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Three friends who fought the Japanese in Malaya during World War II end up on opposing sides in theCommunistinsurgency following the war. Ferris (William Holden) becomes a prosperous rubber plantation owner, while his mistress Dhana (Capucine) is now head of a schoolteacher's union. The third former guerrilla, Ng (Tetsuro Tamba), goes to Moscow to obtain an education. When he returns, an even more committed revolutionary than during the war, Dhana is torn between the two.
Ferris, whose friendship with Ng makes him and his holdings immune from attack, tries to steer clear of the conflict, but is inexorably drawn in when Dhana is arrested and sentenced to death for carrying explosives for the insurgents. As an additional complication, Candace Trumpey (Susannah York), the daughter of the British Resident whom Ferris had met at the end of the war, is infatuated with the worldly Ferris. The naive Candace offers herself as a hostage and falls into Ng's hands; he threatens to kill her if the sentence on Dhana is carried out. Ferris offers to flush Ng out in exchange for Dhana's life, but is given only seven days to do so.