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During the 1950s an American journalist disappears in China. His wife, Jane Hoyt, arrives in Honk Kong, determined to find him. There are rumors that Louis Hoyt might be held by the Communist Chinese as spy. Jane Hoyt asks shady shipping magnate Hank Lee for his help but Hank tries to dissuade her from venturing into Red China. Desperate, Jane asks another local, Fernand Rocha, for his help and pays him money. When dishonest and sleazy charlatan Rocha spends her money and forcibly confines her Hank Lee finally takes pity on her and decides to go searching for her husband himself. Illegally entering Red China Hank finds plenty of trouble. Written by
Even toward the end of his marvelous career, Clark Gable's screen persona of the charming, irresistible bounder was untarnished. Unhappy with the roles MGM was giving him, he did not renew his contract. "Soldier of Fortune," which Gable subsequently did for 20th Century Fox, is a big budget, good-looking movie with big stars, none of which can hide the fact that it's a routine story that John Hodiak could have done in black and white in 1950 and probably did.
Susan Hayward plays a woman who arrives in Hong Kong to look for her photographer husband (Gene Barry) who has slipped into China illegally. She runs into of a bunch of sleazy characters and finally meets Henry Lee (Gable), a soldier of fortune with money and contacts. He's an older version of Rhett Butler - out for himself but capable of goodness as well. He falls hard for Hayward and becomes more determined than ever to find her husband so he doesn't have to compete with a ghost. With two such attractive stars, it's obvious what's going to happen.
The stars and the supporting cast - Michael Rennie, Tom Tully, Anna Sten et al - are all very good. It's a beautifully photographed film that undoubtedly looked great on the big screen with its Technicolor panoramas of Hong Kong, but alas, it's not very exciting. Gable looks fantastic and immaculate in his white suit, his smile as dimpled and his voice as gruff as ever, and Hayward, not the warmest actress who ever lived, is excellent as a concerned and confused woman. They work very well together.
It's hard to say the movie is not worth seeing because as excellent as some of our actors are today, there are no Gables. There was only one - and checking him out is always worthwhile.
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