|Passport to China|
|Directed by||Michael Carreras|
|Produced by||Michael Carreras|
|Written by||Gordon Wellesley|
|Music by||Edwin Astley|
|Edited by||James Needs|
Hammer Film Productions
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures Corporation|
Passport to China (a.k.a. Visa to Canton) is a 1961 British spy film released by Columbia Pictures; directed by Michael Carreras and starring Richard Basehart, Lisa Gastoni, Eric Pohlmann and Bernard Cribbins. The screenplay, which concerns a pilot who tries to rescue a girl from Communist-controlled China, was based on a story by Gordon Wellesley and made by Hammer Films and Swallow Productions.
Don Benton (Richard Basehart), a former World War II combat pilot, now running a travel agency in Hong Kong, refuses to take political sides and flatly rejects an offer to do espionage work for the United States.
When Mao Tai Tai (Athene Seyler), an old Chinese woman who more or less adopted Benton during the war years, asks him to try to find her missing grandson. Benton sets out on a dangerous mission, flying into Communist-controlled China to try to rescue a girl and take her back to Hong Kong.
Knowing that the grandson was piloting a Formosan aircraft that disappeared over mainland China, Benton obtains a passport through a Russian friend, Ivano Kang (Eric Pohlmann). Flyings to the mainland, he rescues the downed pilot.
To clear the young man's name, Benton goes to Canton to bring back one of the aircraft passengers, an American agent, Lola Sanchez (Lisa Gastoni), who has memorized a vital scientific formula and is willing to sell it to the highest bidder.
Kang tries to get the formula from her, but she kills him. Benton hopes to get Lola out of the city, but as they work their way through holiday street crowds, she is fatally wounded by Kang's bodyguard and dies with her secret. Back in Hong Kong, Benton once more turns down an offer to do undercover work for the U.S. government.
Location scenes for Passport to China were filmed in Hong Kong. Released in Great Britain in Technicolor in December 1960 as Visa to Canton, the film was shown in the US in black-and-white. Although the male lead, Richard Basehart had starred in a number of prestigious feature films in the 1950s, by this point in his career, his prospects had faded. [N 1]
Film reviewer Sandra Brennan, described the spy drama as one of a "reluctant hero" who becomes involved in the Cold War tensions surrounding Communist China. Ultimately, "he refuses to do anymore work for American intelligence."