1 January 2010 | VanheesBenoit
The fifth column in the newspaper
Helen Warner, a famous US newspaperwoman is send by her boss to Shanghai. Gangsters -angry about her exposing them in front page articles- have threatened the newspaper. So her boss thinks she deserves a break, a holiday far away, and expenses paid. Little did he know she would stumble across yet another scoop and
Traveling by boat took quite some time in those days, and all sorts of people took the opportunity to get acquainted. Remember Bogart meeting Mary Astor in "Across the Pacific". Helen too meets her love interest-to-be, in the shape of Jed Howard, a somewhat noisy but sympathetic war reporter. During the same trip, a strange incident takes place: an intruder was waited in Helen's cabin, and insisted in getting the film from her camera. He explained he was upset about being recognizable on some of her pictures. Somewhat irritated but also rather puzzled, Helen hands over the film.
When Helen and Jed arrive in Shangai,they hear about the Japanese invasion of the north of China. Jed decides to go there with his Chinese cameraman. Helen -who hasn't told Jed she's a famous reporter too- decides to drop her holiday. She gets in contact with the local antenna of her newspaper. Soon she finds out that quite strange things are happening in that office. To begin with, the man who took her film on board of the ocean liner pops up here of all places. Although he denies having left the country recently, she identifies him via a scar. Helen also quickly has complaints about the strangely unprofessional and clumsy behavior of her local boss. But there is something bigger going on... Jed's cameraman is murdered in the street. Soon, it becomes clear that a fifth column is very active in providing valuable military information to the invaders. (Although it's never clearly said they are working for Germany –the movie is from 1939-a decoration behind the main plotters throws a strange shadow, in which something that looks like a swastika can be identified)
No impressive action scenes, no dialogs which are nice little verbal ping pong games, and the baddies don't have the charisma of let's say Sydney Greenstreet or Peter Lorre. A nice little B-spy movie though, not particularly brilliant but still quite enjoyable. Rather something for completists. 7.5/10