powered by AFI
Before the entrance of the United States into World War II, the two Axis powers of Italy and Germany send undercover spies, Signor Scaletti and Franz von Bushmaster, to Hollywood to prevent the release of the film The Earth's on Fire , because it contains Allied propaganda. At Hollywood's Bengal Studios, tyrannical studio chief Duncan DeGrasse orders his publicity man, Joe Bemis, to hire two actors from central casting to play the part of spies and to send threatening notes to the actors to get publicity. Scaletti and von Bushmaster are unwittingly hired for the job, and they immediately set to work terrifying the cast of The Earth's on Fire by sending genuine threats, dropping sandbags and, finally, engineering explosions in the film vaults. When the film is completed, the entire production crew arrives at Union Station for a trip to Washington, D.C. for the film's world premiere. Although the railroad agents refuse to allow the crew to continue the trip because of the reported threats, DeGrasse outwits them by getting his top producer, Gregory Martin, to purchase the train. While en route jealousies arise when film star Kitty Carr finds her lover, Mark Saunders, seducing the studio's ingenue, Lee Morrison, who is secretly married to Bemis. Von Bushmaster and Scaletti are also onboard trying to figure out how to destroy the film, since their previous attempts were unsuccessful, but the film is being stored in the cage of the studio mascot, a bengal tiger. With the assistance of field marshal Muller, who has been sent to supervise the spies, they succeed in throwing the film from the train. At the premiere, it takes some time before DeGrasse and the crew realize that the film on the screen is not their film, but a German propaganda film called The Land von Peace und Beauty . Their real film arrives shortly thereafter, for, unknown to the spies, they tossed the cans into another passing train, and the film was forwarded by mail to Washington. As a last desperate attempt to prevent the screening, Muller traps von Bushmaster and Scaletti in a storeroom with a bomb, but the device simply falls apart and The Earth's on Fire is finally shown to thunderous applause.