Barricade finds Alice Faye without any songs as a refugee trying to flee China and without passport. She's in a heap of trouble, I won't say what exactly, and even American extraterritoriality won't help her out.
I mention that because one of the grievances that the Chinese including the bandits who attack the American mission in this story set deep in the Chinese interior was that particular institution whereby American citizens who committed crimes were tried by American courts set up by our consulates. We were far from the only country doing that however.
Anyway the story opens with her on a train for Shanghai trying to use a hokey Russian accent. The accent intrigues Warner Baxter who's pretty plastered.
Bandits however interrupt the journey and the two of them seek refuge in the American consulate presided over by Charles Winninger. He's the best one in the film and I only wish that a better story was given because I liked his character. He's a widower and a proud member of the consular service, appointed in 1900 by William McKinley. He requested a transfer ten years later and that's the last he was heard from. As Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Hale aptly put it, he's the real forgotten man.
Baxter does all right in a role that someone like Clark Gable would have done in his sleep at MGM. The heroics would have come more natural to Gable than to Baxter as the mission is barricaded and defended against the bandits.
Alice Faye did have one number to sing. Why Alice's song was cut out, God and Zanuck only know. One thing I'm still trying to figure out is when the mission inhabitants take final refuge in the cellar with a trap door, just who was left upstairs to pull the rug over the cellar door?
Barricade had the potential to be a lot better than it was. But sloppy editing and lost faith in the project made 20th Century Fox release a project unfulfilled. Watching Barricade is like eating a badly cooked meal.
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