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The Good Earth (1937)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  6 August 1937 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 3,346 users  
Reviews: 53 user | 21 critic

The story of a farmer in China: a story of humility and bravery. His father gives Wang Lung a freed slave as wife. By diligence and frugality the two manage to enlarge their property. But ... See full summary »


, (uncredited) , 2 more credits »


(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Tilly Losch ...
Jessie Ralph ...
Soo Yong ...
Elder Son
Roland Lui ...
Younger Son
Suzanna Kim ...
Little Fool
Ching Wah Lee ...
Harold Huber ...
Olaf Hytten ...
William Law ...
Mary Wong ...
Little Bride


The story of a farmer in China: a story of humility and bravery. His father gives Wang Lung a freed slave as wife. By diligence and frugality the two manage to enlarge their property. But then a famine forces them to leave their land and live in the town. However it turns out to be a blessing in disguise for them... Written by Tom Zoerner <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

farmer | famine | slave | money | city | See All (253) »


China . . . . Land of unrest . . . tomorrow they may Starve !


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 August 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La buena tierra  »

Box Office


$2,800,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Because of difficulties with filming in China at the time due to the Nationalist regime, a 500 acre farm in Chatsworth, California was transformed into Chinese farmland. See more »


Unexplained sequence of events or possible error in continuity. Toward the beginning of the film, Farmer Wang walks to the Great House to meet his bride, O-Lan. He is carrying a basket. It appears to be empty. As he enters a market, the farmer declines to buy peaches. We don't see him purchase goods or trade for anything. We don't see him filling the basket. However, the next scene shows him at the door of the house with a full basket. Later, he does buy peaches. At this point, however, we're still not made aware how he has money or silver. See more »


Wang Lung: If you could have a little food, you'd have strength to bring the child. I'll find it. Tomorrow I'll...
O-Lan: When have you had food ?
Wang Lung: There's a thing in me that hurts... and not hunger. But a man has no words.
O-Lan: No words... but I know.
Wang Lung: O-Lan, the earth has forgotten us.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Introduction played with opening credits: The soul of great nation is expressed in the life of its humblest people. In this simple story of a Chinese farmer may be found something of a the soul of china - its humility, its courage, its deep heritage from the past and its vast promise for the future. See more »


Featured in Another Romance of Celluloid (1938) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Classic story given distinguished screen treatment and cast to perfection
27 June 2001 | by (Clifton, Virginia) – See all my reviews

Pearl Buck's story of the ups and downs of a Chinese peasant family is adapted for the screen in a stately and dignified manner. Extreme respect is paid to the characters, who are given ample screen time to mature and develop. The roles are filled by actors who are able to get inside their characters without ever giving the impression that they are `performing,' and their performances are all the richer for it.

The story begins on the wedding day of Wang Lung (Paul Muni), a kind and gentle farmer. His wife, O-Lan (Luise Rainer), bears his sons and quietly encourages him to pursue his dreams, no matter what sacrifices they entail from her. The family lives through a famine and finally achieves prosperity and success. However, with success comes greed and corruption, and soon Wang is buying large plots of land and the Great Hall at which O-Lan was a servant. Eventually, he takes a second wife and breaks ties with all who were once close to him. It takes a tragedy for him to see the error of his ways.

All the while O-Lan stands behind him, supporting every decision he makes in her own tranquil way. Rainer's Oscar winning portrayal, like O-Lan herself, is the glue that holds the story together. Muni, often prone to hamminess in his work, shows restraint here and contributes a beautiful, multifaceted performance. The cinematography, which also received an Oscar, is excellent, as are the special effects. A sequence which involves locusts, invading the crops by the million, is nothing short of unforgettable. It is storytelling in the grandest sense of the word, with strong characterizations, high production values, and an engrossing story which more than justifies `The Good Earth's status as a classic.

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