PASSAGE FROM HONG KONG. Warner Brothers, 1941. Lucile Fairbanks, Douglas Kennedy (as Keith Douglas), Paul Cavanagh, Richard Ainley, Marjorie Gateson, Gloria Holden, William Hopper (uncredited, as a worker at the US Consulate). Based on the novel The Agony Column, by Earl Derr Biggers. Director: D. Ross Lederman.

   Passage from Hong Kong takes place before the war and as foreign nationals are warned to leave Hong Kong. Finding a ship that will take them out of harm’s way is a problem, though, but in the chaos a young man (Douglas Kennedy) meets a young girl (Lucille Fairbanks) who catches his eye. She is traveling with her aunt (Marjorie Gateson) who disapproves of him.

   Not knowing the young lady’s name, the young man resorts to a local newspaper’s classified ads section. She responds, but playing it coy, she asks him to write her five letters first before she will decide to meet him or not.

   We do not know this until later, but the young man is a writer of thriller novels, and following the old adage of “write what you know,” the letters he sends her are a series of chapter installments of an serious scrape  he gets into involving both murder and international intrigue.

   It’s all totally fictitious, of course, but the story he tells her, to get into her good graces, as well as her aunt’s, is dramatized for us on the screen, making this a full-fledged adventure film as well as a romance, with a considerable amount of frothy comedy thrown in to boot.

   The Agony Column, the story by Earl Derr Biggers that the movie is based on, takes place in England before World War I, but as in the film, the communications between two would-be lovers takes place through a series of a newspaper’s “agony column,” so there is some similarity. (I’ve not read the book. I’m only stating what I found out about it online.)

   The movie is no classic, far from it. Once watched, quickly forgotten, the players as well as the story line. Especially the story line.