State Department File 649 (1949)

88 mins | Drama | February 1949

Director:

Sam Newfield

Producer:

Sigmund Neufeld

Cinematographer:

Jack Greenhalgh

Editor:

Holbrook Todd

Production Designer:

Edward C. Jewell

Production Company:

Sigmund Neufeld Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film's working title was File 649--State Department . The film's title was also shown as State Department--File 649 . The foreword on the viewed print stated that the film was dedicated to "the unsung and often unhonored heroes" of the Foreign Service of the United States "who have given their health and their lives in obscurity." Although the film is presented as a recreation of a case history, several reviewers questioned the authenticity of the film's story. Said Bosley Crowther in his NYT review: "Film Classics has not broken any new ground. Nor can we believe that its 'documentary' tribute is based on an actual file." In addition, Alton Cook, whose review was excerpted in HR 's Reviews of reviews column, noted: "Hollywood has opened a new offensive against the Chinese. During the war years, filmdom's old-fashioned heathen Chinese was replaced by our gallant Chinese allies. Recent Communist victories there apparently have made China a fair hunting ground for villainy once more...This picture's importance lies in serving notice that the makers of B pictures have gone back to their pre-war notion that Charlie Chan is one of the few good Chinese walking this earth." A pre-production news item in the LAT stated that Gene Raymond was to star in the film, but he was later replaced by William Lundigan. From 1928 to 1949, Peking, China's capital city, was known as Peiping, and Nanking was the capital. In 1949, Peking surrendered to Communist forces and was again made the Chinese ... More Less

The film's working title was File 649--State Department . The film's title was also shown as State Department--File 649 . The foreword on the viewed print stated that the film was dedicated to "the unsung and often unhonored heroes" of the Foreign Service of the United States "who have given their health and their lives in obscurity." Although the film is presented as a recreation of a case history, several reviewers questioned the authenticity of the film's story. Said Bosley Crowther in his NYT review: "Film Classics has not broken any new ground. Nor can we believe that its 'documentary' tribute is based on an actual file." In addition, Alton Cook, whose review was excerpted in HR 's Reviews of reviews column, noted: "Hollywood has opened a new offensive against the Chinese. During the war years, filmdom's old-fashioned heathen Chinese was replaced by our gallant Chinese allies. Recent Communist victories there apparently have made China a fair hunting ground for villainy once more...This picture's importance lies in serving notice that the makers of B pictures have gone back to their pre-war notion that Charlie Chan is one of the few good Chinese walking this earth." A pre-production news item in the LAT stated that Gene Raymond was to star in the film, but he was later replaced by William Lundigan. From 1928 to 1949, Peking, China's capital city, was known as Peiping, and Nanking was the capital. In 1949, Peking surrendered to Communist forces and was again made the Chinese capital. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
11 Feb 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 48
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Dec 48
p. 4410.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Feb 1949.
---
New York Times
21 Feb 49
p. 20.
Variety
16 Feb 49
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Orig story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Master of prop
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus score
SOUND
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Tech adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Cinecolor consultant
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
File 649--State Department
Release Date:
February 1949
Production Date:
mid September--early October 1948 at Nassour Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Film Classics, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 January 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2110
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Color
Cinecolor
Duration(in mins):
88
Length(in feet):
7,891
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

At the State Department in Washington, D.C., ex-marine Kenneth R. Seeley, whose file number is 6-4-9, is trained for a new post as a foreign service officer in the northern regions of China. While in training, Ken falls in love with foreign service officer Margaret Waldon. When he was a boy, Ken's missionary parents were murdered by Mongolian bandits, and consequently, he has a desire to return to China to do his part in keeping the peace there. Ken flies to Peiping and finds himself in the middle of a revolution that has killed numerous Americans. Immediately upon his arrival, Ken is nearly killed, but escapes unharmed to his post at Ming-Goo. Ken, along with Marge and American Don Logan, are to aid consul Howard Brown, who is being watched by an elaborate spy network. When the Americans see a caravan of armed men pass through Ming-Goo, they begin to suspect that exiled warlord Marshal Yun Usu is preparing for a coup. Within days, Yun Usu arrives in a trailer and takes control of the consulate, holding the Americans hostage. After Johnny Han, the consulate's radio operator, calls for help, his arms are cut off by the marshal's guards, and he dies. Wonto, the village undertaker, who is friendly with the Americans, smuggles dynamite into the consulate in Johnny's crematory urn. Meanwhile, Yun Usu orders the execution of several villagers whom he accuses of being government sympathizers. Later, when the American embassy at Nanking calls and promises to send an airplane if they receive no word from the consulate within twenty-four hours, Yun Usu orders Ken to fix the radio. While ... +


At the State Department in Washington, D.C., ex-marine Kenneth R. Seeley, whose file number is 6-4-9, is trained for a new post as a foreign service officer in the northern regions of China. While in training, Ken falls in love with foreign service officer Margaret Waldon. When he was a boy, Ken's missionary parents were murdered by Mongolian bandits, and consequently, he has a desire to return to China to do his part in keeping the peace there. Ken flies to Peiping and finds himself in the middle of a revolution that has killed numerous Americans. Immediately upon his arrival, Ken is nearly killed, but escapes unharmed to his post at Ming-Goo. Ken, along with Marge and American Don Logan, are to aid consul Howard Brown, who is being watched by an elaborate spy network. When the Americans see a caravan of armed men pass through Ming-Goo, they begin to suspect that exiled warlord Marshal Yun Usu is preparing for a coup. Within days, Yun Usu arrives in a trailer and takes control of the consulate, holding the Americans hostage. After Johnny Han, the consulate's radio operator, calls for help, his arms are cut off by the marshal's guards, and he dies. Wonto, the village undertaker, who is friendly with the Americans, smuggles dynamite into the consulate in Johnny's crematory urn. Meanwhile, Yun Usu orders the execution of several villagers whom he accuses of being government sympathizers. Later, when the American embassy at Nanking calls and promises to send an airplane if they receive no word from the consulate within twenty-four hours, Yun Usu orders Ken to fix the radio. While retrieving glass tubes from the marshal's trailer, Ken plants the dynamite on the battery beneath it. During the return call to Nanking, Ken purposefully says that the marshal is on the air to tip off the embassy. To protect himself from an American assault, Yun Usu takes Ken hostage in his trailer, and leaves the village. After the trailer hits a peasant child in the road and the marshal refuses to stop, Ken reconnects the battery wire. The marshal then boasts that his revolution cannot proceed without him, and Ken calls him a "mad dog," for which he is shot in the stomach. Before he collapses, Ken turns on the trailer radio, triggering an explosion that kills all onboard. Later, in Washington, D.C., Ken's name is added to a list of foreign service officers who died while serving their country. +

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.