An excellent coating of intrigue and action against an Oriental background provides Peking Express with enough thriller melodramatics to satisfy action-minded audiences.
Considerable of the action [from a story by Harry Hervey, adapted by Jules Furthman] takes place aboard the Peking Express on a run between Shanghai and Peking. Aboard are Joseph Cotten, UN doctor on his way to operate on the head of the Nationalist underground; Corinne Calvet, adventuress and old flame of Cotten’s; Edmund Gwenn, a priest; Marvin Miller, black market operator; and Benson Fong, rabid Commie newspaperman.
Action becomes rapid when Miller tips his hands, has his bandits seize the train and the principal passengers to hold as hostages so he can secure the release of his son from the underground.
Cotten does a credible job of his character, keeping it unassuming but forceful. Calvet makes an interesting charmer, and Gwenn is excellent as the old priest. Miller’s Chinese heavy is expertly forced for hisses. Fong impresses strongly as the reporter, a role that takes him away from his usual light-comedy characters.