During the Cold War, the Defense Department's War Games team smuggles 48 nuclear bomb parts into the USA to test the nation's readiness for a subversive attack but an unexplained 49th bomb part mysteriously shows up.
U.S.Security Investigation Division chief Paul Reagan (Richard Denning) assigns John Williams (John Ireland) to hunt down a subversive group that has been smuggling A-bomb parts into the United States in specially designed cases. Williams traces the ring to Marseilles, France, where he meets Margo Wayne (Suzanne Dalbert) at a waterfront café and discovers she is part of the plot. When recalled by Reagan, Williams is informed that he has been engaged in a "war games" security check to test America's atomic defense, but he proves to Reagan that enemy agents are actually using the "war games" as a front to smuggle an A-bomb into the country. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although the film is taking place in contemporary 1953, vintage stock footage of San Francisco is of an earlier era, about fifteen years previous, revealing pre-WWII automobiles and streetcars all of which had long since disappeared by the time the film was made. See more »
Nowadays, it's easy for folks to make fun of the Cold War era--and in particular the paranoid 1950s. However, given the proliferation of atomic weapons and a vow from Stalin to destroy the West, it's understandable why so many films of the time were about Communist plots or giant mutant creatures created through atomic fission. So when I see "The 49th Man", I see its plot as a definite product of these scary times--a time when it seemed very possible that the human race would wipe itself out sooner or later. Because of this, the film is a lot more tense than most films--even if the plot is a little far-fetched.
The film begins with a scary discovery--a portion of an atomic bomb is found amidst car wreckage! And, scientists examining it have determined that the weapon has been broken down into dozens are pieces--and each can be easily transported by an enemy agent (i.e., a Commie!). So, it's up to John Ireland (a great Noir actor) to track down the agents and get to the bottom of this plot against America.
Taut action and good acting carry the day here. While this is not a fancy big-budget film, it is entertaining and a great window into a very tense era.
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