Malaya Film Details
Overview: Newspaperman Royer convinces government officials of a plan to obtain rubber by smuggling it out from under the Japanese. Carnahan is let out of prison to help.
Review: This movie is about how close the U.S. war effort (and it’s “arsenal of Democracy” image) came to faltering in 1942. The U.S. has been blessed with many natural resources that other country’s don’t have. Oil for example, or iron ore and steel. Or even huge forests of trees. But we are not a nation with huge stores of rubber. We are dependent on rubber supplies from abroad. Oddly enough one man had tried to counter this. In the teens of the 20th Century, Thomas Edison had become a close friend to Harvey Firestone, the tire king. Firestone had huge rubber plantations in Liberia, but was aware of the dangers to his shipping of rubber in World War I. He discussed the possibility of an alternative to rubber in the U.S. with Edison. It was the Wizard of Menlo Park’s last big project, occupying his life until 1931 when he died. He found that golden rod came closest to being a viable substitute. But little was done with this discovery. In 1942 our rubber was coming from three areas of the globe, and none were next door to us. They were in Liberia and Brazil, both of which were across the Atlantic Ocean to the east or to the south. Nazi u-boats were making shipments from these areas difficult. The third was from southeast Asia, principally from French Indo – China or from Malaya and Indonesia. The movie RED DUST dealt with the rubber plantations in French Indo – China in the 1930s. The Japanese had these plantations and the ones in Malaya and Indonesia in their control from December 1941 onward. To counter the emergency, a rubber-collecting drive occurred across the country (similar to tin and metal drives that children got involved in). But the U.S. government was quick to organize any method to get the rubber that was in Japanese hands. This movie dealt with the scheme that was planned that involved smuggling Rubber out of Malaya. Lionel Barrymore is John Manchester, the editor of the LOS ANGELES RECORD (based on Manchester Boddy). He has gotten Jimmy Stewart, a reporter with a mixed record, to the U.S. Stewart knows about a way to get huge supplies of rubber to the U.S. under the nose (theoretically) of the Japanese. The plan requires the government springing his former friend Spencer Tracy, a big time smuggler, out of Alcatraz. With Tracy Stewart would go to Malaya (with papers showing they are sailors from the neutral Eire – Irish Free State – of Eamon DeValera). They would hook up with Tracy’s old friend “the Dutchman” (Sidney Greenstreet) and he would help find the local wharf rats (including Gilbert Roland) to assist the matter. They would have unlimited American gold to get the men they need, and to bribe the three largest plantation owners in the area (Tom Helmore, Ian MacDonald, and Roland Winters). To sweeten the operation for Tracy, who will get a free pardon for his help, he is reunited with Valentina Cortesa – his girlfriend who works in Greenstreet’s saloon. The film follows the whole operation, which (on the whole) is working well enough – but has it’s dangers. The local Japanese Colonel is Richard Loo, who is suspicious (if dismissive) of westerners, and he soon zeros in on Tracy and Stewart as distinctly odd figures. And one of the three plantation owners, Winters, is a German. He is a greedy man, but he may be closer to the Japanese than the allies. The film works pretty well. My only complaint is the seeming waste of John Hodiak, who is a Federal agent and is seen for twenty minutes at the start of the film, but only turns up at the tail end of it to deliver a medal (I won’t say to whom). This was Sidney Greenstreet’s last movie, and he does look a trifle ill, but he certainly maintains his best standards – as a philosophical gent who knows how to safely balance his friendship with Tracy and his “necessary” friendship with Loo (his relationship with Loo, regarding gambling in his saloon, is similar to that of Rick Blaine with Captain Louis Renault in CASABLANCA). Winters plays his few scenes as an untrustworthy type well. Cortesa has a few good scenes with Tracy, including one where he has to forcibly cause her to leave him when she does not want him. Stewart’s character believes in maintaining his own counsel. At the beginning he seems a hard bitten reporter who has seen the world and skirted the edge of the law a bit. He is cynical. Only later do we realize that a family tragedy has made him less cynical and more patriotic than we realized.
Country: United States
Duration: 98 min
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Film-Noir
Also known as: Malaya,Malaisia,Operation Malaya,Malaia,East of the Rising Sun,Малайя,Malaca,Hemligt uppdrag i Malaya,Malesia,Malaesia,Malasia