Hong Kong (1952)
According to our leading man Ronald Reagan’s voice over at the start of this Lewis R. Foster directed production, Hong Kong is “Where everybody’s running away from something. Including me.”
Reagan’s narration states he’s been in Hong Kong for three years following the war and he’ll kick start a flashback to get our plot going that involves a golden statuette, nefarious antiques dealers and a knock out beauty queen played by Rhonda Fleming. And if I didn’t already know that it was Charlton Heston’s get up in Secret of the Incas that inspired the Indiana Jones look, I might think it was Rompin’ Ronnie’s here in Hong Kong.
Our flashback begins with Reagan coming across a four year old orphaned boy just as “the reds” are invading the territory that the eventual U.S. President has been hiking through. With the little fellow in tow Reagan finds a mission run by arguably the most beautiful woman on the planet circa 1952, Miss Fleming, in technicolor no less! Reagan’s street smart and always looking out for number one but Rhonda has him worried what might happen if the “commies” get ahold of her. He even throws a baseball term at her which leads to this flirtatious exchange ….
Rhonda : ‘I used to pitch for the mission’s team.”
Reagan : “Bet you’ve got a pretty good curve at that.”
Of course he was looking her up and down as he uttered that line.
Rhonda had anticipated the coming onslaught and has chartered a plane to take her, the poor and sick to safety. Reagan and the little guy tag along and it’s while on the plane that he finds a golden, jewel encrusted statuette in the boys backpack. The wheels begin spinning and Rhonda can already guess what Reagan’s me-first adventurer is plotting.
Upon arriving in Hong Kong, Reagan is going to use his street smarts to get them a room under false identities at a swank hotel. With no vacancies to be found it’s the only way he can find a place for the three of them to get some sleep and a hot bath. You see, Reagan is supposedly going to help the little fellow to find a guardian and Rhonda, she just wants to make sure that’s exactly what Ronnie is up to.
Ron hits the streets to hook up with Marvin Miller, an underground antiques dealer who is familiar with the golden statuette and would be willing to pay Reagan 100K for the prize. Just the kind of money to get Mr. President on a ship back to North America and easy street. Now that he’s got Rhonda believing him, all he has to do is lose the kid on the streets of Hong Kong.
There’s your flashback which brings us to the present where the film opened with Reagan narrating. His conscience and a certain redhead are getting to him and that’s sure to trigger a turn of events. Once he goes back on his deal with Miller his life and Rhonda’s is in danger. Miller isn’t to be trusted and has an army of cutthroats at his disposal who will kill for both money and the statue.
Let’s just say that Reagan is going to prove himself a man of action over the final half hour of the film’s 94 minute running time.
If Rhonda Fleming wasn’t making movies with John Payne ( Crosswinds, Eagle and the Hawk, Slightly Scarlet) she seemed to be making them alongside Ronald Reagan in the 1950’s. They’d appear here in Hong Kong as well as The Last Outpost and Tropic Zone. She even starred opposite both Payne and Reagan in the western, Tennessee’s Partner in 1955. No doubt she added beauty to her films, especially those in color but she was also a good actress appearing opposite many of the action heroes of the 1950’s including Stewart Granger, Jeff Chandler and Bob Hope. Hope? Scratch that and add in Burt Lancaster’s name on that line.
In fairness to Bob, she did costar with him in the comedy western Alias Jesse James and another laugher, The Great Lover.
Names to toss about here in Hong Kong come easy if you’ve watched Charlie Chan films all your life. Both Number 1 and Number 2 sons turn up here in unbilled bit parts. Keye Luke, aka Number 1 Son, drops in as a cab driver and Victor Sen Yung, aka Number 2 Son, plays an airport security worker. Another gentleman I spotted was Kam Tong who you may know as Hey Boy on the Have Gun Will Travel series.
If it isn’t Charlie Chan characters on the streets of Hong Kong it’s none other than Dr. Watson that Reagan claimed to be in order to get a room for the night. I’m referring to Nigel Bruce who brings along his Dr. Watson schtick for this enlarged cameo playing somewhat of a befuddled wealthy Englishman travelling abroad with an equally dimwitted wife (Mary Sommerville).
Hong Kong (aka Bombs Over China) proved to be an easy going adventure from a time past and one that got me thinking about the trio of films Reagan made opposite Fleming minus Tennessee’s Partner. All three of which were in fact directed by Foster. They’d look good restored and released to blu ray by a company that cares. I’m referring to Kino Lorber Studio Classics. I think these three films would fit quite nicely with the work they’ve been doing on countless films from yesteryear.
No idea where to direct you to find a copy of this one. Mine was gifted to me a few years ago from a fellow blogger pal.