Soldier of Fortune (1955 film)

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.

Soldier of Fortune
DVD cover
Directed byEdward Dmytryk
Produced byBuddy Adler
Written byErnest K. Gann
Based onSoldier of Fortune
1954 novel
by Ernest K. Gann
StarringClark Gable
Susan Hayward
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyLeo Tover
Edited byDorothy Spencer
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 24, 1955 (1955-05-24)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2,515,000[1]
Box office$2,750,000 (US rentals)[2]

Plot

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.

Cast

Production

The film was based on a novel by Ernest Gann. 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.[3]

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.[4]>[5] 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.[6] Buddy Adler was assigned to produce, Edward Dmyrtryk to direct and Gann to write the script.[7]

The novel was published in October 1954.[8]

Susan Hayward signed to play the female lead. The film was set mostly in Hong Kong and was filmed on location there, but Hayward could not take her children there because she was in the middle of a divorce. She offered to pull out of the film. Instead the film was rewritten and scenes featuring her were filmed in Hollywood. In a few brief outdoor scenes shot at Hong Kong landmarks, a Hayward double with her back to the camera was shown with Gable.[9]

David Niven was going to play the police inspector, but then decided he did not want to go to Hong Kong, so the role was taken by Michael Rennie.[10]

The rest of the unit left for Hong Kong in November 1954 for five weeks of location filming.[11][12]

See also

References

  1. Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p249
  2. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  3. C. Smith (October 3, 1954). "Ex-pilot now steers pen on film scripts". Los Angeles Times.
  4. E. Schallert (1954). "Drama". Los Angeles Times.
  5. Thomas M. Pryor (January 2, 1954). "Old West Drama Acquired By U.-I". The New York Times.
  6. Louella Parsons (June 18, 1954). "Gable gets to embrace grace". The Washington Post and Times Herald.
  7. P. K. Scheuer (August 1, 1954). "Producer yet to book own film". Los Angeles Times.
  8. R. Blakesley (October 10, 1954). "Adventure, intrigue in jittery Hong Kong". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 178779417.
  9. "'Reap the Wild Wind' returns to screens". Los Angeles Times. November 5, 1954. ProQuest 166697839.
  10. Thomas M. Pryor (November 6, 1954). "'Giant' Lead Role Given To Hudson". The New York Times.
  11. "Clark Gable takes role of greeter on airliner". Los Angeles Times. November 12, 1954. ProQuest 166700468.
  12. "Gable — Soldier of Fortune". The World's News (2793). New South Wales, Australia. July 2, 1955. p. 12. Retrieved April 22, 2018 via National Library of Australia.
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