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Malaya (film)

File:Malaya - 1949- Poster.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Produced by Edwin H. Knopf
Written by Manchester Boddy (story)
Frank Fenton
Starring Spencer Tracy
James Stewart
Music by $1,379,000[1]
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • December 27, 1949 (1949-12-27)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,087,000[1]

Malaya is a 1949 war film starring Spencer Tracy and James Stewart and set in colonial Malaya during World War II. The movie was directed by Richard Thorpe. The supporting cast includes Lionel Barrymore, Sydney Greenstreet, John Hodiak and DeForest Kelley.


In January 1942 (a month after the United States has entered World War II), reporter John Royer (James Stewart) returns to the United States. He goes to see his friend, newspaper publisher John Manchester (Lionel Barrymore), about a scheme to smuggle out desperately needed rubber out of Japanese-occupied Malaya. Manchester, though he has been selected by the government to deal with the rubber shortage, does not seem interested, but later, government agent Kellar (John Hodiak) takes him to a meeting with Manchester and others. They give their approval.

Royer needs the help of his old friend, Carnaghan (Spencer Tracy); he gets Carnaghan released from Alcatraz (where Royer's newspaper exposé had landed him) to help. They slip into Malaya and contact Carnaghan's associate, the Dutchman (Sydney Greenstreet), who conveniently recruits a gang of cutthroats for them from customers in his saloon, including Romano (Gilbert Roland). Carnaghan also renews his acquaintance with the saloon's singer, Luana (Valentina Cortese) from Italy.

Using money and intimidation, they succeed in purchasing all the available rubber, but eventually the Japanese commander, Colonel Tomura (Richard Loo), gets wind of the scheme. On the last trip to transport the remaining rubber belonging to part-German plantation owner Bruno Gerber (Roland Winters) to a waiting freighter, Carnaghan smells an ambush. He forces Gruber to confess that he tipped off Tomura. Royer decides to try going around the ambush, but is killed by the waiting soldiers.

Tomura hints to the Dutchman that he would be willing to look the other way and let the rubber go in return for gold. Despite the Dutchman's certainty that Tomura is lying, the cynical Carnaghan takes him up on his offer. The Dutchman is right; Carnaghan is captured by Tomura. He takes Tomura to where the freighter lies hidden, but when a Japanese warship arrives, it is met by two PT boats, which proceed to sink it with torpedoes. Carnaghan shoots first the soldiers guarding him, then Tomura, but is himself wounded.

When Malaya is liberated by the Allies, Kellar tracks Carnaghan down to an island, where he has settled down with an Italian girl, to give him a medal.



According to MGM records the film earned $1,959,000 in the US and Canada and $1,128,000 overseas resulting in a profit of $691,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .

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