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Ling Tang and his family live on his prosperous farm in rural Southern China and have not yet felt the impact of the Japanese invasion in the North. Tang's two oldest sons, Lao Ta Tan and Lao Er Tan are married and hard working while youngest son Lao San Tan remains a free spirit. Er's wife Jade is also willfully unconventional and desires to exercises her literacy skills by reading books, a most unfeminine practice in 1930's China. Tang's only daughter is married to Wu Lien, a city merchant who profits from selling Japanese goods. When the dreaded invasion reaches their village, the family is scattered as the sons join the resistance while Wu Lien survives by collaborating with the enemy.Written by
Filmed in 1943 on the MGM lot in Culver City, CA, the film features an unusual assortment of non-Asian actors with odd accents playing Chinese and Japanese: Russian-born and Stanislavski-trained Akim Tamiroff as Wu Lien; Turhan Bey, Viennese born son of a Turkish father and Czechoslovakian mother as the middle son, Lao Er Tan; New England patrician Katharine Hepburn as his wife; American Aline MacMahon--no longer one of the wisecracking Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)--as the wife of Ling Tang; English-born Henry Travers (best remembered as Clarence the Angel from It's a Wonderful Life (1946)) as the Third Cousin;" Irish-American J. Carrol Naish as the Japanese Kitchen Overseer; and finally Jewish Robert Lewis, co-founder of the Actors Studio and Meryl Streep's teacher at the Yale Drama School, as Japanese Capt. Sato. See more »
[referring to Jade's son]
He has his eyes open. Make sure the one who teaches him has his eyes open.
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I was lucky to have watched this movie with my girlfriend's father, who is Chinese. Although he didn't understand a word, he LOVED IT! He was part of the original communist movement and could totally relate to the scenes of farmers taking up arms and meeting in the mountains to plan the fight against the Japanese invaders.
He wondered why, despite the fact that the budding commies in the movie were portrayed as very heroic, he'd never heard of this movie in China. Here is an American movie that glorifies his struggles - that was produced at a time when he was told to completely shun everything Western. Made him think a little, I bet.
Oh, and by the way, don't listen to what anybody else says about the white actors playing Chinese in this movie... it's almost painful to watch!
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