When her photographer husband Barry is missing in the Far East Hayward goes to Hong Kong in search of him. She gets no help from either American or British authorities but she remains undaunted. After checking into a somewhat seedy hotel, populated by various rogues from different lands,
Hayward contacts Rennie, a local police captain. His hands are tied by department regulations but he attempts to do some work on his own time to help her. After Hayward identifies two cameras found by authorities as possessions of Barry's, Rennie suggests she go to a local hangout for some help.
There she meets D'Arcy, who manages to keep her from being tossed out. He claims to have known Barry, telling Hayward that her husband hung out with Welles and Fong. Though the information is paltry, Hayward looks up Fong, who takes her to Gable, an American soldier of fortune. He runs a smuggling
operation out of Communist China and is immediately taken with Hayward, whom he offers to help if it means he can get anywhere with her. Hayward is put off by his obvious attempts at seduction but eventually agrees to let him help. After a drunken celebration Gable forces Tully, the local bar's
owner, into finding out where Barry is. It's learned Barry is in Canton and Gable prepares to take his boat for a rescue try. However, Rennie is waiting on board and Gable is forced to take him hostage. Gable's crew deserts before the ship reaches the Communist shores and Rennie then realizes that
this is not just another smuggling run. He offers assistance and Barry is eventually rescued. They are chased, but Gable eludes the pursuers by sailing his boat into a bay full of hundreds of fishing junks. Barry and Hayward are reunited but the photographer realizes that his life will always be a
haphazard one full of wanderings. He persuades his wife to go with Gable, who truly loves her and is willing to give up his dangerous life for her.
Though just a potboiler drama, SOLDIER OF FORTUNE is an entertaining little adventure that makes good use of the Hong Kong setting. Gable was a little too old for the part but he still has some fun with his rugged he-man characterization. Everyone involved with the production understood that this
was a quickie production but that didn't prevent them from making it entertaining. Ironically directed by Dmytryck, one of the Hollywood Ten blacklisted in the 50s for alleged ties to communism, the film waltzes around the sensitive issue of communism by never actually specifying that Barry must
be rescued out of Red China. Dymtryk was very impressed with the organizational abilities of the Hong Kong locals in helping shoot the film. In order to shoot the escape sequence in the harbor, he had to count on the help of numerous fishermen, all cooperating against various elements such as wind
changes and camera setups. The shooting was a success, he recalled in his autobiography, It's a Hell of a Life but Not a Bad Living, thanks to the skilled extras. "I have worked in almost every country of the so-called technically superior Western world, but I have never seen planning,
organization, or execution anywhere near that shown by this group of fishermen, lightermen, and smugglers," he wrote. Hayward, because of legal difficulties connected with her bitter divorce from Jess Barker the year before, was not allowed to bring her children to Hong Kong. She chose not to go
along on the location shooting and in an act of generosity by the studio (undoubtedly fueled by Hayward's box office appeal) the script was rewritten to accommodate her. Her scenes were all shot in the studio and the mockup Hong Kong was indistinguishable from the real thing. Gable had originally
wanted Grace Kelly as a costar and didn't even know who Hayward was, though she had been one of many who tried unsuccessfully to be Gable's costar in GONE WITH THE WIND.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: When her photographer husband Barry is missing in the Far East Hayward goes to Hong Kong in search of him. She gets no help from either American or British authorities but she remains undaunted. After checking into a somewhat seedy hotel, populated by vari… (more)