A large group of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco is clandestinely donating whatever money they earn to smuggle arms into China for the rebels in their fight against the centuries old ...
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A large group of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco is clandestinely donating whatever money they earn to smuggle arms into China for the rebels in their fight against the centuries old Manchurian imperial oppressors. The secrecy of their mission is to hide their identities from anyone supporting the imperial regime. One of the immigrants supporting the rebels is Dr. Dong Tong. His only offspring, the demure Lien Wha, who also supports the cause, is in love with poor university student, Tom Lee, the two who, after meeting formally, want to get married, which Dr. Tong supports. However, Dr. Tong learns that the rebel backers are short $100,000 for the latest shipment of arms, and are asking the four men within the group with eligible daughters to donate $25,000 apiece, that money to be raised by selling their daughters into marriage to a wealthy buyer. Dr. Tong is one of the four, Lien Wha the daughter to be sold. Simultaneously, Dr. Tong learns of Tom's true identity as the son of ... Written by
Chinatown, Old San Francisco, early 20th Century. With revolution raging against the despotic Emperor in China, sympathizers in California work feverishly to ship weapons to the rebels, forever fighting Imperial assassins & hatchet men. Against this backdrop, a lovely Chinese maiden, only child of a gentle doctor, finds love with a newly arrived Celestial. She will soon be surrounded by danger & death, but her remarkable bravery will earn her honor as THE SON-DAUGHTER.
It's easy to criticize this film, with its roster of Western actors all playing Asian roles. That, however, would not be fair. It's important to remember that in 1932 Hollywood it was not unusual for stars to portray other nationalities. Indeed, Ramon Novarro, who receives equal billing here with Helen Hayes, made an entire career doing so. Being able to play ethnic roles was part of what acting was all about.
However, it is correct to say that Miss Hayes does give a rather overripe performance. Novarro comes off better, quietly underplaying his role. The rest of the cast - Lewis Stone, H. B. Warner, Ralph Morgan & Warner Oland - are effectively vile or virtuous, as the script demands. Elderly Louise Closser Hale steals a few scenes as the tart-tongued companion of Miss Hayes. Movie mavens will recognize Edwin Maxwell as the Chinese priest officiating at the wedding ceremony.
Good production values - notice the street scenes - show that MGM was not too stingy with the funds spent on this film.
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