Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  20 October 1919 (USA)
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Reviews: 76 user | 64 critic

A frail waif, abused by her brutal boxer father in London's seedy Limehouse District, is befriended by a sensitive Chinese immigrant with tragic consequences.



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Complete credited cast:
Lucy - The Girl (as Miss Lillian Gish)
The Yellow Man (as Mr. Richard Barthelmess)
Arthur Howard ...
His Manager
Edward Peil Sr. ...
Evil Eye (as Edward Peil)
George Beranger ...
The Spying One
Norman Selby ...
A Prizefighter


Cheng Huan is a missionary whose goal is to bring the teachings of peace by Buddha to the civilized Anglo-Saxons. Upon landing in England, he is quickly disillusioned by the intolerance and apathy of the country. He becomes a storekeeper of a small shop. Out his window, he sees the young Lucy Burrows. She is regularly beaten by her prizefighter father, underfed and wears ragged clothes. Even in this deplorable condition, Cheng can see that she is a priceless beauty and he falls in love with her from afar. On the day that she passes out in front of his store, he takes her in and cares for her. With nothing but love in his heart, he dresses her in silks and provides food for her. Still weak, she stays in his shop that night and all that Cheng does is watch over her. The peace and happiness that he sees last only until Battling Burrows finds out that his daughter is with a foreigner. Written by Tony Fontana <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

20 October 1919 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Broken Blossoms  »

Box Office


$88,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(tinted screen)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film's premiere engagement included a live prologue featuring a dance routine performed by actress Carol Dempster. During Dempster's dance the stage was illuminated by blue and gold footlights. Later, during the screening of the film, a stagehand accidentally switched on those footlights and the movie screen tinted the film in an unusual way. D.W. Griffith, standing in the rear of the auditorium, was so surprised and delighted at the blue and gold-tinted effect that he ordered all copies of the film to be tinted in those colors during certain key sequences. See more »


The intertitles state, "The Buddha says, 'What thou dost not want others to do thee, do thou not to others.'" It was actually not the Buddha but Confucius' teaching. See more »


Lucy Burrows: Don't whip me - don't! Please, Daddy! - Don't!
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User Reviews

The best of all Griffith films
29 December 2002 | by (Sun Prairie, WI) – See all my reviews

Many people believe the best Griffith film is "Intolerance"; some stand by "Way Down East" and still others believe in "Birth of a Nation" despite all its problems. However, I think "Broken Blossoms" is the Griffith film which stands the test of time and still rings true today, over 83 years from its debut.

"Broken Blossoms" is the story of two wounded, abused, seemingly hopeless individuals who find comfort and strength in one another. The Chinaman (played by Richard Barthelmess) and little Lucy Burrows (played by Lillian Gish) are as different as night is to day, however they complement each other and give each other what the other needs; Lucy gives the Chinaman respect as a human being, he in turn gives Lucy affection and love.

What happens to the two souls is, in my opinion, one of the most heartbreaking turn of events ever filmed. The brutal treatment of Lucy by her father and the ultimate sadness of the Chinaman at the end of the film always reduce me to tears.

Those who believe that silent movies are inferior to today's craft really needs to see "Broken Blossoms" and open their hearts and minds to a world that is beyond beauty and beyond pain.

36 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Is this the best silent movie ever? Chaves7777
Was Cheng Huan a rapist? peterpanlovesitalianbeef
A very beautiful -and sad- story FranLovesBetteD
Evil Eye: The Worst Villian ever nicecity
The first silent film I have ever watched! leedunlop82

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