During the latter part of 1949, China was terrorised by armed forces of the Communist Party, who were rapidly overrunning the country from the north.
Into this troubled land, through the tiny province of Kwangtung in the southwest, comes a handsome – but troubled – young priest leading an obstinate horse carrying an Oriental maiden of profound beauty.
The priest’s name is Father O’Banion (William Holden), of Irish descent but born in the United States.
His duty is to relieve Father Bovard (Clifton Webb) at the San-Li-Wan Mission: his problem is his Chinese companion, Siu-Lan (France Nuyen), whom he rescued from the summer floods and who is now deeply in love with her noble saviour.
It is a Chinese custom, she says, that once you have saved a life you are responsible for that life.
From there, the Red soldiers move in and through a process of sacrilege, fear, burned crucifixes, wrecked dispensaries, the rape of Siu-Lan and murder, life becomes intolerable.
But with a spirit, faith, and obvious red cruelty, the main villain changes sides and provides an escape.
Weaver Levy (as Weaver Lee)