8 user 1 critic

The Forbidden City (1918)

A Chinese mandarin hopes to regain favor with the Emporer by betrothing her to him, but he doesn't know she's secretly married to the American consul and pregnant.



, (story)

On Disc

at Amazon


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A man and his wife both have criminal pasts, but have quit crime and are now respectable citizens. One day a member of their old gang shows up and threatens to expose them if they don't ... See full summary »

Directors: Chester M. Franklin, Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Talmadge, Ralph Lewis, Ninon Fovieri
Letty Lynton (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Wealthy socialite Letty Lynton is returning to New York, abandoning one-tine lover Emile Renaul in South America, when she strikes up a shipboard romance with Jerry Darrow. Renault is ... See full summary »

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Joan Crawford, Robert Montgomery, Nils Asther
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A convict hiding in Chinatown assumes the identity of a cripple to track down a businessman who framed him 15 years previously. He discovers that his daughter has fallen in love with the businessman's son.

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Lon Chaney, Edith Roberts, Noah Beery
Tango 2001 (1974)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Joachim is an impotent man who who secretly films his friend Stathis having sex with girls from the Tango Club. When Stathis kills the lesbian that he catches with his girlfriend, the death is caught on film. Necrophilia soon follows.

Director: Kostas Karagiannis
Stars: Lakis Komninos, Erika Raffael, Dorothy Moore
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Jill is surprised and angry when her computer-genius boyfriend decides to quit his job in a big company for unclear reasons. But when her children disapear mysteriously and seem to have ... See full summary »

Director: René Clément
Stars: Faye Dunaway, Frank Langella, Barbara Parkins
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

After a six year journey, the Spaceship Cyrno lands on the planet TEM 4 from where they had received a call for help. Strangely enough, the Temers deny having sent this message. As ... See full summary »

Director: Gottfried Kolditz
Stars: Jana Brejchová, Alfred Struwe, Ekkehard Schall
Certificate: Passed Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The Crown Prince is to marry the Princess Brenda of Irania, but the Princess declines the arranged marriage. Relieved, Florizel heads for London, with the Colonel, where he seeks adventure ... See full summary »

Director: J. Walter Ruben
Stars: Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell, Frank Morgan
Kiki (1926)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Kiki, a poor young woman who sells newspapers on the street corners of Paris, is able to land a job singing and dancing at a nearby theater. While she is there, she invites herself into the... See full summary »

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Norma Talmadge, Ronald Colman, Gertrude Astor
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Hank owns horses, stables horses and races horses. He favorite horse always wins and he is prosperous and will known. His son (Bob), however dreams only of the future of the horseless ... See full summary »

Director: Roy Del Ruth
Stars: Russell Simpson, Frank Campeau, Gibson Gowland
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Director: Henry Koster
Stars: Franciska Gaal, Hans Holt, Hans Olden
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Directors: Joseph A. Golden, Julius Steger
Stars: Norma Talmadge, Fred Esmelton, Chester Barnett
Cainà (1922)
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Director: Gennaro Righelli
Stars: Maria Jacobini, Carlo Benetti, Ida Carloni Talli


Credited cast:
San San / Toy
John Worden
E. Alyn Warren ...
Wong Li
Michael Rayle ...
L. Rogers Lytton ...
Chinese Emperor
Reid Hamilton ...
Lieutenant Philip Halbert
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Fang ...


The daughter of a Chinese mandarin is sentenced to death for her secret marriage to an American. Their child, raised in the mandarin's palace, grows up and escapes to seek her father, now a high-ranking official in the Philippines. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance





Release Date:

6 October 1918 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Tale of the Forbidden City  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A story set in Beijing in the 19th century
26 November 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a story of an American man attached to the US Embassy in Beijing (or Peking as it was called by Westerners then) who falls in love with a Chinese girl. It is based on a story by George Scarborough (1975-1951), a popular author and playwright of that time, though he was not anyone with any particular knowledge of China. The American is solidly played by Thomas Meighan, and the Chinese girl is played by silent star Norma Talmadge, aged 22. There are a few genuine Chinese who appear in the film, including three cute little children, but only one Chinese actor has his name mentioned on a card (but he is not listed in the IMDb credits). I suppose it is fortunate that there are any real Chinese in the film at all, as there were not many at hand in those days. Meighan is taking lessons in Chinese from a court mandarin who has been banished from the court by the Emperor's wrath, and who thus has a lot of time on his hands. On one occasion, Meighan is able to wander through the extensive garden of the mandarin, where he meets the mandarin's enchanting daughter, San San (played by Norma). The script is corny and a lot of the pidgin-English in the cards is pretty embarrassing, including San San's name for Meighan, 'Love Man'. They have a secret affair and she becomes pregnant. Unaware of this, in order to regain favour at court, the mandarin decides to hand over his daughter to the Emperor as an addition to his harem. However, when it is discovered that she has a babe in arms whom she had concealed, the Emperor in a fit of rage has her murdered, and the child is handed over to the women in the harem to be raised there. The story then resumes after a gap of 20 years and the daughter is also played by Norma Talmadge, with a different hairstyle. She longs to escape and a court official helps her do so. She makes her way to the US Embassy and is given a letter of introduction to the US Embassy in Manila, where she is sent. She becomes a nurse and fall in love with a handsome American lieutenant. It turns out that the Governor of the Philippines (then an American Protectorate) is her own father, but neither of them knows it. Will they, can they, discover the truth? Will true love blossom once again and the young generation find the happiness which the older ones had lost? The film has accurate costumes, which was no doubt facilitated by the fact that those things were still being worn in China at the time the film was made. Somehow the producers also got hold of some of that heavy carved Qing Dynasty furniture which appears in many of the scenes. Other than that, the film is a pastiche, but at the time it must have been the best anyone could do to represent an imaginary Chinese tale of forbidden love to Westerners. Several times we see the ominous card which says: 'East is East and West is West and Never the Twain Shall Meet'. We seem to have moved on a bit since then. This silent film has historical interest as an example of how China was portrayed to the American public in 1918, and how Westerners presumably came to think of China at that time. The film was directed by Sidney Franklin (1893-1972), who 19 years later, in 1937, was to direct the film version of Pearl Buck's best-selling Chinese epic THE GOOD EARTH, which would do more to bring China to the attention of the mass Western public than all the other films made about China put together, and then some. Franklin directed 71 films, the last being THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (1957),the famous love story of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, after which, aged 64, he retired. He was, perhaps without fully realizing it, a genuinely important figure in communicating awareness of China to the Western public in the first half of the twentieth century, so that he had a cultural importance far wider and more influential than is usual in a film director. This unlikely fame will possibly outlast that of his other cinematic achievements, which in themselves were not inconsiderable.

0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss The Forbidden City (1918) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: