Ghost of the China Sea (1958)

73 or 79 mins | Drama | September 1958

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HISTORY

Charles B. Griffith's onscreen credit reads "Written and produced by Charles B. Griffith." The picture begins with an offscreen narrator explaining: "This is the sugar country of Central Luzon. Rich, fat, pretending to be at peace, though the sounds of war grow loud and the invading Japanese draw near." The film contains the following written acknowledgment: "Filmed with the cooperation of Polynesian Productions, Ltd. Richard H. Fairservice President." David Brian, as his character "Martin French," provides a sporadic offscreen narration throughout the film. According to a HR production chart, the picture was shot on location in Hawaii. Ghost of the China Sea marked the last picture made by director Fred Sears, who died of a heart attack on 30 Nov 1957. ... More Less

Charles B. Griffith's onscreen credit reads "Written and produced by Charles B. Griffith." The picture begins with an offscreen narrator explaining: "This is the sugar country of Central Luzon. Rich, fat, pretending to be at peace, though the sounds of war grow loud and the invading Japanese draw near." The film contains the following written acknowledgment: "Filmed with the cooperation of Polynesian Productions, Ltd. Richard H. Fairservice President." David Brian, as his character "Martin French," provides a sporadic offscreen narration throughout the film. According to a HR production chart, the picture was shot on location in Hawaii. Ghost of the China Sea marked the last picture made by director Fred Sears, who died of a heart attack on 30 Nov 1957. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Sep 1958.
---
Daily Variety
28 Aug 58
p. 5.
Film Daily
28 Aug 58
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1957
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Feb 1958
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 58
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Aug 58
p. 960.
Variety
27 Aug 58
p. 6.
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1958
Production Date:
31 October--14 November 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 April 1958
Copyright Number:
LP10296
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
73 or 79
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18905
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1941, as Japanese troops encroach upon the Philippines, plantation owner Justine Woolf refuses to leave her land, even though the government has ordered the evacuation of all civilians. On the day that Rev. Darby Edwards comes to the plantation to convince Justine to flee, Japanese planes appear overhead and strafe the cane fields, killing several workers and sending the rest scurrying into the jungle. Only Justine, Hito Matsumo, the plantation’s meek Japanese bookkeeper, and mechanic Martin French stay behind. Martin, an embittered, angry man, begrudgingly agrees to drive them to the nearest town. When the road is destroyed by a Japanese artillery barrage, they are forced to take to the jungle on foot. After they are captured by an enemy squadron, the captain pronounces a death sentence on Hito for betraying his country, then leaves a private behind to guard the group while he leads the rest of the squad on maneuvers. As Hito distracts the private, an American sailor sneaks up from behind and jumps him. Springing to his feet, Martin strangles the guard, then asserts command over the ragtag group. The sailor, Larry Peters, explains that he became lost in the jungle after leaving his boat to search for several friends who failed to return to the craft. Realizing the boat offers them a means of escape, they trek toward the cove where it is anchored. Along the way, they encounter three peasants, Sabatio Trinidad, Gaetano Gato and Jamie Del Rosario, who agree to lead them to the cove in exchange for passage to Corregidor. Upon reaching the boat, they are dismayed to find a ... +


In 1941, as Japanese troops encroach upon the Philippines, plantation owner Justine Woolf refuses to leave her land, even though the government has ordered the evacuation of all civilians. On the day that Rev. Darby Edwards comes to the plantation to convince Justine to flee, Japanese planes appear overhead and strafe the cane fields, killing several workers and sending the rest scurrying into the jungle. Only Justine, Hito Matsumo, the plantation’s meek Japanese bookkeeper, and mechanic Martin French stay behind. Martin, an embittered, angry man, begrudgingly agrees to drive them to the nearest town. When the road is destroyed by a Japanese artillery barrage, they are forced to take to the jungle on foot. After they are captured by an enemy squadron, the captain pronounces a death sentence on Hito for betraying his country, then leaves a private behind to guard the group while he leads the rest of the squad on maneuvers. As Hito distracts the private, an American sailor sneaks up from behind and jumps him. Springing to his feet, Martin strangles the guard, then asserts command over the ragtag group. The sailor, Larry Peters, explains that he became lost in the jungle after leaving his boat to search for several friends who failed to return to the craft. Realizing the boat offers them a means of escape, they trek toward the cove where it is anchored. Along the way, they encounter three peasants, Sabatio Trinidad, Gaetano Gato and Jamie Del Rosario, who agree to lead them to the cove in exchange for passage to Corregidor. Upon reaching the boat, they are dismayed to find a dilapidated “old tub” that lacks fuel, food, water, ammunition and guns. With only enough gas to power a fifty-mile run, they head for the U.S. Army camp at Sibuyan to stock up on fuel. After docking off the coast of Sibuyan, they trudge inland, reaching the camp just as the Americans are preparing to flee an imminent Japanese invasion. After salvaging several cans of fuel and some guns, they take off and return to their boat, heading for the China Sea. As they near the tip of the Philippines, Martin and Darby engage in a serious discussion about the horrors of killing. Afterward, Justine accuses Martin of finding fault with everyone and asks why he is so angry and distrustful. Later, Darby tells Martin that Justine “is the woman he needs.” With their water nearly depleted, they anchor the boat once again and Justine leads Darby, Larry and Gaetano into the jungle in search of water. As Gaetano stands guard, Justine spots a waterfall. Just then, several Japanese jump out of the brush and kill Gaetano. Witnessing the attack, Darby grabs a machine gun and fires at the Japanese, who return fire, hitting Darby. As Darby lays dying in Justine’s arms, Martin arrives, drawn by the sound of gunfire. With his dying words, Darby entreats them to be “grateful for life.” Determined to prove his mettle, Larry pursues the enemy into the jungle. As the Japanese pounce upon Larry and stab him with a bayonet, a group of natives stage a surprise attack and kill the Japanese. After Martin carries the unconscious Larry back to the boat, Hito decides to pose as a Japanese soldier and send the enemy to the south while the boat heads north. After misdirecting the Japanese, Hito runs up the coast to meet the boat. As Justine upbraids Martin for calling Larry a coward, thus goading him into his foolhardy act of heroism, Hito approaches the boat. They all watch in horror as a group of natives mistake Hito for the enemy and hack him to death with their machetes. The deaths of Hito, Gaetano and Darby have instilled newly found respect in Martin for his companions, and he is relieved when Larry finally regains consciousness. Soon after, Japanese fighter planes appear overhead, and their blazing guns kill Jamie and disable the boat’s engine. As they drift hopelessly in the water, Martin and Justine prepare to face death. When Justine finally admits her love to Martin and asks why he has become so disillusioned with life, he recounts all the injustices he has witnessed. As they talk, Larry, who is burning up with fever, begins to ramble incoherently about seeing a Dutch ship on the horizon. Martin and Justine ignore him until he convinces them to look and see the ship for themselves. To attract the craft’s attention, they set fire to the fuel cans. When the flames are about to engulf the boat, they jump overboard and float on a piece of flotsam, waiting to be rescued by the ship. In horror, they watch as a formation of planes flies overhead and begins firing at the ship. When a plane crashes into the ship and explodes, they believe all hope of rescue is lost until they recognize the planes as belonging to the English and hail them for help. +

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

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