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Broken Blossoms (1936)

 -  Drama  -  13 January 1937 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.3/10 from 38 users  
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A Chinese missionary comes to England. He helps a young girl ill-treated by her father. A remake of D. W. Griffith's "Masterpiece".


(as Hans Brahm)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Arthur Margetson ...
C.V. France ...
High Priest
Basil Radford ...
Mr. Reed
Edith Sharpe ...
Mrs. Reed
Ernest Jay ...
Bertha Belmore ...
Gibb McLaughlin ...
Ernest Sefton ...
Donald Calthrop ...
Old Chinaman
Kathleen Harrison ...
Mrs. Lossy
Kenneth Villiers ...
Dorothy Minto ...
Sam Wilkinson ...
Jerry Verno ...
Dolly Haas ...


The spiritual and peace-loving Chen resides in London's Limehouse district, where he teaches and promotes peaceful Buddhist concepts. He is attracted to the beleaguered Lucy Burrows, whose prizefighter father beats her persistently. When Chen rescues Lucy from one of her father's attacks, the boxer sets out to avenge himself on the foreigner. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

remake | based on novel







Release Date:

13 January 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Giglio infranto  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Film debut of Edie Martin. See more »


Referenced in Concerto Macabre: The Films of John Brahm (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

4 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

You have two film choices for this story of The Chink and The Girl: the American silent film masterpiece by DW Griffith, made in 1919, and this British sound remake (1936), starring Dolly Haas in the Lillian Gish role, Emlyn Williams in the Richard Barthelmess role, and Arthur Margetson in the Donald Crisp role.

It was interesting to compare versions, but I'm afraid I didn't think much of this sound version. The direction and script left a lot to be desired -- and proved to me once again that DW Griffith was a pure genius and master of cinema.

I sat there and watched and thought of 1000 things I would have done differently. Poor Dolly seemed adrift and needed firmer direction. Her best scene was the closet scene, but her moment of death was ridiculous -- she woke up after being beaten by Battling Burrows and she died with a song on her lips, embracing her Chinky! Egad! I hope Lillian Gish never saw this film, she probably would have collapsed onto the theater floor with laughter.

Emlyn Williams as Chen didn't talk for the first 15 minutes, even when people in the story addressed him directly, and I was beginning to think he was playing the Chinaman mute, when all of a sudden he started to talk in a crowd scene -- in a thick English accent without a shred of Chinese inflection to his voice at all.

After months of watching Oriental films I couldn't help but grimace at his lame attempts to be Chinese. Richard Barthelmess looked the part much much better! Arthur Margetson probably gave the best performance as Battling Burrows, though some of his moments didn't ring true. For instance, when he was first told about his daughter being with the Chinaman, he laughed uproariously. Then suddenly he got angry. That wasn't in keeping with his criminally insane and evil character. I think Donald Crisp was far far scarier in the silent version, so much so that I often had to turn my head away.

The sound was often muffled on this version (Alpha Video) and I couldn't understand a lot of the words. Thankfully I don't think it much mattered, because I knew the story already, but if this was my first introduction to this story I don't think I'd bother checking out the vastly superior silent masterpiece and that would be a shame! It's definitely an interesting relic and I'm glad I saw it, but now I feel like I want to cleanse myself and watch the Griffith silent all over again.

I gave this Broken Blossoms a 5 out of 10 on the IMDb and I believe that's being generous.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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