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On Chicago's South Side reporter Ed Ames finds the body of a dead girl. Her address book leads to a host of names of men frightened by her death but claiming never to have known her. Ames comes to know quite a lot, dangerously so.
Shortly before Pearl Harbor, American opportunist Jones and partner Johnny are in China to sell oil to the invading Japanese army. Cynical about the sufferings of the Chinese, Jones meets compassionate teacher Carolyn Grant while travelling cross-country to Shanghai. Sparks fly between these strong-willed characters, neither budging an inch. But when Jones witnesses a Japanese atrocity, his feelings toward his customers (and Carolyn) begin to change... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
I knew a girl like you once. She had an act in a circus. Used to crack a whip and make lions jump through paper hoops.
And you prefer the lipstick sort, huh?
Yes, mostly because I don't like jumping through paper hoops.
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"China, as big a picture as the nation that inspired it."
Paramount got caught short in 1943, their big discovery Alan Ladd was about to be drafted for who knew how long. So they had to get as much work out of him as they could before Uncle Sam claimed his services. That's the only reason that Alan Ladd at the threshold of his stardom was rushed into this film.
That promotion line that I quoted in the title was as big a piece of hyperbole as ever came out of a publicity man's mind. China is clearly a B picture that was probably ready to roll with lesser known leads. Alan Ladd, Loretta Young, and William Bendix with a cast of Oriental players who never before or since in film history got as much work as during World War II, were rushed into this typical flagwaver.
Ladd and Bendix are a couple of Americans who sell gasoline to whomever pays and in the Orient before Pearl Harbor, the Japanese yen was the strongest currency going. The Sino-Japanese war forces a sudden change in location of operations for them. Fleeing the city they were in, they come across Loretta Young, missionary teacher with a group of young girls in her charge.
From this point on anyone who's watched any World War II era war pictures can figure the rest of the story from here. Loretta is as luminescent as ever, but she and Ladd have no chemistry at all. Ladd knows what Paramount is doing here and looks bored. Except in his scenes with sidekick Bendix. The two of them were close friends in real life. Bill Bendix was never bad in anything he did.
By the way the movie poster that Paramount put out advertising China has a picture of Alan Ladd, bare-chested, machinegun in hand and sporting muscles that the Governator of Cal-lee-fornia would envy. In Alan Ladd's golden era at Paramount, they had some set of brass ones to put him in this nickelplated clinker.
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