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The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbour & the Americans have
entered World War II, but the war is also fought at the home front, where
Fifth Columnists sabotage the arms industry ... but the worst yet is that
a group of Fifth Columnists have infiltrated the industry itself, &,
sitting in key positions, they seriously undermine America's war efforts.
rogue businessmen - Courney (Max Hoffman jr), Wallace (Robert Fiske), Van
Dyke (Irving Mitchell), Ryder (Edward Peil sr) & Hanlin (Robert
Frazer) - regularly meet at co-conspirator Doc Saunders' (George Pembroke)
place for dinnerparties ... but at one such dinnerparty, a mysterious
stranger, Colomb (Bela Lugosi) shows up, hypnotizes Doc Saunders into
submission & has him send the others away ...
Heading home, Courney
suddenly finds Colomb sharing his taxi, & Colomb soon enough kills him
& drapes his dead body on the stairs of the (closed for the time of
the war) Japanese embassy ...
The police are baffled, & the only
lead they have is Doc Saunders dinnerparty, but when detective Dick Martin
(Clayton Moore) comes to investigate, he finds Doc Saunders locked away in
his room, Colomb having pretty much taken over control of the household
& the only friendly face it seems is that of Saunders' niece Alice
(Joan Barclay), who seems to know nothing though as she herself did arrive
only a few hours ago.
Soon other attendees of the dinner party -
Wallace, Van Dyke & Ryder - die too, so the police has one of these
typical B-movie plans to catch the murderer ... they persuade Hanlin to
act as bait for the killer, to lure him out into the open - & the plan
works beautifully, with the one minor fault that Colomb can be shot down
only after he has killed Hanlin. With Colomb dead, the hypnotic grip over
Saunders breaks, & Saunders confesses everything ... He & his (now
dead) comrades are actually Japanese spies from the order of the Black
Dragon whom Colomb has performed plastic surgery on so they could
substitute American key businessmen the order has captured & killed to
sabotage American war efforts.
The plan worked beautifully, but then the
order tried to kill Colomb ... but he got away, & now he has come
after them to take revenge ... & quite successfully too, as 5 of the 6
Black Dragons are dead, & Saunders he has given plastic surgery so now
he has the face of a monster ...
After the bombing of Pearl
Harbour, producer Sam Katzman was hell-bent on making the first movie to
exploit the evils of the Japanese & Fifth Columnists alike ... &
he succeeded, succeeded in being the first, at least. The movie however is
a rather poor affair, an uneven mix of old dark house mobtives, war
propaganda, whodunnit mainstays, & a touch of horror thrown in, just
for good measure. This directionless blend naturally doesn't help
delivering a straight story, nor does poor storytelling.
performance however is spotless (as usual), noone else could/can say
pointless phrases like "I might be detained for quite a while"
with the same kind of menace.