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Dragon Seed (1944)

Passed | | Drama, History, War | August 1944 (USA)
2:55 | Trailer

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The lives of a small Chinese village are turned Upside down when the Japanese invade it. And heroic young Chinese woman leads her fellow villagers in an uprising against Japanese Invaders.


(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ling Tan
Ling Tan's Wife
Wu Lien
Lao Er Tan - Middle Son
Lao San Tan - Youngest Son
Japanese Kitchen Overseer
Third Cousin's Wife
Third Cousin
Lao Ta Tan - Eldest Son
Capt. Sato
Orchid Tan - Lao Ta's Wife
Jacqueline deWit ...
Wu Lien's Wife
Clarence Lung ...
Fourth Cousin
Neighbor Shen


Ling Tang and his family live on his prosperous farm in rural Southern China and have not yet felt the impact of the Japanese invasion in the North. Tang's two oldest sons, Lao Ta Tan and Lao Er Tan are married and hard working while youngest son Lao San Tan remains a free spirit. Er's wife Jade is also willfully unconventional and desires to exercises her literacy skills by reading books, a most unfeminine practice in 1930's China. Tang's only daughter is married to Wu Lien, a city merchant who profits from selling Japanese goods. When the dreaded invasion reaches their village, the family is scattered as the sons join the resistance while Wu Lien survives by collaborating with the enemy. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | History | War


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

August 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les fils du dragon  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(copyright length) | (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"March of the Volunteers" is sung by the resistance workers as they are resting on the Tan estate. The soundtrack has an orchestral version in several other scenes. It was in fact a popular song in China during the period portrayed. Since 1982 it has been officially recognized as the national anthem of the People's Republic of China. See more »


Lao Er Tan - Middle Son: I do not have the words.
Jade Tan: I am not very learned.
Lao Er Tan - Middle Son: Is that why you do not often speak to me?
Jade Tan: Two must speak for understanding.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Katharine Hepburn (1962) See more »


Chee Lai
Composer unknown
Sung by Eugene Dorian and Wong Artarne as part of the score
See more »

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User Reviews

Tasteful version of Pearl Buck story...offbeat casting is intriguing...
6 April 2007 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

It may be disconcerting to see blue-eyed Caucasian actors playing Orientals, but once this initial distraction is over, the story of DRAGON SEED takes over and it's an engrossing one. Film's chief flaw is the fact that Pearl Buck's story is overlong--and so is the film.

Chinese villagers have to flee the enemy, Japanese soldiers, during the 1930s, and WALTER HUSTON and ALINE MacMAHON are the sturdy head of a family that includes daughter KATHARINE HEPBURN, as Jade. None of the three principals are particularly convincing in their Oriental make-up, but it's still fascinating to watch them perform.

HURD HATFIELD, TURHAN BEY, AKIM TAMIROFF, JACQUELINE DeWIT and HENRY TRAVERS are further examples of offbeat casting, but the grim story of survival of the fittest under cruel exploitation by the enemy is well crafted and always interesting to follow.

The film is photographed in meticulous B&W, crisply produced in the handsome MGM manner--with main attention going to Huston and MacMahon who do nicely in the leading roles. Hepburn, thankfully, is less mannered and less on display than usual. One of the most interesting scenes involves her decision to poison her brother-in-law during a banquet at his "mansion".

Summing up: Admirers of other Pearl Buck works (like THE GOOD EARTH) should find this unusual drama well worth watching. MGM should be commended for producing a very tasteful version of the novel. Story ends on a fever pitch with a graphic simulation of "the scorched earth policy" as practiced by the Chinese villagers.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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