Cast & Crew
With his tour of duty in Korea about to end, Lt. Dan Oliver stops in at Chen Koo's curio shop. Chen Koo asks Dan to take a jade dragon with him, promising that he will be paid generously for delivering it to his friend Kim Ho at the Jade Lotus curio shop in Los Angeles. Dan agrees, and upon arriving in Los Angeles, goes straight to the Oakleaf Detective Agency, which he operates with his old friend and fellow World War II veteran Phil Ramsey, unaware that he is being followed by two thugs, Manchu Murphy and Kingpin. Phil is at his girl friend Ginny O'Donnell's apartment when Dan calls to ask if they have received an important package that he sent them. Before Dan can explain, Manchu and Kingpin sneak up and kill him. They then rifle through Dan's suitcase but do not find what they are looking for. Phil and Ginny, who works in the police crime lab, rush over to the agency and discover Dan's body. While Ginny calls her colleague, Lt. "Mack" McLaughlin, a homicide detective, Phil finds a folder in Dan's suitcase containing an ad for the Jade Lotus curio shop in Chinatown. At the crime lab, Mack enters with Terry Newell, a singer who met Dan when she was entertaining the troops in Korea. Terry is eager to know if Dan had something for her in his bags, and invites Phil to visit her at the television station where she records a nightly program. They are joined by Maj. Clinton, who is representing the Army in the investigation of Dan's murder. Phil is offended by Clinton's suggestion that Dan was involved in something shady, and decides to investigate the crime himself. At the Jade Lotus curio shop, Manchu, who is dressed in Chinese garb, notes Phil's arrival suspiciously. Phil watches as the proprietor, Kim Ho, completes several furtive transactions involving small figurines of the Eight Immortals, symbols of the Taoist sect. Kim Ho tells Phil that the political turmoil in China has made it difficult to import art objects, so his agent in Korea sometimes engages American soldiers as couriers. He assures Phil that the pieces are not valuable enough to cause a murder. As soon as Phil leaves the shop, he is ambushed by Manchu and Kingpin and taken to a hotel room, where he is blindfolded and beaten by Judo expert Moto. After Manchu and Kingpin leave, Moto opens the door for an unseen female visitor, who knocks him out and unties Phil, leaving before he can remove the blindfold. Phil goes to see Terry at the television station and says he can tell by her perfume that she was the one who rescued him. Terry tells Phil that she is in trouble, and Phil convinces her to her to go with him to police headquarters after the broadcast. While she is waiting for her cue, however, she is stabbed to death by Manchu and Kingpin, who had sneaked into the studio. At the homicide office, Mack complains that Phil has been watching too many movies that glamorize private detectives and make it look as if they do all the police's work for them. Clinton comes in and requests information on Terry's death, arousing Phil's anger and suspicion. Meanwhile, Ginny has received a package from Dan containing the jade dragon. She wants to call the police, but Phil refuses and insists on returning to the Jade Lotus. After he leaves, Ginny goes to the police station, where Mack tells her that "Kim Ho" is actually the alias of a dangerous criminal. At the curio shop, Kim Ho offers to buy the jade dragon, but Phil demands a steep price. Kim Ho goes to find Manchu and Kingpin, and Phil hides in the cellar, where Moto catches him. While they are struggling, Clinton, who is in league with Kim Ho, appears and instructs Moto to kill Phil. Mack and Ginny arrive with the police in time to rescue Phil and arrest Kim Ho, Clinton and their accomplices. Later, it is revealed that the curio shop was a front for a smuggling ring that was bringing in uranium from the Orient by concealing it in the figurines. Mack admits that Phil did a good job of cracking the case.
Although the Variety review and other contemporary sources identify the character played by the actor/wrestler Mr. Moto as "Simo," in the film he is referred to only as "Moto." According to information contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the Breen Office objected to the story's implication that the jade dragon and Eight Immortals figurines were being used to smuggle opium. Lippert Productions was required to eliminate all references to drugs, and to insert a newspaper headline establishing that the substance being smuggled was uranium.