A priest (William Holden) arrives at a mission-post in China accompanied by a young native girl who has joined him along the way. His job is to relieve the existing priest (Clifton Webb), who is now too old and weak to continue with the upkeep of the church. However, Communist soldiers arrive at the mission and seize it as a command post. Their leader rapes the native girl and impregnates her, only later to realise that Communism is no good for him. In the end, the foursome flee to the border, but are pursued by Communist forces along the way.
Clifton Webb is quite effective here as a catholic priest "Fr. Bovard" who must reconcile his rather optimistically dogmatic faith with the arrival of his more worldly and pragmatic assistant "Fr. O'Banion" (William Holden) and the rise of the Communist party as exemplified by his former student "Chung Ten" (Robert Lee) who takes some pleasure in making his erstwhile friend suffer whilst violating their new young cook "Siu Lan" (France Nuyen). What now ensues is a battle of wills that increasingly polarises both men of principle with an underwhelming Holden treading the middle ground. The frequently quite appalling subject matter is pretty clunkily handled; the plot oversimplifies just about everything it touches and ultimately we are left with characterisations that offer the audience little to like or to, until right at the very end, sympathise with. This last film from the usually engaging Webb is hardly a fitting cinematic epitaph, but at least he does do his job - something no-one else on either side of the camera can reasonably claim to do well here.