To the Ends of the Earth (1948)

104, 106 or 109 mins | Drama | 27 February 1948

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HISTORY

Working titles for this film, which was presented in a semi-documentary style with occasional voice-over narration, were Assigned to Treasury and The 27th Day . The film contains the following written onscreen dedication: "A story based on actual incidents from the files of the United States Department of Treasury, to whom this picture is gratefully dedicated." According to 14 May 1947 HR news item, producer Sidney Buchman took over direction of the picture when Robert Stevenson fell ill, and when Stevenson left for London to fulfill a prior commitment to Alexander Korda. A Jan 1947 Box article indicates that the film was made with the approval of Treasury Department Narcotics Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger, who portrayed himself in the film.
       According to an Aug 1946 LAT news item, business tycoon Jay Richard Kennedy sold his original story to Columbia for $100,000. A 13 Oct 1946 LAT article notes that Kennedy was inspired to write his story after learning about the international drug trade from Harry J. Anslinger. Contemporary news items noted that, in an unprecedented action, the PCA amended clauses prohibiting the detailed portrayal of drugs in film to accomodate this picture. The LAT article credits Kennedy and other "highly placed persons in the government" with having persuaded the PCA to amend its restrictions on such a picture.
       According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the Production Code's provision concerning drugs, which stipulated that "illegal drug traffic must never be presented," was later amended to allow "the illegal drug traffic to be presented provided ... More Less

Working titles for this film, which was presented in a semi-documentary style with occasional voice-over narration, were Assigned to Treasury and The 27th Day . The film contains the following written onscreen dedication: "A story based on actual incidents from the files of the United States Department of Treasury, to whom this picture is gratefully dedicated." According to 14 May 1947 HR news item, producer Sidney Buchman took over direction of the picture when Robert Stevenson fell ill, and when Stevenson left for London to fulfill a prior commitment to Alexander Korda. A Jan 1947 Box article indicates that the film was made with the approval of Treasury Department Narcotics Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger, who portrayed himself in the film.
       According to an Aug 1946 LAT news item, business tycoon Jay Richard Kennedy sold his original story to Columbia for $100,000. A 13 Oct 1946 LAT article notes that Kennedy was inspired to write his story after learning about the international drug trade from Harry J. Anslinger. Contemporary news items noted that, in an unprecedented action, the PCA amended clauses prohibiting the detailed portrayal of drugs in film to accomodate this picture. The LAT article credits Kennedy and other "highly placed persons in the government" with having persuaded the PCA to amend its restrictions on such a picture.
       According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the Production Code's provision concerning drugs, which stipulated that "illegal drug traffic must never be presented," was later amended to allow "the illegal drug traffic to be presented provided it does not stimulate curiousity concerning the use of or traffic in such drugs and provided that there shall be no scenes approved which show the use of illegal drugs or their effects in detail."
       To the Ends of the Earth marked the film debut of Maylia, formerly known as Gloria Chinn, who was the wife of Chinese actor Benson Fong. Although a studio publicity item dated 4 Aug 1947 reported that Dick Powell's personal houseboy, Dick Watanabe, was set for a role in the picture, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Some background footage was filmed in Shanghai, Cairo, Havana and New York. Studio publicity material indicates that the scene in which one hundred Chinese slaves are sent to their deaths in the Pacific Ocean was filmed in the Santa Catalina Island Channel, off the coast of southern California. Publicity material also notes that the marine gun fight sequence, which was directed by Larry Butler, was filmed in the Los Angeles Harbor. The Var review indicates that the final cost of the film was approximately $2,000,000. Although studio records indicate that filming was completed on 19 Feb 1947, HR production charts suggest that production lasted until 23 May. Dick Powell and Signe Hasso recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on 23 May 1949. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
11 Jan 1947.
---
Box Office
24 Jan 1948.
---
Daily Variety
19 Jan 48
p. 3.
Film Daily
19 Jan 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 46
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 46
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 47
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 47
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 47
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 48
p. 3, 12
Hollywood Reporter
17 Feb 48
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
5 Aug 1946.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Jan 48
p. 4010.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Jan 48
p. 4030.
New York Times
13 Feb 48
p. 26.
Variety
21 Jan 48
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Sidney Buchman Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit [dir]--China
2d unit [dir]--Egypt and asst dir
Dir of ocean gun battle seq
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITER
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam
Asst cam
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Tech asst
Scr supv
Grip
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Twenty Seventh Day
Assigned to Treasury
Release Date:
27 February 1948
Production Date:
6 December 1946--19 February 1947
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 February 1948
Copyright Number:
LP1478
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
104, 106 or 109
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12390
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the year 1935, following a United Nations-sponsored meeting of the World Narcotics Commission, the U.S. Treasury Department, Bureau of Narcotics undertakes a crackdown on the worldwide opium trade. Assigned to the investigation is Treasury Department agent Mike Barrows, who is head of the department's San Francisco bureau. Mike is familiar with the ruthless ways of the drug traffickers, having witnessed an unmarked Japanese freighter jettison one hundred Chinese slaves off the San Francisco coast to gain enough speed to outrun a U.S. Coast Guard patrol. A life preserver bearing the name Kira Maru , and a view of the offending captain, as seen through binoculars, are the only clues Mike has to go on as he begins his investigation in Shanghai. There the captain of the ship is tried in absentia and is sentenced to only thirty days in prison if found, angering Mike. Following Mike out of the courtroom is Lum Chi Chow, the Chinese Commissioner of Narcotics, who later plays a recording for Mike of a man talking about the Kira Maru and the 200 slaves it transported to Egypt to plant poppies. Although the exact location of the Egyptian poppy field is unknown to investigators, Lum believes that it will be learned when the flowers are harvested, which must occur five days after the petals fall. Later, while searching notorious drug dealer Nicolas Sokim's rickshaw garage, Mike meets Ann Grant, the widow of an American engineer, who is about to send her young Chinese ward, Shu Pan Wu, to San Francisco. After Sokim fails in his attempt to throw Mike off his trail, he ... +


