Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.
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
Ling Tang (Walter Huston) and his extended family live on a peaceful prosperous farm in the south. The Japanese are rampaging in the north and the villagers are unconcerned. The two oldest sons Lao Ta Tan and Lao Er Tan are married. Er's wife Jade (Katharine Hepburn) is willful and not the traditional submissive kind. The youngest son Lao San Tan is unmarried and a free spirit. The only daughter is married to the wealthy Wu Lien who sells Japanese goods in the city. His store is trashed by patriots who burn his goods. The Japanese bomb the city destroying it. Er leaves the farm with his pregnant wife Jade. Ta's wife is raped and killed. Ta and San go off to fight while Wu Lien collaborates.
I'm willing to accept non-Asians playing these roles. It's old Hollywood and Asian actors didn't have a chance back in the day. They did put in some Asian actors in minor speaking roles and that's probably the best that could be hoped for. The most annoying thing about this movie is the odd sounding chinesey English being spoken by everybody. It's a struggle to follow and a grind to listen to. It's not just the flat accent but it's more about the way the dialog is written. The acting is also pretty bad as if the actors were inspired by a Chinese opera. It makes the movie feel unnatural. There is a compelling melodrama of struggle but it's buried by the bad dialog.
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