was one of the nonhorror titles included in the SHOCK! package issued to television in the late 1950s, viewed less frequently as the years have passed. Directed in brisk fashion by serial specialist Ray Taylor, the setting is China circa 1940-41, before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. German Karl Renner (Felix Basch) possesses a secret note showing the whereabouts of a cache of jewels designed to help the Chinese fight against Japan; among those seeking the hidden treasure are Elena Varnoff (Irene Hervey), Renner's former consort, and Briggs Hannon (William Gargan), aided by secret agent Secretary (Keye Luke). The villains, aside from Renner, all have disappointingly small roles, especially the excellent Turhan Bey, whose Captain Muto only shows up in the last reel. Many familiar Universal faces appear, such as Olaf Hytten, wearing Chinese makeup as the shopkeeper who helps Hannon crack the code, Edward Van Sloan, in for one sequence as one of Elena's allies, and Victor Wong, the Chinese cook in both "King Kong" and "The Son of Kong," seen aboard a train. Also familiar is Hans J. Salter's music score, almost entirely cribbed from "The Ghost of Frankenstein," released while this film was still in production. The lovely Irene Hervey easily stands out in the mostly foreign cast, and would next star in one of Universal's greatest wartime horrors, "Night Monster," opposite Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, another SHOCK! title.
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