California, 1870s. The cowboy Lincoln 'Linc' Bartlett finds out there's a slave auction of Chinese women in San Francisco and he intervenes and purchases the Chinese Kim Sung from the ... See full summary »
California, 1870s. The cowboy Lincoln 'Linc' Bartlett finds out there's a slave auction of Chinese women in San Francisco and he intervenes and purchases the Chinese Kim Sung from the auction with the intent of setting her free. But it doesn't occur to Linc that setting her free isn't enough. Where is she going to go? Kim doesn't speak English and she's just going to be exploited by somebody else. Linc takes Kim home to serve as a housekeeper. Ma Bartlett Linc's mother, is not happy that a Chinese girl is living in her home, and even less happy when Kim and her son fall in love. Their affair also arouses the jealousy of Cheng Lu, a Chinese immigrant. Written by
Nobu McCarthy's knee-length white dress might have looked stylish in 1960 when the film was made, but would have been totally inappropriate and unacceptable in the 1870's time frame in which the film is taking place. See more »
This is NOT a typical western---and not just when it comes to the plot.
This is one of the strangest westerns I can recall--and for many reasons. First, the cast is odd. Jack Lord is the star and his friend is played by none other than Mel Tormé! It's also interesting that a Hawaiian of Japanese ancestry (James Shigeta) would play a Chinese man. And, the leading 'Chinese' lady in the film (Nobu McCarthy) was Japanese. Second, the plot is just odd...very, very odd. The film begins with a slave auction in California circa 1870 (give or take). When Linc Bartlett learns about this, he's appalled. He's even more upset to see a poor girl who is obviously very humiliated being stripped and sold. He steps in and buys the girl--intending to set her free. However, what happens next is completely unforeseen. I'd say more but it's just something you should probably see for yourself.
To me, this film was quite enjoyable but was also intended less as a history lesson and more a metaphor for the changing civil right atmosphere in the US in 1960. Still, it's pretty good--and quite interesting. One of Lord's few starring roles before vaulting to super-star status with "Hawaii Five-O".
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