|Soldier of Fortune|
|Directed by||Edward Dmytryk|
|Produced by||Buddy Adler|
|Written by||Ernest K. Gann|
|Based on||Soldier of Fortune|
by Ernest K. Gann
|Music by||Hugo Friedhofer|
|Edited by||Dorothy Spencer|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$2,750,000 (US rentals)|
Soldier of Fortune is a 1955 DeLuxe Color adventure film in CinemaScope about the rescue of an American prisoner in the People's Republic of China in the 1950s. It was directed by Edward Dmytryk, starred Clark Gable and Susan Hayward, and was written by Ernest K. Gann based on his 1954 novel.
Jane Hoyt (Susan Hayward) arrives in Hong Kong, looking for her husband, thrill-seeking photojournalist Louis (Gene Barry). She attracts the eye of shady shipping magnate Hank Lee (Clark Gable). With his help, she learns that Louis entered Communist China and was imprisoned as a suspected spy.
She decides to arrange his escape. Hank advises her to give up the foolhardy venture, but she refuses. She foolishly meets Fernand Rocha (Mel Welles) alone and gives him a $500 deposit to set up a rescue, but he merely gambles the money away and locks her up for his lecherous purposes. Word reaches Hank in time to save her.
Having fallen in love with Jane and realising that she will not let herself get involved with him while her husband's fate remains uncertain, Hank decides to rescue the man himself. Hong Kong Marine Police Inspector Merryweather (Michael Rennie) is inspecting Hank's junk when Hank decides to make his attempt, and gets shanghaied into helping rescue the husband who is being held in prison in Canton.
Louis is freed. Merryweather is forced to help Hank fight off a pursuing Chinese gunboat. When they return safely to Hong Kong, Louis graciously bows out of his wife's life.
- Clark Gable as Hank Lee
- Susan Hayward as Jane Hoyt
- Michael Rennie as Inspector Merryweather
- Gene Barry as Louis Hoyt
- Alexander D'Arcy as Rene Dupont Chevalier (as Alex D'Arcy)
- Tom Tully as Tweedie, owner of Tweedie's Bar
- Anna Sten as Madame Dupree
- Russell Collins as Icky, piano player
- Leo Gordon as Big Matt
- Richard Loo as General Po Lin, an impoverished exile who offers to guide Jane to Macao to see Rocha, but is taken off the ferry by the Communists
- Soo Yong as Dak Lai
- Frank Tang as Capt. Ying Fai
- Jack Kruschen as Austin Stoker, Lee's assistant
- Mel Welles as Fernand Rocha
The film was based on a novel by Ernest Gann published in October 1954. Gann had lived in Hong Kong in his youth working for a telephone company and always wanted to write a book set there. He moved there in 1953, hired a Chinese junk and researched and wrote the novel.
Gann's novel attracted the interest of film studios before it had been published. His novels Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty had just been filmed with John Wayne and Wayne became interested in purchasing the film rights. However, film rights went to 20th Century Fox, who had a deal with Clark Gable, and Gable asked them to buy the novel as a vehicle for him. Buddy Adler was assigned to produce, Edward Dmyrtryk to direct and Gann to write the script.
Susan Hayward signed to play the female lead after Grace Kelly bowed out. Hayward, however, was in the middle of a divorce and could not take her children to Hong Kong with her. She offered to pull out of the film. Instead, she was allowed to remain in Hollywood and shoot all her scenes on the studio backlot. To give the illusion of her presence in Hong Kong, a few brief outdoor scenes were shot at some of the city's landmarks, showing Gable together with a Hayward double whose back was to the camera. In one instance of this, Gable and the Hayward double were shown entering entering the doorway of a building in Hong Kong. In the next scene, Gable and Hayward were shown walking onto a Hollywood set that was supposed to be the building's interior.
The opening and closing credit scenes of the film, featuring Gable looking out at the harbor skyline, were staged on the Peak Tram.
The rest of the unit left for Hong Kong in November 1954 for five weeks of location filming. This was the first of four CinemaScope productions filmed by Adler’s units in Asia in the mid-fifties.
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