SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (director: Edward Dmytryk; screenwriter: from the novel by Ernest K. Gann/Ernest K. Gann; cinematographer: Leo Tover; editor: Dorothy Spencer; music: Hugo Friedhofer; cast: Clark Gable (Hank Lee), Susan Hayward (Mrs. Jane Hoyt), Michael Rennie (Inspector Merryweather, Hong Kong Marine Police), Gene Barry (Louis Hoyt), Alexander D’Arcy (Rene Dupont Chevalier), Tom Tully (Tweedie, Owner of Tweedie’s Bar), Mel Welles (Fernand Rocha), Richard Loo (General Po Lin), Anna Sten (Madame Dupree); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Buddy Adler; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1955)
“Our fallen man has redeemed himself as a red-blooded Commie hating American.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Edward Dmytryk (“Seven Miles from Alcatraz”/”Warlock”/”Back to Bataan”) directs this misfire anti-Commie Hong Kong thriller that’s saving grace is the stunning location shots that glitter on the wide-screen. The potboiler’s other major asset was that it offended no one despite its silly anti-Commie message. Star Susan Hayworth couldn’t bother going on location because of marital problems and remains back in the studio with her interior scenes shot on a process screen while her exterior scenes were all long takes using a double. Permission was granted by producer Buddy Adler. It’s taken from the novel by Ernest K. Gann, who doubles up turning in the implausible and very weak screenplay.
Aristocratic looking American beauty Jane Hoyt (Susan Hayward) arrives by boat in Hong Kong, a British Crown Colony, to search for her free-lance photojournalist husband Louis (Gene Barry) who went into mainland China a few months ago without a visa to get a story on daily life and has not been heard of since. Jane is informed by the low-level British marine police Inspector Merryweather (Michael Rennie) that his government received no response from China on their requests for information on him. Desperate for answers, Jane seeks help from exiled Chicago thug Hank Lee (Clark Gable), a smoothie garbed in a white linen suit whose gruff exterior hides a heart of gold. Hank, a mercenary and smuggler, falls for Jane and agrees to help–reasoning he can’t win her over without trying at least to get her hubby back. When Hank discovers that Louis is being held by the Communists on the Chinese mainland, he makes a daring effort on his luxurious private junk to rescue the prisoner.
Dmytryk return to big-time mainstream films after years in exile and prison due to being blacklisted by HUAC, unfortunately his direction is dull and the film is crawling with anti-Red dialogue as if to show our fallen man has redeemed himself as a red-blooded Commie hating American.
REVIEWED ON 3/30/2007 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