Neale and Pedro fly cargo between Chungking and Calcutta. When their buddy Bill is murdered they investigate. Neale meets Bill's fiancée Virginia and becomes suspicious of a deeper plot while also falling for her charms.
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Neale Gordon and Pedro Lake, commercial pilots who fly the hump between Chungking and Calcutta learn, when they reach Calcutta, that their pal, Bill Cunningham, has been murdered. Neales investigation leads him to the Chalgani Club, run by Eric Lasser. Marina Tanov, the club's Russian singer, in love with Neale, tells him that Bill was engaged to an American girl, Virginia Moore. Neale seeks out Virginia, who admits that Bill gave her the $10,000 necklace she is wearing. Knowing that Bill never had that kind of money, Neale checks up. He learns that Bill had actually bought and paid for it. Neale and Virginia are having a drink at the bar when Pedro shows Neale a valuable star-sapphire which he found in the hangar. The pilots then realize they have stumbled onto a smuggling racket. Neale is convinced that Virginia is not involved. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The team of Alan Ladd and William Bendix, as good friends off the screen as is shown on the screen in Calcutta, is the only real reason to watch this potboiler of an adventure story. The version I saw had several minutes cut out of it that were crucial to the plot.
Ladd and Bendix play a pair of pilots ferrying cargo and passengers from Chungking to Calcutta and back over the 'Hump' which is what the pilots in wartime called the Himalayas. The native people there more picturesquely called the mountain range, 'the roof of the world'. It was a dangerous run and these guys decided to keep doing it and make some money after World War II. You can see the flag of Nationalist Kuomintang China on their flight jackets.
Anyway a third buddy of there's John Whitney greets them in Calcutta after a dangerous run in which cargo had to be dumped and announces he's getting married. Ladd who has a loose relationship with June Duprez, and Bendix both don't think terribly much of the idea, but congratulate him anyway.
The next day Whitney is strangled in the streets of Calcutta and Ladd and Bendix like in The Blue Dahlia the previous year are on the trail of the culprit. The first stop is Whitney's fiancé, pretty Gail Russell, who knows a lot more than she's telling. Let's just say that a whole lot of pilots are being made out to be saps.
Tremendous events were going in both India and China at the time that Paramount was making Calcutta on their sound-stage yet from the story you would never know it. No hint at all is made about the Communist insurgency in China and in India you would think the British Raj was going to last another hundred years. Not one word about it in this potboiler of a plot which the Films of Alan Ladd says resembles Terry And The Pirates.
Probably Calcutta would have been a lot better had we seen more of Bendix in the film. That's always good for any picture. However he gets to try and earn a living for the two of them while Ladd stays in Calcutta to solve the mystery. However it's Bendix who hears something from merchant Paul Singh that he tells Ladd about that starts the whole thing to unravel. Later on Bendix runs some interference with the British police that allows Ladd to stay free and solve the case.
Calcutta is so typical of the potboiler films Ladd did and carried on the strength of his personality. It hasn't much else to recommend it.
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