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China Doll (1958)

Approved  |   |  Drama, War, Romance  |  3 December 1958 (USA)
5.8
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Ratings: 5.8/10 from 266 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 5 critic

American pilot Cliff Brandon, fighting the Japanese in China, finds himself the unintentional "owner" of a Chinese housekeeper, Shu-Jen. The unlikely couple falls in love and marries, but not without tragedy brought on by the war.

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(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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Title: China Doll (1958)

China Doll (1958) on IMDb 5.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Capt. Cliff Brandon
Li Hua Li ...
Shu-Jen
...
Father Cairns
Bob Mathias ...
Capt. Phil Gates
Johnny Desmond ...
Sgt. Steve Hill
...
Lt. Dan O'Neill
Elaine Devry ...
Alice Nichols (as Elaine Curtis)
Ann McCrea ...
Mona Perkins
Danny Chang ...
Ellington
...
Col. Wiley
...
MSgt. Hal Foster (as Donald Barry)
Tige Andrews ...
Cpl. Carlo Menotti
Steve Mitchell ...
Dave Reisner
Ken Perry ...
Sgt. Ernie Fleming
Ann Paige ...
Sally
Edit

Storyline

In China gruff Air Force captain Cliff Brandon wakes up after a night of drinking to discover he has purchased the housekeeping services of comely, young Shu-Jen from her father. Disappointed by Cliff's insistence on staying out late in bars, Shu-Jen leaves for home when Cliff, made aware that she is carrying her child, finds her and marries her in a delightful traditional Chinese ceremony. Happy days are spent as Shu-Jen and her infant daughter join Cliff at a forward base until Cliff, returning from a supply-drop mission, hears the base is under attack by Japanese bombers. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

china | pilot | captain | air force | asian | See All (22) »

Genres:

Drama | War | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 December 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Borzage's China Doll  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Soundtracks

Suppose
Words and Music by 'By' Dunham (as By Dunham) and Henry Vars
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User Reviews

Very Flawed
12 May 2004 | by (Ottawa) – See all my reviews

"China Doll" is highly flawed Borzage romantic melodrama set in China in the 50s. It stars Victor Mature as an American pilot Cliff Brandon taking part in a war against the Japanese. He falls in love and marries a Chinese housekeeper Shu-Jen, played by Li Li Hua. The continuing exploration of love transcending everything - race, religion, war, death - is competently stated. The film is also very poignant in some passages, as is most of Borzage. However, if you look at it closely, it doesn't really jell.

The expert Borzage scholar John Belton, whom I owe a lot in my understanding of Borzage, ranks "China Doll" with the director's other melodramas - "7th Seventh", "A Farewell to Arms", "Man's Castle", "The Mortal Storm", "Three Comrades", "Till We Meet Again". Belton notes that all these works "contain hostile backgrounds which Borzage's fragile characters ultimately surpass."

But I find "China Doll" significantly problematic and less memorable than those films. I get the feeling that something is missing; much of it is characterized by an air of aimlessness or uncertainty. I didn't get that haunting spark that underlies the luminous lovers in much of Borzage's best work.

There is an apparent misalliance between Mature and Li Li Hua. I find Mature's character to be stiff, callow and frail. His careless demeanor does not contrast well with Hua's innocence or devotion. And ultimately (and regrettably) "China Doll" falls very short of greatness.


14 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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