An engrossing, globetrotting semi-documentary on the evils of narcotics pushers, specifically those who try smuggling opium onto U.S. shores. Powell is a government man investigating a plot to spread the use of opium throughout the world. He finds his first clue along the West Coast where
the Japanese crew of an unchartered ship is drawing some attention. Before Powell can catch up with them they reach the safety of international waters, leaving behind 100 opium plantation slaves floating face down in the water. Powell follows the clues to Shanghai where he locates the gang, but he
is unable to hang the murders on them. He does, however, discover that Hasso, while acting as governess to the orphaned Maylia, is engineering the gang's moves. After a stop in Egypt, where the plantations are located, Powell travels to Cuba, the site of the next opium shipment. Some brilliant
deductions and lucky guesswork prove correct and Powell is able to crack the operation after a highspeed boat chase along the New Jersey coast. As it turns out, Hasso is an innocent figure whose strings are being pulled by the guilty Maylia. The chief factor in the film's success as an adventure
picture is the realistic documentary approach. With a hefty (for the time) $2 million budget no expenses were spared in achieving realism. The film also had the support of the U.S. Treasury Department whose head at the time, Harry J. Anslinger, even makes an appearance. Director Stevenson managed
to receive permission to film a session of the narcotics control commission at work at the United Nations council at Lake Success, New York, location of UN headquarters from 1946 to 1951. None of this could have been shown, however, had the Motion Picture Association not eased its rigid anti-drug
Production Code regulations, which prohibited any themes regarding narcotics.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: An engrossing, globetrotting semi-documentary on the evils of narcotics pushers, specifically those who try smuggling opium onto U.S. shores. Powell is a government man investigating a plot to spread the use of opium throughout the world. He finds his firs… (more)
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