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Customs Agent

Customs Agent(1950)

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Customs agent Roy Phillips is on the trail of smugglers who are importing streptomycin into Shanghai and cutting it with additives that dilute its potency and make it potentially harmful. While his partner, Bert Stewart, is having dinner with a beautiful woman, Phillips pursues a lead and is killed. Later, Stewart is summoned to the customs office, where Thomas Jacoby, chief of the Customs Service, and Perry, another agent, recommend that Stewart be dismissed for abandoning his partner. After a noisy argument, Stewart leaves the office and heads for the nearest bar, where he proceeds to get drunk. On a signal from Miss Kung, Jacoby's secretary, Stewart is then followed by a man named Pettygill. Later, Miss Kung meets Charles Johnson, a man under investigation by the Customs Service, and shows him his own file. When a drunken Stewart returns to his room, he is visited by McGraw, a friend of Stewart's father, who was also a customs agent. McGraw offers to help Stewart start over again in the United States, but Stewart turns him down. Over the next few days, Stewart continues to drink. Pettygill reports his activities to Johnson, who then offers Stewart a job using his expertise to circumvent customs investigations. After Stewart accepts the offer, Johnson sends him back to the United States with a warning not to betray the operation. Later that evening, McGraw cautions Stewart against Johnson, but his words have no effect. Before he leaves, Stewart receives new luggage from Johnson. He examines it thoroughly and discovers a hidden pouch. Stewart then takes the pouch to a secret room, where Perry and Jacoby are waiting with Phillips, whose killing was faked to create a plausible reason for the smugglers to contact Stewart. Stewart determines that the pouch is filled with narcotics, causing the others to speculate that Johnson may be setting him up. A few days later, Stewart and Johnson sail for the United States. Stewart is surprised to learn that McGraw is also on board the ship. On leaving his cabin, Stewart notices that passenger Lucille Gerrard, who is a friend of Johnson, has luggage exactly like his. Later, Stewart removes the drugs from his luggage and secrets them in a special garment. Stewart makes friends with Lucille, and on the last night, she asks him to help her smuggle a ruby into the United States. To prove that he has turned against the Customs Service, Stewart agrees, although he knows that the gem is not real. Once in the United States, Stewart discovers that his luggage has been replaced with Lucille's. He still has the drugs, however, and secretly contacts the Los Angeles customs agents. By keeping the drugs, Stewart convinces McGraw, who is the real head of the smugglers, that he has broken with the law. Johnson's men eventually contact Stewart and take him to meet McGraw, who offers him a job smuggling streptomycin into China. After he accepts, Stewart uses a ruse to get a message to local customs agent J. G. Goff. After Johnson's men steal a shipment of the medicine, Stewart passes information about the planned transfer of the drug to an agent. The next morning, a suspicious McGraw changes the plans, but Stewart manages to signal the Coast Guard from their new location onboard a boat, and the smugglers, including McGraw, Johnson and Lucille, are arrested.