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After smuggling Jewish refugees into pre-Israel Palestine, a freighter captain becomes embroiled in the conflict.
In late Dec 1947, American sea captain Mike Francis Dillon steers his boat toward the Palestinian shoreline, where he is to unload a group of illegal Jewish immigrants. To ensure that the immigrants' leader, Israeli David Vogel, pays the $8,000 owed to him, the cynical Mike insists on going on shore with David and the others. Once all of the immigrants have safely disembarked on the deserted beach and boarded waiting trucks, David pays Mike, then asks him to make additional trips. Mike declines, reminding David that he agreed to the blockade run only because he had lost his scheduled cargo in Italy. Just as Mike and his boatswain are about to return to their vessel, a British patrol boat approaches. Mike, his boatswain, David and Jerry McCarthy, an Irishman fighting with the Jews, hide among some reeds, but are soon discovered by the British troops. The boatswain is shot while fleeing, but the others make it to a truck. Later, David, Jerry and Mike join the immigrants in a Jewish settlement and are warmly greeted by Kurta, the leader of the Jewish defense group Haganah, and Sabra, a Polish immigrant known for her illicit, pro-Israeli radio broadcasts. Kurta advises Mike not to attempt to return to his ship for three days, and Sabra and David warn him not to use their transmitter to contact his boat, as the British monitor every broadcast and will deduce the immigrants' location. Worried that the British will confiscate his property and rescind his license if his boat is caught in illegal waters, Mike nevertheless sends a warning to his crew. As predicted, the English eavesdrop on the transmission and send troops to the settlement. During the scramble to flee the village, Sabra inadvertently is left behind, and when Capt. Beaumont recognizes her voice, she is arrested. Beaumont then orders Lt. Ellerton to track down the immigrants, who are now camped out in a remote area. There, David, who is in love with Sabra, rails against Mike for selfishly endangering her, but Kurta volunteers to take Mike to Beirut on condition that he run one more group of illegal immigrants to Palestine. After Mike agrees to Kurta's deal, Ellerton and his men surround the camp. Not wanting to be identified, Kurta tosses his distinctive Haganah pin into the campfire, but the pin is found and he, Mike, Jerry and the immigrants are captured. At British headquarters, meanwhile, Beaumont uses a recording device to trick Sabra into implicating herself as the "Voice of Israel" in front of Major Stephens and Col. Bruce Evans. Evans then allows Major Sorrell to take Sabra to British headquarters in Jerusalem, unaware that Sorrell is actually an Israeli using his World War II British Army uniform as a disguise. Spotting the British convoy carrying the immigrants, Sorrell tries to fool Ellerton into releasing Kurta, Jerry and Mike. Ellerton senses trouble, but before he can act, Sorrell quietly takes him hostage and flees with him to an Israeli outpost, where David and Sabra are hiding. David finds a calling card from fortune-teller "Ahmed the Great" in Ellerton's wallet and surmises that Ellerton hired the Arab to entertain British troops at headquarters during that night's Christmas Eve celebration. On the road outside Jerusalem, David and some other rebels, dressed as Arabs, intercept Ahmed's truck and steal his headquarters pass. At headquarters, meanwhile, Evans and Stephens, who know from the Haganah pin that Kurta is one of the prisoners, drill Mike, hoping he will identify the rebel leader. At first, Mike resists, but when the officers offer to free him in exchange for identifying Kurta, he agrees. As the colonel is leading Mike to the prisoners' compound, however, he shows him the Judas tree that his troops have decorated for Christmas, and Mike suddenly realizes what he has become. Mike does not identify Kurta, and soon after, David and a group of armed rebels enter headquarters and launch an attack. During the battle, Jerry is killed and Kurta is wounded. After Kurta entrusts David to take Mike to Beirut, David and Mike escape headquarters and drive off with Sabra in a waiting truck. Outside Bethlehem, the truck runs out of gas, and the three fugitives hide when British troops led by Beaumont stop to hunt for them. As his men search, Beaumont contemplates the ringing bells of Bethlehem, noting that "this is where our fate began." After the troops leave, David says a heartfelt goodbye to Sabra, then slips into the night with Mike, who vows, "I'll be back."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 24 Aug 1949; Los Angeles opening: 28 Sep 1949|
|Release Date:||1949||Production Date:||
AFI; LC; Univ 16mm
FEB 1759-69; P01601,C39
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Universal Pictures Company, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.|
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