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Edward L. Cahn
In a hill city of war-torn China, the American mission hospital is run by Dr. Gray Thompson and Dr. Sara Durand, who secretly loves him. Then Gray comes back from the USA with new equipment ...and new wife Louise, who is jealous of Sara, shows herself a coward in the first Japanese air raid, and wants to take Gray back to the States. Others have similar troubles; and Japanese prisoner Colonel Yasuda manipulates them for his own ends. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Japanese used no Airborne troops in China during World War II. They only had three battalions of para-marines that were used in Indochina (Southeast Asia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, etc.) on a very limited basis as airborne troops; but did participate in several landings. See more »
One of the most popular American authors of the 20th Century was Pearl S. Buck. A daughter of Presbyterian missionaries in China she developed a real love for the people there and her novels beginning with The Good Earth popularized China and its people in the USA.
Though her work remained popular, Buck never equaled what she did in The Good Earth as literature. She also never took note of other trends developing in China and she became quite the apologist for the Kuomintang government of Chiang Kai-shek with both its strengths and weaknesses.
Indirectly Buck was one of the people responsible for the Red Scare and the great question of who lost China in the USA as if it was our's to lose. Her work so popularized the Chinese here that when China went Communist in 1949, the shock was so great that it had to be some kind of conspiracy at work. So we went hunting for the conspirators.
Randolph Scott and Ruth Warrick are the kind of medical missionaries Buck idealized. Ruth's crushing on Randy real bad, but he can't see her except as a work partner. As the film opens he's off in America trying to get better equipment for the mission. Scott brings back a society wife in Ellen Drew also and the hostility between the two women develops immediately. Very similar to the plot line in The Good Earth where Paul Muni takes a second wife, a kind of Chinese trophy wife.
Meanwhile guerrilla leader Anthony Quinn brings a wounded Japanese Colonel played by Richard Loo to the mission. He wants him healed so he can be tried for war crime atrocities, a very early mention of that concept.
Loo made a career in playing nasty Japanese folks during World War II and after. Played them all with a Fu Manchu kind of sneer. He's a shrewd article though as he works on the jealousies of both Drew and Korean doctor Philip Ahn who's crushing out himself on Carol Thurston who has eyes for Quinn.
Romance, jealousy, and war are the hallmarks of China Sky. This story set in a remote corner of western China is a bit much to believe. Spoiled society brat that she is, the viewer is going to have a lot of trouble with Drew's pouting about the fact that this little village ain't Park Avenue. Was she that dumb that she didn't know what she was getting into?
Today we could never get away with casting occidental types like Anthony Quinn and Carol Thurston as Chinese even though both give fine performances. Quinn especially. Quinn, Jose Ferrer, and J. Carrol Naish probably played more ethnic types than any other players in film history.
War of some kind was a factor in China from the overthrow of the Manchu Dynasty in 1911 until the Communists won in 1949. The issues are very complex and a film like China Sky isn't the venue for a discussion of same.
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