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State Department: File 649 (1949)

U.S. Foreign Service officer matches wits with a Chinese warlord to try to save American citizens threatened with execution.


Sam Newfield (as Peter Stewart)


Milton Raison (original story), Milton Raison (screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
William Lundigan ... Ken Seely
Virginia Bruce ... Marge Walden
Jonathan Hale ... Director-General
Frank Ferguson ... Consul Reither
Richard Loo ... Marshal Yun Usu
Philip Ahn ... Col. Aram
Raymond Bond Raymond Bond ... Consul Brown
Milton Kibbee ... Bill Sneed
Victor Sen Yung ... Johnny Han
Lora Lee Michel ... Jessica
John Holland ... Ballinger
Harlan Warde ... Rev. Morse
Carole Donne Carole Donne ... Mrs. Morse
Barbara Woodell ... Carrie
Robert Stevenson ... Mongolian Spy (as Robert Stephenson)


Kenneth Seeley, member of the U. S. State Department's Foreign Service Bureau, and Marge Weldon, a morale worker with the bureau, are assigned to an area in Mongolia dominated by an outlaw warlord. The latter captures the village where they reside and when escape is clearly impossible, Seeley blows up the outlaw's headquarters, losing his own life in doing so. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 February 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

File 649: State Department See more »


Box Office


$750,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Cinecolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?

Alternate Versions

Television prints are in black and white. See more »


Referenced in Stevie D (2016) See more »

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User Reviews

Cold War Oddity
24 February 2018 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Slow-moving Cold War cheapo without the courage of its convictions. In '48 the Chinese Civil War was in full swing-- red Mao vs. nationalist Chiang, with an outcome still in doubt. The Soviets half-heartedly supported the rebel Mao while the US supplied the nationalists. With the Cold War heating up across Europe and Asia, Hollywood began celebrating government agencies in what many saw as a first line of defense against communist penetration. Here, it's the State Department getting the cosmetic treatment. Note, for example, the celebratory prologue.

The impressively handsome Lundigan plays a Foreign Service officer sent to China to assist a besieged legation. There, while romancing colleague Bruce, he experiences the brutal machinations of a warlord (Loo) who's playing both warring sides against the middle. In short, the material implies a larger scale drama than what it receives from this indie production. At the same time, the script plays it safe, never once mentioning communists or Mao. Instead, they're referred to as rebels in the North, while the US maintains diplomatic ties with the government in the South. In short, the screenplay tries to clumsily finesse a critical issue of the day, while we read between the lines.

As other reviewers point out, there's much too much talk dominating the latter half, most of it within the cheap confines of warlord Loo's trailer! The gab adds up to a downer despite the fiery upshot. On a similar note, Lundigan's spiffy gray suit remains unblemished no matter the grimy surroundings-- no doubt a concession to the Service's image. Too bad director Newfield adds nothing to the pedestrian script. Some atmosphere would have helped

On the other hand, crowded scenes of the Chinese town are well done and fairly persuasive, even though the production never leaves greater LA (Iverson Ranch, and the studio). And what a neat burst of inspiration to couple the Chinese fire-eater with the American bubble-gum chewer. In my book, it may be the movie's highlight, an amusing pairing of East and West. At the same time, chubby little Michel just about steals the show from the stiffed-up adults.

All in all, the 87-minutes unfortunately adds up to a bigger bite than the meagre budget could chew.

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