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Narcotics Commissioner Michael Barrows (Dick Powell) witnesses a Japanese sea captain throwing 100 slaves overboard to cover up a narcotics ring. Barrows is determined to get justice and sets out on a globe trotting adventure to break the ring and capture the murderous captain.
Original Air Date: May 23, 1949
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They say that radio is better than movies “because the pictures are better”.
This is one case where the opposite is true. When the slaves go overboard
in the Lux production, sailors are described as shoving them off the deck. In
the film snippet, the captain releases the special anchor and the whole lot of
them are dragged after it, like falling dominos.
I spent last weekend avoiding 9/11 footage. I’ve become inured to the
collapsing towers, and the panicky crowds running to outrace the smoke cloud,
like some horrible marathon, but the sight of the leapers still fills me with dread.
The image of the slaves going over stuck with me all week. This was the
real method that african slavers used after importation was banned in 1807.
They were still smuggled into Charleston, but if the captain saw a revenue cutter advancing, he’d cut the anchor cable and send his human cargo to
the ocean floor.
That said, this was a great story, horrifyingly told, but not exploitatively,
a worthy choice for your five-hundredth episode. Well done, GDoOTR!
The script really brought out the world-wide scale of drug production and
distribution, without the hollywood tendency to include exotic locations
just for novelty’s sake, like in the later James Bond movies. The maguffin
of having the little chinese girl (with the thick California accent) being Mr. Big
was ridiculous, but you learn to ignore trivial things like that in Hollywood
productions and concentrate on the details. Again, this may have worked better in the film, with an oriental face to match the americanized voice. Hollywood can analyze important world issues, provided there are
attractive caucasians in the lead roles to interest the audience and that
they marry in the last reel.
Harry Anslinger, mentioned repeatedly as Dick Powell’s boss, really was
the head of the Narcotics Bureau, so this production must have been
made with the support of the US government. Anslinger, to listen to
the history as re-written by the Hemp lobby, comes across as something
of a clownish figure. I’ll need to study him some more, take him a bit