IMDb > The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)
The Bitter Tea of General Yen
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The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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7.2/10   2,079 votes »
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Release Date:
6 January 1933 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
They found a love they dared not touch!
Plot:
A Chinese warlord and an engaged Christian missionary fall in love. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
A Tour de Force For Mr. Asther See more (50 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Barbara Stanwyck ... Megan Davis

Nils Asther ... Gen. Yen
Toshia Mori ... Mah-Li

Walter Connolly ... Jones
Gavin Gordon ... Dr. Robert 'Bob' Strike
Lucien Littlefield ... Mr. Jacobson
Richard Loo ... Capt. Li

Helen Jerome Eddy ... Miss Reed
Emmett Corrigan ... Bishop Harkness
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jessie Arnold ... Mrs. Blake (uncredited)
Clara Blandick ... Mrs. Jackson (uncredited)
Robert Bolder ... Missionary (uncredited)
Nora Cecil ... Missionary (uncredited)
Wong Chung ... Chinese Officer (uncredited)
Knute Erickson ... Dr. Hansen (uncredited)
Willie Fung ... Officer (uncredited)
Adda Gleason ... Mrs. Bowman (uncredited)
Ella Hall ... Mrs. Amelia Hansen (uncredited)
Daisy Jefferson ... Mrs. Warden (uncredited)
Arthur Johnson ... Dr. Schuler (uncredited)
Tetsu Komai ... Gen. Yen's Messenger (uncredited)
Eddie Lee ... Chinese Soldier (uncredited)
Milton Lee ... Telegrapher (uncredited)
Lillian Leighton ... Missionary (uncredited)
Harriet Lorraine ... Missionary (uncredited)
Doris Louellyn ... Mrs. Meigs (uncredited)
Martha Mattox ... Miss Avery (uncredited)
Arthur Millett ... Mr. Pettis (uncredited)
Moy Ming ... Dr. Lin (uncredited)
Miller Newman ... Dr. Mott (uncredited)
Robert Wayne ... Rev. Bostwick (uncredited)
Ray Young ... Engineer (uncredited)
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Directed by
Frank Capra  (as Frank R. Capra)
 
Writing credits
Grace Zaring Stone (story)

Edward E. Paramore Jr. (screenplay) (as Edward Paramore)

Produced by
Frank Capra .... producer
Walter Wanger .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
W. Franke Harling  (as W. Frank Harling)
 
Cinematography by
Joseph Walker (photography)
 
Film Editing by
Edward Curtiss  (as Edward Curtis)
 
Costume Design by
Robert Kalloch (uncredited)
Edward Stevenson (uncredited)
 
Makeup Department
Norbert A. Myles .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles C. Coleman .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Edward Bernds .... sound engineer (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Harry Cohn .... president: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Gene Lewis .... dialogue director (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
88 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Certification:
South Korea:15 (2007) | USA:Approved | USA:TV-PG (TV rating)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Jessie Perry is in studio records/casting call lists playing "Miss Reid," but that role was played by Helen Jerome Eddy.See more »
Quotes:
Megan Davis:It's pretty hard to become acquainted with a man who ruthlessly slaughters helpless prisoners in one move, and in the next shows such a tender reverence for the beauty of the moon.
General Yen:You have the true missionary spirit. Really, Miss Davis. There are times when I would like to laugh at you, but there are also times when I find you... admirable.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Frank Capra's American Dream (1997) (TV)See more »
Soundtrack:
Onward Christian SoldiersSee more »

FAQ

Is 'The Bitter Tea of General Yen' based on a book?
Was Megan in love with Yen?
How does the movie end?
See more »
56 out of 77 people found the following review useful.
A Tour de Force For Mr. Asther, 28 February 2002
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA

A young missionary finds herself swept into a world of Oriental intrigue & power, after being ‘rescued' by a Chinese warlord.

With THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN, Columbia Pictures & director Frank Capra created a small cinematic gem. Not only does the film boast of superb production values, a first-class script & excellent performances, but it enwraps its audience in a sensual romance which rewards intelligent viewing, while offering a liberal dash of pre-Code sensibilities. Miscegenation, so soon to become absolutely taboo in Hollywood, here is made palatable & attractive, indeed, reasonable, the natural outcome of passions molded by tumultuous times.

Although billed second, Nils Asther takes acting honors in the title role. A matinee idol during silent days, Asther found it difficult to find good roles in talking pictures, hampered by his exotic looks which made him hard to cast to his advantage. But with BITTER TEA he found the role of a lifetime. Although tall & Swedish, he completely inhabits the skin of his Asian character, making the General at once believable & sympathetic. His every movement, shift of the eyes, even the way he chews his food are all part of his persona. Nearly forgotten now, Asther shows with this one performance what he was capable of achieving.

As the missionary captive, Barbara Stanwyck gives the kind of competent, skillful & engaging interpretation which she would bring to all of her roles over the course of several decades. Capra's favorite actress, the dramatic flames she lights are an intriguing counterpoint to the repressed emotions of Asther's Yen.

Loud, brash Walter Connolly, as the General's financial advisor, makes a good contrast to Asther; his plainspoken character often gives voice to what the others are thinking. Lovely Toshi Mori graces the role of the General's unfaithful concubine. A young Richard Loo is her secret lover.

Movie mavens will recognize Clara Blandick in the role of the feisty missionary hostess at the beginning of the film & Willie Fung as the rebel train engineer, both uncredited.

*****************************

While meant to be funny and introduce the plot, the opening scenes are a bit unfair to Western missionaries in China, portraying them as rather fatuous, repressed & gossipy. By in large, missionaries lived lives full of self-sacrifice & devotion. In return, not a few were rewarded with penury and an early grave. That today the ‘Underground Church' in China numbers many millions of Christian believers stands as a witness to the faithfulness of these good people.

The era of the Chinese warlord - such as General Yen in the film - was brief but colorful and extremely violent. The Qing dynasty, China's last, was overthrown in 1911 and the Republic of China was formed. Its despotic president, Yüan Shih-kai, relied more on military force than democratic principles to maintain his authority over China's vast stretches & huge population. Upon his death in 1916, the country was thrown into confusion & chaos, with numerous military officers & powerful bandit kings all using their armies to control districts and even whole provinces, constantly warring with each other amid a swirling sea of ever-changing alliances and bitter feuds. Foreign powers (Soviet Russia, Imperial Japan & Great Britain) only made matters worse by supporting various factions. It was the ordinary Chinese citizen who suffered most, with the depredations of war's brutality & the inevitable famines rained upon them. It was not until 1928, with the capture of Peking by Republican General Chiang Kai-shek, and the reunification of China, that the power of the warlords was finally broken.

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