SPOTLIGHT: Sizzling Pre-Code Stanwyck (IX)

Welcome to a new Film Friday and the continuation of our spotlight series on the Pre-Code work of Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990), one of Hollywood’s most respected leading ladies. Known for her snarky and cigarette-filled performances, many of Stanwyck’s Pre-Code films have become notorious for their delightful disinterest in adhering to the provisions of the 1930 Production Code. Surprisingly, we’d only featured one Stanwyck film here before, Night Nurse (1931). So far in this survey of her work, we have covered Ladies Of Leisure (1930), Illicit (1931), Ten Cents A Dance (1931), The Miracle Woman (1931),  Forbidden (1932), Shopworn (1932),  So Big! (1932), and The Purchase Price (1932). Today…

 

The Bitter Tea Of General Yen (1933)

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An American missionary falls in love with a Chinese warlord. Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Nils Asther, Toshia Mori, and Walter Connolly. Screenplay by Edward E. Paramore, Jr. Based on a story by Grace Zaring Stone. Directed by Frank Capra.

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“The American missionary Megan Davis arrives in Shanghai during the Chinese Civil War to marry the missionary Dr. Robert Strife. However, Robert postpones their wedding to rescue some orphans in an orphanage in Chapei section that is burning in the middle of a battlefield. While returning to Shanghai with the children, they are separated in the crowd, Megan is hit in the head and knocked out, but is saved by General Yen and brought by train to his palace. As the days go by, the General’s mistress Mah-Li becomes close to Megan and when she is accused of betrayal for giving classified information to the enemies, Megan asks for her life. The cruel General Yen falls in love for the naive and pure Megan and accepts her request to spare the life of Mah-Li against the will of his financial advisor Jones. Meanwhile Megan feels attracted by the powerful and gentle General Yen, but resists to his flirtation. When Mah-Li betrays General Yen and destroys his empire, Megan realizes that to be able to do good works, one has to have wisdom and decides to stay with him while the General drinks his bitter last tea.” (This summary is brought to you courtesy of IMDb.)

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The Bitter Tea of General Yen 3

 

 

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