Film foreword: "Through the teeming heart of Asia, halfway between Rangood and Shanghai, twists the hand-hewn Burma Road, lifeline for the embattled Army of China, headquartered at Chungking. Over this dangerous seven hundred miles of highway roars a stream of truck---hell drivers at their wheels---trucks loaded with food, munitions, guns...blood and sinew of the defenders of the ancient soil of China. Fountain-head for these vital supplies, end of the rail line from the west is the sprawling Burmese BOOMTOWN OF LASHIO." Story mostly pertains to the trucking of munitions to the Chinese Army under British direction and with some Americans participating, but there is no dialogue references to Japan, and the parachute troops who attempt to sabotage the convoy are identified as Chinese insurrectionists. Two months after its October release, Universal could have called a spade a spade.Accuracy footnote:Despite revisionists sources that seem to think so,this was not distributed in 1941 by ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Associate producer: Marshall Grant. Copyright 26 September 1941 by Universal Pictures. New York opening at the Rialto: 6 October 1941. Released: 17 October 1941 (USA), 8 January 1942 (Australia). 5,462 feet. 60 minutes.
COMMENT: It's rare to find a movie that presents a long-time supporting actor like Charles Bickford in the number one spot as a movie's star performer. But it's 1941 and even "B" pictures must make do with whatever talent is available. And Bickford actually comes off rather well. You can't say that he's not convincing!
The actual plot is serviceable, but nothing special: Enemy agents are targeting Allied convoys along the Burma Road. And naturally, something must be done about it! And who will lead this foray? The Charles Bickford character! Why not? He certainly looks like a seasoned professional - and acts like one too!
So, all told, what we have here is a moderately entertaining wartime propaganda piece, filmed on a comparatively large budget, and zestfully directed by Noel M. Smith. Not exactly a name to conjure with, but Smith knows his business - and that's all that counts!
There is maybe one drawback. If you can't guess the identity of the spy long before the Bicford character wakes up to him, then you obviously haven't seen too many of these pictures! On the other hand although, I readily admit that the script does play perfectly fair.
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