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Eight Americans on board a Transpacific Express flight all have secret reasons for leaving the States. When the airplane crashes during a storm over the Pacific Ocean and the flight officers are killed, the passengers land on a deserted island 1,500 miles from Shanghai. The only boat on the island belongs to Jim Taylor, a man with a secret past who resents the castaways' invasion of his solitude. Shortly after the crash, a radio news bulletin reveals the castaways' true identities and motivations: Doris Bailey is really Thelma Chase, an industrial heiress who abandoned a strike of 6,000 employees in her Detroit factories; Robert Malone, known in the underworld as "The Torpedo," is fleeing with $150,000 after the Mafia took out a contract on his life; Iris Compton is a gang moll whom the law is seeking as an informant; Harrison Brand and T. L. Honeyman are competing munitions salesmen who are lobbying Senator John P. Corey, another stranded passenger, for his support; Anne Wesson is a nurse who left her husband to work for the Red Cross; and middle-aged Mrs. Franklin Sydney is going to Shanghai to visit her son Thomas, who is supposedly in the army and from whom she hasn't heard in a year. Jim insists his visitors fend for themselves, but they convince him to allow his servant Ping to sail them to Shanghai in shifts. Determined to get off the island first, Brand and Honeyman attack and shoot Jim. While Anne tends Jim's wounds, he asks her to wait with him for three months until the boat returns. Brand and Honeyman then force Ping to take them on the boat alone, and as Jim and Malone fire at the departing boat, Mrs. Sydney is shot in the crossfire. Honeyman finds a newspaper clipping on the boat that says Jim is really a surgeon from Shanghai who was convicted of the murder of Thomas Sydney, a member of the Chinese underworld, and escaped from prison a year ago. Honeyman and Brand then plot to bring Jim in to the Shanghai authorities. On land, Mrs. Sydney dies unaware of her son's errant ways. Meanwhile, Thelma complains about doing more than her share of the work on the island and goes on strike. After Jim and Anne fall in love, he tells her that Thomas caused an innocent patient of his to commit suicide and that it was the woman's brother, not he, who killed him. When Ping's boat runs out of gas, the men attack him. During the scuffle, the mast falls. On land, Jim promises to stay with Anne forever. Malone and Iris begin to burn Malone's ill-gotten money out of love for each other, but a boat appears on the horizon so they save the cash, planning to marry in Hong Kong. Ping returns alone with the news that Brand and Honeyman fell overboard, then dies. Thelma learns sympathy for the proletariat, while the senator starts writing a book about his adventures. With three of the castaways dead, there is enough room in the boat for all to return to society. Anne convinces Jim he must face life, and they leave the island together.