The 2-strip Technicolor sequence, running 442 feet, i.e. the flashbacks to San Francisco's Chinatown, when Sam was a child, only survives in black and white and has been given a Sepiatone treatment for the Turner Classic Movies presentation. See more »
Wealthy Caucasian-looking Chinese student Richard Barthelmess (as Sam Lee) is accepted by some of his school chums, but many girls shun him when they find out he's really a "Chinaman". Not knowing where he fits in, Mr. Barthelmess drops out of college and sails for Europe. Barthelmess settles in the south of France, assisting English author Claude King (as Mr. Bathurst) with a play he is writing about Chinese culture. Barthelmess is "popular with the ladies," and catches the eye of beautiful blonde Constance Bennett (as Allana Wagner). Perhaps recalling his earlier rejections, Barthelmess does not reveal his Chinese ancestry to Ms. Bennett...
Her father Anders Randolf (as Mr. Wagner) wonders about Barthelmess' background but Bennett doesn't care, or does she...
Bennett's reaction to the news should not to be missed. You should note that the very next scene begins her turnaround, and that she has transferred feelings to her victim. This trading off of prejudice is artful and interesting; and, for the time, this film takes a positive stand regarding miscegenation. That doesn't make it convincing, however. Barthelmess was a top actor, and placed #8 in "Quigley Publications" 1930 annual money-makers list. He has some good scenes, and the production values are high, but his characterization is askew. Barthelmess was getting too old for the college boy roles. And Bennett is saddled with a difficult to redeem scene.
***** Son of the Gods (3/9/30) Frank Lloyd ~ Richard Barthelmess, Constance Bennett, Anders Randolf, E. Alyn Warren
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