This rather nasty film is a low budget flag-waver from the B unit at Twentieth Century Fox. It stars Preston Foster as a Police Lt assigned to the Los Angeles district known as "Little Tokyo", an area where many of the local Japanese American population live and work.
The film starts a month before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese have sent an agent, Harold Huber to take control of the Axis spy apparatus in Southern California. Needless to say every Japanese around, seems to be in on the fifth-column act.
Foster has been a cop in the area for years and senses something nefarious is afoot. He warns his boss, Captain J. Farrell Macdonald of his suspicions, but these are blown off. Foster's girl, Brenda Joyce works for a local news radio station. She also thinks Foster is letting his suspicious nature get the better of him.
Foster enlists the help of a Japanese American he was at college with, Richard Loo. He wants Loo to look in on a few people he has heard rumours about. Of course Loo shows up the next day on a slab at the morgue. It takes a bit of detective work to identify the body, since it is sans head.
Now Foster knows, there is more than a few rats in the cheese cupboard. He starts raiding homes and business he suspects of being involved. This just gets him warnings from headquarters when the locals complain about his tactics.
Now we discover that Foster's girl, Brenda Joyce's boss at the radio station, Don Douglas, is really a Nazi. He is in with the Japanese bunch gathering intelligence for the Axis. They use the radio transmitter at the station to send out coded messages.
Foster however keeps being an annoyance to the spy network. They decide to use one of their female operatives, the exotic looking, June Duprez to bag Foster. Duprez is to call up Foster and tell him she has some important information, then, lure him to a meeting.
Foster bites and is soon meeting with Duprez. She hands him a drink and then starts with a cock and bull story of spies etc. The drink of course was drugged and Foster is soon face-down on the floor. Douglas and Huber join the pair. Douglas pours a healthy jolt of whiskey down Foster's throat. They then muss up his clothes, and take his gun. Douglas now shoots Duperz and plants the gun back on Foster. Douglas says to Huber that Duperz has died for the cause. A quick phone call to the Police is now made.
Foster is slapped in jail on a murder beef. Of course everyone believes that Foster has finally went over the edge. What with all the complaints etc against him of late.
Now December 7th arrives and maybe Foster was not so nuts after all. With some aid from others, Foster soon busts out of jail. He hides out at the city morgue, the last place anyone will look for a living person. He then spends his night's shadowing the same people he suspected before. It does not take long before he turns up the proof required. There is now a round-up of the Axis bunch for a date with the rope.
There is more than a little heavy handed spreading of anti-Japanese sentiment in this one. There is a lecture, both at the start, and the finish, about the need to relocate those of Japanese heritage. Seen today, this comes across as hard racism, but at the time, there was real fear of a fifth column. Hard to second guess history, but in reality there were no charges of espionage ever brought against a Japanese American during wartime. (American born Iva Toguri, one of several women dubbed Tokyo Rose, did face charges of treason after the war for her broadcasts)
The film was a hit and packed the theatres.
Brenda Joyce is best remembered today as the second actress to play "Jane" in the popular TARZAN films. June Duprez was on the big screen between 1936 and 1947. Her biggest film was 1947's CALCUTTA, where she played opposite rising star, Alan Ladd.
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