Kay Murdock (Lynn Bari) strolls into the Dixie Bar in Shanghai on November 1, 1941 and asks the bartender for a letter addressed to Captain Larsen, and is referred to Roy Bonnell (Preston ...
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Kay Murdock (Lynn Bari) strolls into the Dixie Bar in Shanghai on November 1, 1941 and asks the bartender for a letter addressed to Captain Larsen, and is referred to Roy Bonnell (Preston Foster), the manager of this combination bar and gambling house. He refuses to turn the letter over to her and she steals it. Bonnell later recovers the letter which contains a coded note. Kay reveals she is an agent of the British Secret Service. Bonnell, a fugitive from American justice, says he will turn over the note to the highest bidder. When he approaches the Japanese, they seize him but he escapes, after learing that the note was part of an alarm for Japanese fifth columnists everywhere after the attack on Pearl Harbor that has just been set in motion. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THe movie went into production the night of 8 December 1941, one day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 20th-Century/Fox head Darryl Zanuck wanted his studio to be the first to deal with the Japanese sneak attack on film. Within a matter of weeks, the film was in theaters where it became a box office smash, much to the dismay of critics. See more »
Leonard Maltin reviews this picture in his Classic Movie Guide. He missed it altogether but, hey, nobody's perfect. By his description it is a "dated espionage film"...and he's right - it is. It was released in 1942, which makes it 73 years old, but his 3-line synopsis doesn't do it justice.
There are several similarities to "Casablanca" that nobody has mentioned yet. The main character (Preston Foster) is an American expatriate who owns a bar, although this time in Shanghai. Customers of all stripes come and go; some are suspicious, some not. Of course, there are shady goings-on, or else what's the point of making the movie. A voluptuous woman (Lynn Bari) slinks in one night and asks suspicious questions. Her presence triggers some of the local baddies into action. He is attracted to her and his curiosity is aroused. There follows non-stop action as the Japanese close in on the both of them. It is tense and gripping and the 72 minutes flies by, and at break-neck speed.
Can't tell you how rewarding it is to watch an unknown movie and get a big payoff. There wasn't a bad acting job in the lot, and the taut direction was by actor-director Irving Pichel, who directed many unknown gems like this one. If you like well-done spy pictures, this one is for you. Try and see it if you can.
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