Soldier of Fortune (1955 film)

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Soldier of Fortune
Soldier of Fortune (1955 film) (DVD box art).jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Produced by Buddy Adler
Written by Ernest K. Gann
Based on novel by Ernest K. Gann
Starring Clark Gable
Susan Hayward
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • May 24, 1955 (1955-05-24)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,515,000[1]
Box office $2,750,000 (US rentals)[2]

Soldier of Fortune is a 1955 adventure film about the rescue of an American prisoner in the People's Republic of China in the 1950s. It was directed by Edward Dmytryk, starred Clark Gable and Susan Hayward, and was written by Ernest K. Gann based on his 1954 novel.


Jane Hoyt arrives in Hong Kong, looking for her husband, thrill-seeking photojournalist Louis. She attracts the eye of shady shipping magnate Hank Lee. With his help, she learns that Louis entered Communist China and was imprisoned as a suspected spy.

She decides to arrange his escape. Hank advises her to give up the foolhardy venture, but she refuses. She foolishly meets Fernand Rocha alone and gives him a $500 deposit to set up a rescue, but he merely gambles the money away and locks her up for his lecherous purposes. Word reaches Hank in time to save her.

Having fallen in love with Jane and realising that she will not let herself get involved with him while her husband's fate remains uncertain, Hank decides to rescue the man himself. Hong Kong Marine Police Inspector Merryweather is inspecting Hank's junk when Hank decides to make his attempt, and gets shanghaied into helping rescue the husband who is being held in prison in Canton.

Louis is freed. Merryweather is forced to help Hank fight off a Chinese gunboat sent in pursuit. When they return safely to Hong Kong, Louis graciously bows out of his wife's life.



The film was based on a novel by Ernest Gann. Gann had lived in Hong Kong in his youth working for a telephone company and always wanted to write a book set there. He moved there in 1953, hired a Chinese junk and research and wrote the novel.[3]

Gann's novel attracted the interest of film studios before it had been published. His novels Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty had just been filmed with John Wayne and Wayne interested in purchasing the film rights.[4][5] However, film rights went to 20th Century Fox, who had a deal with Clark Gable and Gable asked them to buy the novel as a vehicle for him.[6] Buddy Adler was assigned to produce, Edward Dmyrtryk to direct and Gann to write the script.[7]

The novel was published in October 1954.[8]

Susan Hayward signed to play the female lead. The film was set mostly in Hong Kong and was filmed on location there, but Hayward could not take her children there because she was in the middle of a divorce. She offered to pull out of the film. Instead the film was rewritten so scenes featuring her were filmed in Hollywood.[citation needed] In a few brief outdoor scenes shot at Hong Kong landmarks, a Hayward double with her back to the camera was shown with Gable.[9]

David Niven was going to play the police inspector but then decided he did not want to go to Hong Kong so the role was taken by Michael Rennie.[10]

The rest of the unit left for Hong Kong in November 1954 for five weeks of location filming.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p249
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  3. ^ Smith, C. (1954, Oct 03). Ex-pilot now steers pen on film scripts. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. ^ Schallert, E. (1954, ). Drama. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  5. ^ By THOMAS M PRYORSpecial to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1954, Jan 02). OLD WEST DRAMA ACQUIRED BY U.-I. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  6. ^ Louella parsons: Gable gets to embrace grace. (1954, Jun 18). The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) Retrieved from
  7. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1954, Aug 01). Producer yet to book own film. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  8. ^ Blakesley, R. (1954, Oct 10). Adventure, intrigue in jittery hong kong. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from
  9. ^ 'Reap the wild wind' returns to screens. (1954, Nov 05). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  10. ^ By THOMAS M PRYORSpecial to The New,York Times. (1954, Nov 06). GIANT' LEAD ROLE GIVEN TO HUDSON. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  11. ^ Clark gable takes role of greeter on airliner. (1954, Nov 12). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  12. ^ "GABLE — Soldier of Fortune". The World's News (2793). New South Wales, Australia. 2 July 1955. p. 12. Retrieved 22 April 2018 – via National Library of Australia.

External links[edit]