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
Filmed in 1943 on the MGM lot in Culver City during the Second World War, the film features an unusual assortment of non-Asian actors with odd accents playing Chinese and Japanese: Russian-born and Stanislavski-trained Akim Tamiroff as Wu Lien; Turhan Bey, Viennese born son of a Turkish father and Czechoslovakian mother as the middle son, Lao Er Tan; New England patrician Katharine Hepburn as his wife; American Aline MacMahon, no longer one of the wisecracking Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), as the wife of Ling Tang; English born Henry Travers (best remembered as Clarence the Angel from It's a Wonderful Life (1946)) as the Third Cousin;" Irish-America J. Carrol Naish as the Japanese Kitchen Overseer; and finally Jewish-American Robert Lewis, co-founder of the Actors Studio and Meryl Streep's teacher at the Yale Drama School as the Japanese Captain Sato. See more »
While surfing through the movie listings trying to pass some time I came across Dragon Seed. I saw the date (1944) and the summary and thought that this would be another war-time morale type movie. That type of film has always been good to watch so I tuned in. I was very surprised. The film had a wonderful story with very good acting even though a bit stoic. I discounted the Chinese makeup and the non-Asian actors so they were not a factor in my enjoyment. The movie went far beyond the standard war era gung-ho film. The feelings of the times and the people came through wonderfully. I would like to see it again to catch subtle things that I know I missed the first time. It was a wonderful way to spend my time.
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