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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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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 »
[when her father father discovers her in the Chinaman's room]
'Taint nothin' wrong! 'Taint nothin' wrong! I fell down in the doorway and wasn't nothin' wrong!
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The subjects this film deals with are ugly, but the whole thing is done in a beautiful way.
Subjects dealt with are racism, poverty and the reasons why.
The way Griffith deals with these subjects is the contrasts settings. Look at the room above the Chinaman's shop: opulent, festooned with the finest oriental silk. Compare that with the stark squalor of the abode of Lucy and her bruiser of a father. Then there is the education and sophistication of the orientals compared to the simplistic, ill-thought-out racial prejudice of Battling and his cronies.
I also enjoyed the boxing match. Very realistic - not the fantastic nonsense of your Rocky-type bout where a man all but beaten to a jelly suddenly pulls some heavy punches from nowhere and wins the fight.
The acting, as has been mentioned elsewhere, is terrific from all three of the principal characters. Also, their characters are well-drawn. Even Battling Burrows - complete with cauliflower ear - is more than a mere heavy: he boxes for a living, he drinks, he lives in a slum with few worldly possessions. Why?
I find it hard to believe that the films they make nowadays are nowhere near as good as this. Whatever happened to progress?
This film spawned the famous song "Limehouse Blues."
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