China Gate (1957)

china gate 1957

Written,Directed and Produced by Samuel Fuller. It takes place in North Vietnam in 1954 as the French are fighting the Communists. The story involves a band of mercenaries in the French Foreign Legion out to blow up an arms depot. They’ll need the help of a half caste Chinese woman to help them. She’s played by Angie Dickinson. To get some credibility there are numerous references about her not looking Chinese. Except for the lame title song sung by Nat “King” Cole it’s a good soundtrack from Victor Young and Max Steiner.

Communist troops are fighting for Ho Chi Minh. One village is still holding out despite daily bombings. Americans drop in food caches but it’s not enough.  Lucky Legs (Angie Dickinson) is a half Chinese woman who is a drunk and runs the village saloon. She has a five year old son.

Lucky has sold a lot of cognac to the soldiers so she knows her way around the mountain range known as China Gate. There are tunnels there that lead to a huge arsenal. A Colonel makes a deal with her. If she leads a band of mercenaries to the arsenal then she’ll get money and a new saloon. She’s all set until she sees the American explosives expert who will be going along. No deal. It’s Sgt.Brock (Gene Barry). He ran out on her in Saigon five years ago when he saw that their son was Chinese. When she’s promised that she and her son will be flown to America she agrees. The commander of the arsenal,Major Cham (Lee Van Cleef) is in love with her.

One member of the group is Goldie (Nat “King” Cole) who hates Communists. He and Brok divide up the primers for the explosives. On the way they run close to a Communists camp. Luck distracts them by delivering a case of cognac. Later they run into a path loaded with land mines. Lucky climbs into the guard tower where a friend of hers is on duty. He tells her where the mines are then Brock sneaks in and kills him.

It looks like bygones will be bygones about their son but he can’t get over his xenophobia so any reconciliation doesn’t last long.  A a five year old spots the group and tells a commander. The attack begins and Brock has to use half the explosives to take care of them.  Goldie steps on a spike. Luckily it’s not booby trapped. Brock bandages his foot and Goldie lets loose about how much he resents Brock’s attitude towards his own son and says when this is over he’ll take him back to America.

Now they’re outside the China Gate. Lucky goes in to see Major Cham. He tells her he’ll marry her and take she and her son  to Moscow. Then he shows her the arsenal.  She calls it a butcher shop. She gets back to the group and tells Brock where it is. Then she and Brock mend their fences for real.

You know with Fuller you’re in for a lot f action and from here on out you get it.

Nat "King" Cole and Gene Barry get ready for action

Nat “King” Cole and Gene Barry get ready for action

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About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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