Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Federal agents are working on busting a ring of crooks smuggling illegal aliens from Asia. In one case, when the Feds get too close to a plane with human cargo, the smugglers don't hesitate to dump an entire family out over the ocean to their deaths. When smuggler J. Carroll Naish tries to bully a renowned Chinese art dealer into giving jobs to some of the aliens, he refuses; in retaliation, the dealer and his daughter (Anna May Wong) are kidnapped, shot, and dumped at the docks. Wong manages to escape and goes to the rich and respected society matron Cecil Cunningham for help, not realizing that Cunningham is actually the big boss of the smuggling ring. Chinese federal agent Philip Ahn is working on the case, but Wong decides to work on her own and tracks down the other end of the ring to a Central American island where Charles Bickford, owner of a sleazy nightclub, rounds up the illegals to send north. Wong takes a job as a dancer there and finds incriminating evidence; she also finds Ahn who is working undercover with the smugglers. Together, they get on the boat for San Francisco, but are discovered mid-trip. They manage to escape only to wind up at Cunningham's house where they discover the truth about the nice old lady and tables get turned a couple of times before a happy ending for Wong and Ahn, who get engaged after the ring is broken. This hour-long B-thriller was part of TCM's Asian Images in Film series, and is one of the few studio movies of the era to feature two Asian leads played by Asian actors, though oddly, Anna May Wong is billed first and Ahn, who is clearly the male lead, is billed ninth! Otherwise, aside from the shocking opening scene of the family dumped to their deaths (which perhaps inspired a similar scene in a Ronald Reagan B-film a couple of years later), this movie is strictly routine. The bad guys include Buster Crabbe (who also played Tarzan and Flash Gordon) and Anthony Quinn, and Frank Sully has a small but crucial role as Cunningham's Irish chauffeur. [TCM]

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