China Venture (1953)

82-83 mins | Drama | September 1953

Director:

Don Siegel

Producer:

Anson Bond

Cinematographer:

Sam Leavitt

Editor:

Jerome Thoms

Production Designer:

Edward Ilou

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title for this film was Operation 16-Z . A long written foreword before the opening titles begins, "Although official Washington will probably neither confirm nor deny this, the central event upon which this film is based actually occurred." The foreword notes in conclusion that the action was officially known as "Operation 16-Z." No other information on an actual case similar to this has been located. China Venture marked the motion picture debut of actress Jocelyn Brando (1919--2005), sister of Marlon ... More Less

The working title for this film was Operation 16-Z . A long written foreword before the opening titles begins, "Although official Washington will probably neither confirm nor deny this, the central event upon which this film is based actually occurred." The foreword notes in conclusion that the action was officially known as "Operation 16-Z." No other information on an actual case similar to this has been located. China Venture marked the motion picture debut of actress Jocelyn Brando (1919--2005), sister of Marlon Brando. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Sep 1953.
---
Daily Variety
26 Aug 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Aug 53
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 53
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 53
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
29 Aug 53
p. 1966.
Variety
26 Aug 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd eng
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Operation 16-Z
Release Date:
September 1953
Production Date:
late March--mid April 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 September 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2900
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
82-83
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16456
SYNOPSIS

On the south China coast in the early months of 1945, U. S. Marine Capt. Matt Reardon receives confirmation that a transport plane carrying Japanese Admiral Amara has been shot down. The gravely injured Amara is in the hands of a local Chinese guerrilla warlord high in the mountains. Upon reporting to his superiors, Matt is ordered to meet with submarine Capt. Dryden, who introduces him to Commander Bert Thompson of Naval Intelligence. Matt and a small escort are assigned to take Bert and a medical unit into the mountain jungles to locate and rescue Amara, considered a valuable intelligence asset. Matt balks when he discovers the medical unit includes Lt. Ellen Wilkins, but Bert and Dr. Masterson insist that as a top surgical nurse, she is crucial to saving Amara. Upon returning to Matt's small camp, the group discovers the native guide missing, the radio engineer murdered and the communications hut sabotaged with explosives. A Japanese sniper fires on the group until Matt shoots him. Although without the first of their three expected jungle guides, Matt starts the mission the next morning at Bert's urging. Each member of the unit is forced to carry several pounds of medical equipment, which slows their progress and irritates Matt. As they push into the jungle, a strong storm causes a river runoff that forces the group off their path. When a falling tree injures one of the soldiers, Bert insists they stop and rest, despite Matt's determination to reach their designated rendezvous point with the second guide. The next morning as the weather clears, Sgt. Hank Janowicz spots a Japanese army party also heading to the mountains, ... +


On the south China coast in the early months of 1945, U. S. Marine Capt. Matt Reardon receives confirmation that a transport plane carrying Japanese Admiral Amara has been shot down. The gravely injured Amara is in the hands of a local Chinese guerrilla warlord high in the mountains. Upon reporting to his superiors, Matt is ordered to meet with submarine Capt. Dryden, who introduces him to Commander Bert Thompson of Naval Intelligence. Matt and a small escort are assigned to take Bert and a medical unit into the mountain jungles to locate and rescue Amara, considered a valuable intelligence asset. Matt balks when he discovers the medical unit includes Lt. Ellen Wilkins, but Bert and Dr. Masterson insist that as a top surgical nurse, she is crucial to saving Amara. Upon returning to Matt's small camp, the group discovers the native guide missing, the radio engineer murdered and the communications hut sabotaged with explosives. A Japanese sniper fires on the group until Matt shoots him. Although without the first of their three expected jungle guides, Matt starts the mission the next morning at Bert's urging. Each member of the unit is forced to carry several pounds of medical equipment, which slows their progress and irritates Matt. As they push into the jungle, a strong storm causes a river runoff that forces the group off their path. When a falling tree injures one of the soldiers, Bert insists they stop and rest, despite Matt's determination to reach their designated rendezvous point with the second guide. The next morning as the weather clears, Sgt. Hank Janowicz spots a Japanese army party also heading to the mountains, and Matt realizes they are also searching for Amara. When Matt and the group arrive at the next guide meeting point, there are a number of elderly Chinese and children but no guide. Matt asks their translator, Ensign Wong, to inquire if the Japanese have already come through, but all refuse to give information. When Matt finds an empty Japanese cigarette pack, however, he realizes they are now trailing the Japanese. The unit hastens through the mountains and late in the afternoon spot a fire. Taking Matt aside, Bert confides that the purpose of rescuing Amara is that, aware that the war is lost, the admiral had shown a willingness to discuss ways to hasten the war's end with American officials. Bert explains that even if he cannot get the vital information from Amara, it is Matt's duty to complete the mission and return him to the States. Rankled, Matt nevertheless agrees, and later makes a short reconnaissance trip with Hank and Wong. They discover the Japanese unit by the fire, waiting for the Chinese guide to lead them to the guerrilla warlord. As night falls, Matt sends Wong back to Bert with orders to attack the Japanese flank while he and Hank attack from the front. The attack is successful, although Wong and another soldier are killed and Masterson receives a slight wrist wound. While tending to their injured, the unit is approached by a number of Chinese led by Chang Sung, the representative of warlord Wu King. Chang indicates that Wu is indifferent to whether he leads the Japanese or the Americans to Amara, as long as he is paid in American dollars, which Bert has authority to pay. After agreeing on a fee, Chang and his men lead the unit to the site of Amara's plane crash and the admiral, who lies inside with a critical spinal injury. Chang insists Bert pay before Masterson begins surgery. During the operation, Masterson's wound keeps him from proceeding, and he talks Ellen successfully through the delicate procedure. The next day Bert tells Matt that Amara revealed that his countrymen would fight until the death and that it is imperative he reach America. Meanwhile, drums announce the arrival of Wu, who demands additional money before he will allow Amara's departure. Bert is forced to contact Dryden for authorization, and later Dryden advises that the money will be available at the coast, but Wu refuses to leave the mountains. Even after Bert promises that a runner will return with the money, Wu refuses until Matt convinces him to hold one of the Americans hostage to ensure the money's delivery. Bert and Ellen worry that without Matt the group will never be able to find their way through the jungle, so Bert devises a plan to remain behind as the hostage. The next day, a reluctant Matt and the others carry Amara off toward the coast. Shortly afterward, Japanese parachuters arrive at Wu's camp and Bert is suddenly made a prisoner whom Wu plans to sell to the Japanese. Bert kills Wu with the warlord's own gun and manages to radio ahead and alert Matt to the presence of the Japanese, before they kill him. Matt then gets Amara to the submarine and eventually he arrives safely in America. A few months later, when the decision to use the atomic bomb is made, Matt realizes the magnitude of their mission and of Bert's sacrifice. +

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.