8.0/10
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1 user 3 critic

Forbidden City, U.S.A. (1989)

It was the swinging 30s. The big bands of the 40s. It was San Francisco night life Baghdad by the Bay. And the crowds were packing the nation's premiere all-Chinese nightclub, Forbidden ... See full summary »

Director:

Arthur Dong

Writers:

Arthur Dong, Lorraine Dong (contributing writer)
Reviews
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview:
Larry Ching Larry Ching ... The 'Chinese Sinatra'
Frances Chun Frances Chun ... Singer
Charlie Low Charlie Low ... Owner, Forbidden City
Mary Mammon Mary Mammon ... Dancer
Toy Yat Mar Toy Yat Mar ... The 'Chinese Sophie Tucker'
Jackie Mei Ling Jackie Mei Ling ... Dancer
Dottie Sun Dottie Sun ... Comedic Dancer
Dorothy Fong Toy Dorothy Fong Toy ... The 'Chinese Ginger Rogers'
Noel Toy Noel Toy ... The 'Chinese Sally Rand'
Tony Wing Tony Wing ... Dancer
Jadin Wong Jadin Wong ... Dancer
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Storyline

It was the swinging 30s. The big bands of the 40s. It was San Francisco night life Baghdad by the Bay. And the crowds were packing the nation's premiere all-Chinese nightclub, Forbidden City. Like the Cotton Club of Harlem which featured America's finest African American entertainers, Forbidden City gained an international reputation with its unique showcase of Chinese American performers in eye-popping all-American extravaganzas. Part That's Entertainment and part PBS, Forbidden City, U.S.A. captures this little-known chapter of entertainment history and takes it center stage. Written by Anonymous

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Genres:

Documentary

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 November 1989 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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User Reviews

 
an entertaining, multi-layered history lesson
18 November 2010 | by mjneu59See all my reviews

East meets West in this lively documentary about the first all-Chinese nightclub in America and some of the personalities who brought it to life: Larry Ching and Paul Wing (the Chinese Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, respectively, quoting the club's own promotional ads), owner Charlie Low, and Toy Yat Mar (the Chinese Sophie Tucker), among others. The film works on several levels: as an insider's guide to a rarely seen aspect of show business; as a valuable local San Francisco history lesson; as big band nostalgia; and most of all as a cultural study exploring some of the attitudes, ironies, and misconceptions surrounding the Chinese American community, people who by definition are racially Chinese but culturally American. Director Arthur Dong has assembled a wealth of material: rare documentary footage; obscure excerpts from old Hollywood movies; and a rollicking background of 1940s swing music. But the best thing about the film is its many interviews: beyond being informative, each character tells a fascinating and touching story.


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