Manila Calling


1h 21m 1942

Brief Synopsis

When the Japanese capture the principal radio station of the American Radio Communications Company in the Philippines, the staff manages to escape into the jungle, tie up with a band of Filipino Scouts (Moros) and make their way to the coast. The party, radio technician Jeff Bailey (Cornel Wilde) and communications men Lucky Matthews (Lloyd Nolan) and Tom O'Rourke (James Gleason), finds an advance Japanese unit on the plantation of an old friend and, working with the Moros as a guerilla unit, attack and seize the site from the Japanese in order to use the radio transmitter. Solidifying themselves in the stronghold they discover there is no food or water and it is surrounded by the Japanese. A night club singer, Edna Fraser (Carole Landis), escaping from the Japanese, gets into the plantation. Jeff is working to fix their radio set, hoping to send a message of hope and courage to the conquered and enslaved Filipinos of the district, and the Japanese, aware of this possibility, are using every means to wipe out the group.

Film Details

Also Known As
Calling Manila
Release Date
Oct 16, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,259ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

Tom Logan is the leader of the Philippine American Radio Communications Company, a group of allied radio engineers turned guerrilla fighters. They become trapped on the island of Mindanao as they attempt to fight the Japanese and destroy radio stations broadcasting Japanese propaganda. Making a brave push, the small band captures a former plantation that had fallen to the Japanese and been used as a shortwave broadcasting base. Logan is killed, leaving the idealistic Jeff Bailey in charge. The de facto leader is Lucky Matthews, an embittered, misogynistic engineer who has been fighting for various causes for years with his Irish pal, Tim O'Rourke. Although Lucky wants to use the captured machine guns to blast their way to the coast and possible rescue, Jeff insists that they hold the plantation and repair the generator in order to broadcast their own propaganda. After the Japanese blow up the local water supply, the guerrillas are surprised by the arrival of Wayne Ralston, a nearby plantation owner seeking shelter. With him is Edna "Eddie" Fraser, a former dancer now stuck in the Philippines and willing to marry the rich Ralston in order to forget her hard life. Lucky is irritated by the appearance of the civilians, especially Eddie, but becomes distracted when Watson, one of his men, is shot by a sniper. While Eddie tends to Watson, Ralston's selfishness become apparent as he complains about the dying man receiving a share of their decreasing water supply. Soon after, the Japanese send a warning in the form of two mutilated Moro soldiers, and once again, Eddie acts as nurse while Ralston raves about leaving. That night, when guerrilla Fillmore sneaks down the hill to get water from a well, Lucky is forced to go after him. Snipers shoot at them, but O'Rourke draws their fire, thereby saving their lives at the cost of his own. When they reach camp, Fillmore collapses, for the water was poisoned, and as O'Rourke dies, he tells Eddie to stick by Lucky even though he may treat her badly because he was once betrayed by a woman. Jeff and Gilman, a gentle member of the group, finish repairing the generator, but Ralston attempts to blow it up so that there will be no reason to remain. Corbett catches Ralston setting the dynamite and is stabbed to death by him. When Lucky and Jeff discover Ralston's act, Jeff orders Lucky to execute him. The Japanese then attack the plantation house, and Gillman is killed, and Jeff is wounded. Jeff tells Lucky that the generator is still working, and Lucky, finally convinced that Jeff is right, agrees to do the broadcasting. Before he begins, he and Santoro, a former pilot, load Jeff onto a captured Japanese plane, which Santoro has repaired and will use to fly Jeff to safety. Lucky insists that Eddie go along, but after she forces him to admit that he loves her, she returns to the house, where she tells him that everything she wants is there. As Japanese bombs fall around them, killing Heller and Armando, the last remaining members of the group, Eddie embraces Lucky and he begins the shortwave radio broadcast. He tells the Filipino and American listeners not to give up hope, to work together and remember that until MacArthur returns, the guerrillas will continue fighting. Eddie then holds Lucky tighter as he continues to broadcast and the bombing grows heavier.

Film Details

Also Known As
Calling Manila
Release Date
Oct 16, 1942
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,259ft (8 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Calling Manila. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, the picture was originally to be directed by Irving Pichel and was to star Pat O'Brien and Dana Andrews. A February 6, 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Pichel was going to "speed sequences in Manila Calling, involving Japanese extras, in an effort to complete them before all Japanese are barred from defense areas." [No Japanese surnames are listed on the CBCS, however.] Although the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, located at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, contains a story outline and screenplay for the film written by Samuel G. Engel, the exent of his contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. The scripts collection also reveals that in late February 1942, Preston Foster was being considered for the role of "Lucky Matthews." Studio publicity in June 1942 reported that George Holmes was assigned to play "an important featured role," and that Martin Kosleck took over the part of "Heller" from Anthony Quinn, who had been moved to the cast of The Ox-Bow Incident (see below). An official billing sheet released by the studio, however, notes that Quinn was replaced by Harold Huber, who plays "Santoro." Hollywood Reporter production charts include George Zucco in the cast, but neither he nor Holmes appears in the finished film. Although James Gleason's character is listed as "Tom O'Rourke" in contemporary reviews, he is called "Tim O'Rourke" in the film.