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John M. Stahl
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
Has spare, beautiful moments, with the horrors of war vividly portrayed
When hard-working China is attacked by the power-hungry Japanese, a pre-feminist Chinese woman struggles with her family for survival; eventually she and her husband become fighters in the Resistance and help to influence their family and fellow villagers to join them. Hollywood product, with intentions that seem sincere, adapted from a Pearl Buck novel and starring...Katharine Hepburn? Actually, Kate is not flossy or "regal" here; she's nobody's fool and probably knows she's miscast, but her Asian make-up is commendable and she tries (not in vain) to find a character. In support, Walter Huston and Aline MacMahon, as Hepburn's Old World in-laws, are excellent. The movie has beautiful cinematography and absorbing passages, but its length is self-defeating and there are some howlers in the script and in much of the casting. Not a hit at the box-office, but by this time people were so used to Hepburn's hit-or-miss choices that it didn't hurt her. **1/2 from ****
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