In 1943, at the height of Alan Ladd’s and Loretta Lynn’s Fame, Moviegoers were lining up to see this Movie at the local Movie House. Yes, Our grandparents or great-grandparents were. The WWII Crowd were.
And it’s a very interesting the way America thought of China back then. We hated Japan and loved China. China even helped pick-up the Jimmy Doolittle Raid Survivors after America Fire Bombed Japan as a way to let the Japanese know that we could touch them too after Pearl Harbor.
And look at things Today. It’s strange how our Occupation of Japan after WWII turned into a love affair. And Covid has America and the World asking tough Questions about Covid-19’s Origination. Where this will stop may be a very bad way. Hopefully not.
But this Movie is a very interesting Movie to watch. And the date of its Release is Important too.
In 1941, in China, Captain Tao-Yuan-Kai would like to execute David Jones (Alan Ladd) for selling oil to the Japanese, but can do nothing because he is American. Japanese aircraft bomb the town, so Jones drives toward Shanghai with his partner, Johnny Sparrow (William Bendix), who has acquired a newly orphaned baby boy.
After nightfall, they are forced to stop because Chinese refugees crowd the road. The Chinese beat the Americans and start to take their truck, until Carolyn Grant (Loretta Young), an American schoolteacher born in China, tells them to stop. Carolyn sneaks her group of female college students into the back of Jones’s truck. As she grew up there and knows the terrain, Carolyn takes over the driving for a while, and has her friend, Lin Wei, sit on the hood to watch for potholes.
When Jones realizes that Carolyn has loaded his truck with refugees, he starts throwing them out (worried he will not have enough gas to get to Shanghai), but relents when he learns that they are Carolyn’s students, all young women.
The next day, they encounter Lin Wei’s first and second brothers, Lin Cho and Lin Yun, who have formed a guerrilla band and are posing as peasants. Lin Cho warns them to take an alternate road as the Japanese are approaching. Jones reluctantly drives to the family farm of Tan Ying, a girl he tried to throw off the truck, as “Donald Duck” (the baby) needs milk.
At the farm, Carolyn tries again to persuade Jones to take the students to Chungtu, where they can continue their studies, rather than Japanese-occupied Shanghai, but Jones refuses. After Johnny leaves the baby with Tan Ying’s family for safekeeping, the journey resumes. They are forced to abandon the truck when Japanese aircraft strafe the road, but Lin Cho and his compatriots shoot the airplane down.
When Carolyn discovers that Tan Ying has slipped off the bus to rejoin her family, she insists on returning for her. While the rest of the group hikes to a monastery, Jones and Carolyn drive back to the farm and are shocked to find that the Japanese have burned the farm, and murdered Tan Ying’s parents and Donald Duck. Jones then finds three Japanese soldiers raping Tan Ying, and shoots them without hesitation, while Carolyn comforts the hysterical woman. After the group takes refuge in the monastery, Tan Ying dies.
Finally cognizant of the nature of the Chinese struggle, Jones is now inspired to join the fight against the Japanese, and offers his help to the three brothers. They determine that they must close a mountain pass in order to prevent the further onslaught of the Japanese, but only the Japanese army has the necessary dynamite. That night, Jones, Johnny, Lin Wei, Lin Cho and Lin Yun swim across a river to raid a Japanese encampment and steal the dynamite. When their presence is detected, a fierce gun battle ensues, during which Lin Wei, and all but two other guerrillas, are killed. Before he dies, Lin Wei honors Jones by calling him his “fourth brother.”
That night, Carolyn rejects Johnny’s marriage proposal because she is in love with Jones, and later, the new lovers Jones and Carolyn spend a final night together. The next day, the small band of fighters places the dynamite along the mountain pass road.
When the Japanese convoy appears early, Jones stops them on the road to give the guerrillas time to lay the dynamite, and pretends that he is stranded. The Japanese general explains to Jones that Japan has just bombed Pearl Harbor in the United States, and that their intention is to create a new world order. After the general’s second-in-command shoots Jones, the Chinese set off the dynamite causing an avalanche that buries the Japanese troops, and closes the road. Carolyn and Johnny mourn the loss of their friend as they drive the students to Chungtu.
China (aka The Fourth Brother) is a 1943 film directed by John Farrow. It stars Loretta Young and Alan Ladd. David Jones, one of the main characters wearing a fedora, a brown jacket, and khakis, was an inspiration for Indiana Jones.
|Directed by||John Farrow|
|Produced by||Richard Blumenthal|
|Written by||Frank Butler|
|Based on||unproduced play “The Fourth Brother” by Archibald Forbes|
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Edited by||Eda Warren|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date||April 21, 1943|
|Running time||79 mins.|
|Budget||$2 million (est.)|
|Box office||$2.5 million (US rentals)|
1,774,843 admissions (France)