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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
Many critics consider the 1944 drama,"Dragon Seed" to be an overlong epic that has unconvincing characterizations of Chinese people. It's true that some of American actors in this film don't look Chinese,but a majority of them do. With that said,"Dragon Seed" is one of the best films about World War II. I have ever seen. It contains excellent performances by the entire cast and deals with a part of the war that is rarely mentioned, the Japanese occupation in China in the late 1930's. The film is based on a popular novel by Pearl S. Buck and tells the story of Ling Tan(Walter Huston)and his family of farmers.Tan and his wife(Aline MacMahon)try to keep the ancient Chinese customs alive in their household, but they soon realize that this is impossible. Jade,(Katharine Hepburn)Tan's daughter-in-law and many people in China are finding out ways to protect themselves against Japanese invaders. When the Japanese come, their lives are destroyed forever. The farmers are forced to share most of their land with the invaders,homes and personal belongings are destroyed,the invaders storm into homes and kill people, and people flee to get away from all the chaos. As a viewer,you see a family courageously surviving turmoil the best way that they can. The film is entertaining all the way through. Katharine Hepburn gives one of the greatest and most underrated performances of her career.She should have gotten,at least,an Oscar nomination for it. Walter Huston and Aline MacMahon are equally brilliant as the wise heads of the family. Agnes Moorehead gives a fascinating performance as a nasty in-law,who will do anything to get what she wants. Of course, this film has the usual high MGM production values. I give it a 9 out of 10.
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