Bombs Over Burma (1942)



Director:     Joseph H. Lewis.

Starring:      Anna May Wong (schoolteacher Lin Ying),  Noel Madison (Me-Hoi),  Leslie Denison (Sir Roger Howe),  Nedrick Young (Slim Jenkins),  Dan Seymour (Pete Brogranza),  Frank Lackteen (Hallam),  Teala Loring (Lucy Dell),  Dennis Moore (Tom Whitley),  Connie Leon (Ma Sing),  Hayward Soo Hoo (Ling),  Richard Loo (Col. Kim),  Paul Fung (Toy Vendor),  Richard Wong (Servant). 

 Story of WWII Chinese fighters keeping the Burma Road open for Allied transport vehicles.  


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Chungking.  A teacher named Lin Ying keeps her students in line.  But she has to excuse herself from the class.  She goes to speak to her contact.  He tells her that they want to send a woman on the next mission.  She is to leave after she dismisses class.  She returns to her class and teaches the children to sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy".  There are Jalpanese airplanes over head.  They drop their bombs.  One little boy has been left in the classroom by mistake.  People run for cover in the air raid shelters.  Lin Ying comes back for the boy.  She sees a dive bomber coming and has to hit the deck fast.  A dive bomber descends once again to shoot at the civililans.  This time the little boy is shot and goes down.  Lin Ying picks up his body.  Now she is more determined than every that her mission be a success. 

Lashio.  The bus is about to leave.  Sir Roger Howe gets aboard.   A pretty blonde named Lucy Dell also gets on the bus.  Lin Ying gets aboard with the stated mission of checking on school supplies.  The bus passes by men working on the Burma Road.  At night the bus is stopped.  The bridge is out ahead.  They are going to stay at a monastery for the night.  Lin Ying sees the monk open a secret passage and she goes to see what it's all about.  He seems to be receiving a radio message from someone.  The monk notices that he is being watched and stops. 

The bus driver complains that somebody stole the bus's distributor.  Airplanes start bombing the area.  They quickly douse the lights in the convent.  A bridge is hit and collapses.  The bus driver says the trucks and the men have been blown to bits.  Lin Ying says:  "They knew exactly where to bomb."   Somebody must have notified the Japanese.  The monk says it could have been worse.  They could havwe bombed the next convoy which will be bringing medicine and munitions to Chungking.  Yin Ling says that all convoys are important to China now.  She thinks that someone is trying to keep them at the convent.  The bus driver Slim says he saw the coolies working on the road out in the rain using lanterns for light.   Slim says he and China have learned the same lesson:  to hit back at the bullies.  He considers all those coolies working on the road to be his blood-brothers.

The monk returns to his secret room.  The message he received reads  "Your query about party received.  Party is as you suspect.  H. Q."  He goes to check on Lin Ying. He wakes her up and has her come with him.  The auto repairman wakes up Sir Roger.  He wants Sir Roger to give him some money and he will help find the distributor.  Sir Roger thinks this is black mail and wants nothing to do with the man.  When the repairman goes back to bed, Sir Roger whispers something to his bodyguard.    

The monk tells Yin Ling that the report came back from headquarters that she is a major.  He is glad.  The monk is actually Yin Ling's father. 

In the morning, Sir Roger has the body guard cut the chain attached to his wrist to release the dispatch case he was carrying.  Then Sir Roger cries out that someone has stolen his case.  The dispatch was to the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Chek himself.   He demands that all luggage be searched.  Sir Roger also wants to know where is the mechanic?  When the mechanic comes in, Sir Roger tells him the money is in the case, so he should keep his mouth shut for now.  He will talk to him about it when they get to Chungking.  The mechanic tells Slim that he knows who stole the distributor.  Just as he is about to tell the name of the thief, the man gets a knife stuck in his back.  Nobody knows who did it. 

The convoy moves forward toward the monastery.  A passenger named Tom wants to know who killed the mechanic and why isn't the bus fixed by now?  Sir Roger is suspicious of the monk.  He starts keeping an eye on him.  They search around the room with the secret hide-away.  They wonder where the monk has gone.  The monk hears them talking.  Sir Roger tricks the monk by pretending he left the room.  The monk comes out and Sir Roger asks him when will breakfast be ready?  He holds a gun on the monk and tells him to open the secret door. 

Yin Ling comes down and asks Sir Roger what is going on?  He tells her to look inside the room.  She does so and Sir Roger tells her that the monk has been exchanging messages with the Japanese.   Yin Ling tries to run away, but Sir Roger stops her.  He has his bodyguard tie father and daughter up.  He also tells them that the bodyguard killed the mechanic.  Slim comes downstairs and Sir Roger explains the situation.  slim says he is disappointed in her.  He liked her and the way she talked to him.  But now he won't believe a word she says.  Yin Ling tells Slim that the convoy arriving soon is a decoy convoy to see if its arrival will be announced to the Japanese. 

Sir Roger takes Lucy and Tom prisoner.  He then starts sending a message to the Japanese.  The monk says he hears a message being sent in code.  They finally convince Slim to let them go.  Slim and Yin Ling go upstairs to catch Sir Roger.  Sir Roger tells Slim not to believe Yin Ling.  Yin Ling says she is willing to give her life to prove that Sir Roger is the spy.  She will ride in the first truck of the convoy along with Sir Roger.  Sir Roger says he will go and Slim says they will all go.  They take a short cut to walk down to the road to intercept the convoy. 

They stop the convoy and Slim and the other two take the lead truck down the road.  They hear the airplanes coming overhead.  Sir Roger jumps out of the truck and rolls down an embankment.  Slim starts to go after him, but Yin Ling tells Slim that the man is not Sir Roger, but a German intelligence imposter.  Yin Ling whistles for the road workers and they capture the imposter.  They then kill him with their road working tools. 

Now Yin Ling tells Slim that the planes dropped no bombs, because they are American planes.  The American planes met the Japanese planes and turned them back.  Slim is shocked, but Yin Ling tells him it was all part of the decoy operation. 

Father says goodbye to his daughter.  He says that Rangoon may be lost and Mandalay may be threatened, but there will always be a road open to the heart of China.  The bus moves out for Chungking. 


Simple B movie about a Chinese woman operating as a spy to help keep the Burma Road open for transport between Burma and China.  It's a short movie without a complicated plot.  You only get a  little insight of the importance of the Burma Road. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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