When young Lotus Flower sees an unconscious man floating in the water near the seashore, she quickly gets help for him. The man is Allen Carver, an American visiting China. Soon the two have fallen in love, and Carver promises to take her with him when he returns home. But Carver's friends discourage him from doing this, and he returns to the USA alone. By the time the two of them meet again, much has changed, and their reunion proves very trying for them both. Written by
During production, star Anna May Wong reportedly said, "This picture will never reach the screen." See more »
How would you like to go to America, Lotus Flower?
You take me to those United States? Christian lady at Mission tell me America fine place. Women free - can spend all husband's money.
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The Toll of the Sea draws an audience because it was made in the early two strip Technicolor process. The story is about a Chinese girl named Lotus Flower (Anna May Wong) who finds a man dashed upon the rocks by the sea and rescues him. His name is Allen Carver (Kenneth Harlan) and he is an American. He and Lotus Flower fall in love and get married against the warnings that he will leave her for a white woman. Allen has good intentions until some American friends convince him to leave Lotus Flower behind because an inter-racial marriage would never work. The prophesy comes true, and Allen marries childhood sweetheart Elsie (Beatrice Bentley) in America, leaving Lotus Flower with a baby (Priscilla Moran) and a broken heart.
The story is simple, sad, and poetic with some great acting by Wong. Unfortunately, many of her films are lost or unavailable, but she is always impressive in the roles she is given. Thankfully, the Chinese are portrayed sympathetically with very little stereotyping.
The Technicolor is amazing here. We see mostly green and red, but the costuming and settings are strategically designed to utilize those colors. What results is a breath-taking film.
The end of this film is lost, but it was restored by filming the Pacific Ocean with an original Technicolor camera. The title cards make the ending clear and the loss of footage does not detract from the ending's emotional power.
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