In November 1941, American news photographer Johnny 'Bugsy' Williams manages to escape from the Japanese and finds himself back in Burma where he meets the beautiful Miss Haoli Young. ...
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In November 1941, American news photographer Johnny 'Bugsy' Williams manages to escape from the Japanese and finds himself back in Burma where he meets the beautiful Miss Haoli Young. Johnny is also a flyer and his friend Shorty McGuire is after him to join the Flying Tigers. He could make a small fortune filming the Burma Road but puts off the opportunity to be with Haoli, but she leaves unexpectedly for Kunming where her father runs a school. He has a price on his head and spies working for the Japanese are ready to nab him. When he hears that the Japanese are going to wipe out Kunming, he sets off to rescue Haoli.Written by
FIGHTING TIGRESS! In her heart...cold hate that defied the terror of the Japs...warm love for a fighting, flying Yank! Here is tempestuous romance amid the flame and violence of today's mighty conflict! See more »
I'm a big Gene Tierney fan, so I tuned into this one with some eagerness, hoping to see a film that captured pre-WWII tensions in SE Asia and gave the luscious actress some room to shine. And while Gene does have a few moments of brilliance, the rest of the film is a mish-mash of good and bad elements. The whole is somewhat less than satisfying.
My biggest problem is that this film doesn't really know what it wants to be: action movie, spy/war thriller, romance, drama, or anti-Japanese war propaganda. The script tries to be all things to all people and ends up satisfying no one. Plot elements are left hanging unresolved. One line of tough guy dialog is followed by another trying to stir hearts about the plight of the Chinese nationalists. What a mess! George Montgomery is a poor man's Clark Gable, and he's almost a caricature in this film - tough guy only looking out for himself who falls hard for a "dame" caught up in the mess that was China and Burma in 1941. Though Tierney gets top billing, it's really Montgomery's film, and he's not up to carrying it. He's pretty good at the action stuff, but he's lost in the romantic scenes. Plus, his comedic timing is way off. It doesn't help him that the screenwriter gave him some terribly cheesy dialog.
There is little depth to any of the supporting cast, although Robert Blake gives a scene-stealing performance as a young Burmese kid (of all things) that pals around with our hero in Mandalay.
There are some good elements here - some exotic shots that appear to be on location (if they're backlot, they fooled me), and a wonderful set in the hotel in Mandalay. The action scenes often move well. The movie doesn't pull punches, either - we see Chinese civilians being mowed down by Japanese machine guns, and our hero crawls across a ditch of dead bodies in an early escape scene. This is more grim than I expected from a film more than 60 years old, and it's effectively done.
But overall, I can't recommend this film to hardly anyone. There are better films about Japanese brutality in SE Asia during WWII ("Bridge on the River Kwai" or "Objective, Burma") and certainly better films for Tierney fans (my recs - "Laura", "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", and "Leave Her to Heaven"). Give this one a pass and consign it to the history books.
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