IMDb > Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919)
Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl
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Down 48% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Thomas Burke (adapted from 'The Chink and the Child' by)
D.W. Griffith (writer)
View company contact information for Broken Blossoms or The Yellow Man and the Girl on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
20 October 1919 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Yet Another Griffith/Gish Masterpiece See more (82 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Lillian Gish ... Lucy - The Girl (as Miss Lillian Gish)

Richard Barthelmess ... The Yellow Man (as Mr. Richard Barthelmess)

Donald Crisp ... Battling Burrows
Arthur Howard ... His Manager

Edward Peil Sr. ... Evil Eye (as Edward Peil)

George Beranger ... The Spying One
Norman Selby ... A Prizefighter
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ernest Butterworth ... Secondary Role (uncredited)
Fred Hamer ... Secondary Role (uncredited)
Wilbur Higby ... London Policeman (uncredited)
Man-Ching Kwan ... Buddhist Monk (uncredited)
Steve Murphy ... Fight Spectator (uncredited)

George Nichols ... Secondary Role (uncredited)
Karla Schramm ... Secondary Role (uncredited)
Bessie Wong ... Girl in China (uncredited)

Directed by
D.W. Griffith (under the personal direction of)
Writing credits
Thomas Burke (adapted from 'The Chink and the Child' by)

D.W. Griffith (writer)

Produced by
D.W. Griffith .... producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
G.W. Bitzer (photography by)
Film Editing by
James Smith (uncredited)
Art Department
Joseph Stringer .... set builder (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
Hendrik Sartov .... visual effects (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Karl Brown .... camera operator (uncredited)
Music Department
David Cullen .... orchestrator (1983 version)
Carl Davis .... conductor (1983 re-release)
Carl Davis .... music adaptor (1983 re-release)
Carl Davis .... music arranger (1983 re-release)
Joseph Turrin .... conductor (2001 version)
Louis F. Gottschalk .... music arranger (uncredited)
Other crew
Man-Ching Kwan .... technical advisor (uncredited)
James B. Leong .... interpreter: Chinese (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Broken Blossoms" - International (English title) (imdb display title), USA (short title)
See more »
90 min
Black and White (tinted screen)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M | UK:15 (DVD rating) | UK:PG (official rating) | USA:Not Rated

Did You Know?

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 »
Continuity: During the boxing scene, when the two fighters enter the ring; Battling is wearing his robe in one shot, and in the next shot it is off.See more »
Lucy Burrows:'Tain't five! 'Tain't five!See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in La vela incantata (1982) (TV)See more »


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32 out of 42 people found the following review useful.
Yet Another Griffith/Gish Masterpiece, 31 March 2005
Author: Ron Oliver ( from Forest Ranch, CA

Like the BROKEN BLOSSOMS of a trampled rose, the pure affection between two unutterably lonely people is destroyed by evil & hatred.

Turning his back temporarily on the Silent epics of his past, movie master David Wark Griffith turned the laser beam of his talent on the tragic story of three pathetic individuals living in the slums of London's Limehouse: a fragile waif, her vicious father, and the gentle Chinese shopkeeper living nearby. No huge casts rampaging through innumerable subplots, no tremendous production values spent to illustrate the sweep & flow of a historical period. Just three people living increasingly desperate lives, brought together by a tidal wave of pure emotion.

Lillian Gish was right thinking she was too old to play the young girl, and she did so only at Griffith's insistence, but it is impossible to contemplate anyone else in the role. She is utterly luminous as the abused child who finds a few moments of glorious affection with the young foreigner from the East. Miss Gish's magically expressive face creates a classic cinema moment when she attempts to smile to save herself from a beating, pushing up the corners of her mouth with two fingers, while her tormented eyes reveal to the viewer her deep pain and fear. Later, in her celebrated closet scene, like a trapped animal she releases an explosion of frenzy which is still difficult to watch, as her attacker uses a hatchet to smash the barrier between them. Miss Lillian had started rehearsals while weakened from the Spanish Flu; she created a movie portrait which caught her genius forever.

Matching her in almost every particular is her costar Richard Barthelmess, who gives a most sensitive portrayal as the Chinese missionary who comes to England to proselytize for Buddha, but instead finds himself alone & friendless in the squalor of the great city. Barthelmess uses his eyes almost exclusively to express what's in his heart, bringing enormous dignity & repose to his role. It is too easy today to criticize a performer for playing an ethnic role, but once, to be able to do so convincingly, was considered the hallmark of a capable actor. Barthelmess does so with both conviction & distinction, bringing the film to a heartbreaking conclusion.

Rounding out the threesome is Englishman Donald Crisp. Although in reality the most gentle and affable of men, he nonetheless made a career during the Silent Era of playing violent brutes, never more despicable than here. His character glories in the terrors he inflicts on Miss Lillian, the viewer loathes him, and his eventual fate is most welcome & well deserved.

The film almost didn't get released. Paramount Pictures boss Adolph Zukor hated it; he thought it too morbid. Griffith raised the operating costs of $91,000 and purchased the film, releasing it through United Artists. Receptive audiences helped it make millions. As Miss Lillian said decades later, "Griffith put tragic poetry on the screen for the first time."

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