In the year 1935, following a United Nations-sponsored meeting of the World Narcotics Commission, the U.S. Treasury Department, Bureau of Narcotics undertakes a crackdown on the worldwide opium trade. Assigned to the investigation is Treasury Department agent Mike Barrows, who is head of the department's San Francisco bureau. Mike is familiar with the ruthless ways of the drug traffickers, having witnessed an unmarked Japanese freighter jettison one hundred Chinese slaves off the San Francisco coast to gain enough speed to outrun a U.S. Coast Guard patrol. A life preserver bearing the name Kira Maru , and a view of the offending captain, as seen through binoculars, are the only clues Mike has to go on as he begins his investigation in Shanghai. There the captain of the ship is tried in absentia and is sentenced to only thirty days in prison if found, angering Mike. Following Mike out of the courtroom is Lum Chi Chow, the Chinese Commissioner of Narcotics, who later plays a recording for Mike of a man talking about the Kira Maru and the 200 slaves it transported to Egypt to plant poppies. Although the exact location of the Egyptian poppy field is unknown to investigators, Lum believes that it will be learned when the flowers are harvested, which must occur five days after the petals fall. Later, while searching notorious drug dealer Nicolas Sokim's rickshaw garage, Mike meets Ann Grant, the widow of an American engineer, who is about to send her young Chinese ward, Shu Pan Wu, to San Francisco. After Sokim fails in his attempt to throw Mike off his trail, he kills himself by ingesting poison. As it is unlikely that the drugs will reach Shanghai now that Sokim, the Chinese contact man, is dead, Lum sends Mike to Egypt, where the poppies are now ready for harvest. There Mike discovers a trail of evidence pointing to Ann's complicity in the elaborate drug smuggling operation. The already harvested opium, it is learned, is being transported across the desert in a camel caravan to Beirut, with $1,000,000 in narcotics hidden in the stomachs of the camels. Mike follows the packages containing the drugs to Havana, where the opium is to be refined before it is sent to the United States. Ann's connection with the smuggling operation appears certain when Mike discovers her and Shu Pan in Havana, but he decides to follow the drugs to their final destination before making any arrests. After watching the opium, which is now packed into butter cartons, being loaded onto a ship, Mike boards the ship for the journey to New York. En route, a fire is set in the ship's galley as a diversion, and the packages containing the drugs are thrown overboard with weights attached to them. When Mike discovers evidence that the drugs were ejected from the ship, he notifies the U.S. Coast Guard, which sends a patrol boat out to meet the ship. Mike forces Ann and Shu Pan to accompany him to the dumping site, where they discover a fishing boat already there to pick up the drugs. A gun battle ensues, during which Shu Pan makes a grab for Mike's gun, thereby revealing herself to be the head of the drug smuggling ring. The revelation does not surprise Mike, however, who has known the truth about Shu Pan ever since he witnessed her strange behavior during the shipboard fire. As Mike anticipated that Shu Pan would grab his gun, he loaded it with blanks, thus foiling her attempts to shoot him. With Shu Pan's arrest, Mike brings to an end a worldwide drug smuggling operation. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.