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

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 5,856 users  
Reviews: 73 user | 60 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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Title: Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919)

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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 <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

limehouse | boxer | chinese | waif | china | See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Release Date:

20 October 1919 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Broken Blossoms  »

Box Office

Budget:

$88,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(tinted screen)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The only makeup Richard Barthelmess used in order to appear Oriental was a very tight rubber band stretched around his forehead, pulling his facial features slightly upward. The rubber band was cleverly concealed beneath his cap. See more »

Goofs

While Lucy is looking into the window of Cheng Huan's shop, director D.W. Griffith, in his shirtsleeves and wearing a vest, can briefly but very clearly be seen reflected in the window, briskly walking into the shot and sitting down in a chair beside the camera. This occurs in the shot immediately following the intertitle "The girl with the tear-aged face." See more »

Quotes

Narrator: Above all, Battling hates those not born in the same great country as himself.
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User Reviews

 
Feminism, Masculism, Racism, All Dealt With In 'Blossoms'
2 April 2000 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Beyond the weepy, sappy, tear-jerking qualities associated with this Griffith feature, it's actually a landmark film in the annals of feminist films. In a time when women were either out on the street turning tricks, or in the home raising children, this film looks at Lucy Burrows (Miss Gish) who seems to be caught in the middle. Of both the above characteristics of period women, and literally caught between an abusive parental figure, and a caring oriental shop keeper. The question is posed...should she sustain the abuse and stay in the home, or be a social reject by shacking up with this "lowly chinaman"? As in all of Griffith's films, the women are either virtuous or fallen, and the men are either lusting brutes, or effeminate sensitive males.

Many may look aghast at the legendary Barthelmess playing the chinaman, Cheng Huan, or any one of a number of races played by white actors. If not anything else, Blossoms is a great example of stereotypes that existed in the early years of cinema. Griffith successfully deals with the race issues, (even with the use of white actors in the various race roles), extreme masculinity issues, and the above stated femininity issues bluntly, and straight to the point. In a culture dominated by the MASTER NARRATIVE of patriarchal while heterosexual males (well, even still today), D.W. tries his best to put it into perspective. And does a pretty good job of it.


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