powered by AFI
After a Japanese submarine blows up an American munitions ship, Washington-based Commander Charles Brennan sends a coded message that is deciphered by German spies. Meanwhile, at a party for Russian war relief, newsman Bill Gordon runs into his friend and fellow correspondent, Andre Leemuth. At the same party, Elaine Carter, a woman in whom Andre is interested, meets Bill and is attracted to him. Unknown to his friends, Andre is the recipient of Brennan's deciphered message and transmits its content to two doctors in San Diego, advising them to let the next ship go through unharmed to fool the Americans. The next day, Bill, who has just enlisted in the Navy, runs into Elaine as she is about to have lunch with Andre. Bill says he is shipping out so that she will kiss him goodbye, then they spend the day and evening together and fall in love. When she asks him to get a desk job in Washington, he reveals that while a bored reporter in the Far East, he used a pseudonym to write a book about codes and is now afraid that if the Navy finds out, he will spend the war at a desk job in Washington. The next day, he gets orders to report to John Carter, a special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, and is furious when he discovers that Elaine has told his secret to Carter, who is her uncle. He then begins to work for Brennan in a deciphering "factory" and becomes so enthusiastic that Elaine resents his dedication. He finally deciphers the Japanese message and learns that they have cracked America's codes. Knowing that it is too late to stop another Pacific ship, Brennan goes home and calls his girl friend, Olivia Kerlov, to tell her that he has lost a briefcase that contains a vitally important document. He then hails a taxi and gives a briefcase to the cabbie, telling him to take it to Olivia and say that he found it. Soon after, Brennan sneaks into his apartment, finds the case open and sees Olivia steaming open a letter. A few days later, after reporting to her German cohorts that she has killed Brennan, a weeping Olivia shows up at his funeral, arousing Bill's suspicions because no one knows who she is. Later, after Carter tells Bill that he is now in charge of the department, one of Bill's men picks up a circular for a beauty treatment that was sent to Olivia and Bill suspects that it is a code. Professor Harvey Lessmore of his department deduces that the ink and paper in the ad, not the words, are important and tells Bill that he must find the "re-agent" that will make the coded words visible. Speculating that the re-agent might be in Olivia's clothing, Bill has his men bring her in and calls for a matron to help her undress. The "matron" turns out to be Elaine, who is suspicious of Bill's intentions toward Olivia. While the professor is analyzing Olivia's clothes, Bill tells Elaine that he has discovered something important about the circular, pretending that he does not know that Olivia is within earshot. Olivia then goes to an orthodox church and leaves a message in a candle, which is subsequently picked up by Andre. Meanwhile, Elaine is so angry when Bill accepts a dinner date with Olivia, that she shows up at the same restaurant, escorted by Andre. She goes to Bill's table and tells him that Brennan received the same circular the day he died. Just then Bill is called to the phone to speak with Lessmore, who is about to reveal the re-agent when he is shot dead. Bill pretends that nothing has happened, not wanting to alert Olivia, who goes to the powder room and hears from Mrs. Savarina, another spy, that Andre is going to be "sacrificed" as the spy with the code book. Olivia returns to the table and "accidentally" drops Andre's watch in some water, inadvertently alerting Bill that Andre is carrying the "re-agent" in the band of his watch. After Andre goes home, Bill, accompanied by Carter, goes to his place, leaving Olivia and Elaine at the restaurant. They confront Andre and start to argue and Bill slugs him, then finds the code book hidden in a press book. Andre wakes up and shoots at Bill and Carter, but Bill again knocks him out and returns to the restaurant to escort Olivia home. Soon Elaine arrives and is unknowingly detained by Olivia's cohorts, who threaten to hurt Bill unless he sends a coded message for them. By doing so, Bill is able to secretly alert Carter, and, after he confesses his love to Elaine, they are rescued. Some time later, Bill boards a train as he is about to ship out. Once seated, he is startled by Elaine, who is wearing a naval uniform, then rushes off the train, saying that he is going to join the Army.