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 ...
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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 one unusual western where the subject of racial prejudice takes a front row seat as the topic dealt with. But this was prejudice western style as it deals with the influx of immigrants from the Orient.
Jack Lord, recent veteran of the Civil War is in San Francisco to pick up mining equipment when he reminds himself of what the Civil War was about and buys Nobu McCarthy at a Chinese slave auction. Women were really on a low rank on the scale in that patriarchal culture that the Chinese took with them to America. He frees her, but as James Shigeta points out she's free to go nowhere. Shigeta he's giving a lift back to his home where Shigeta's uncle Benson Fong runs the Chinese laundry.
Of course it ends up with Lord and Shigeta both falling for McCarthy. As for McCarthy is it love she feels for Lord or just overwhelming gratitude to be taken from a life probably spent in some Chinese brothel in San Francisco.
Lord isn't exactly free from anti-Oriental prejudice nor is his mother Josephine Hutchinson, but both come to accept McCarthy. Hutchinson gives a warning to McCarthy similar to what Sidney Poitier got from his movie father Roy Glenn in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner. There are some similarities in those films though I suspect the budget for Walk Like A Dragon might have been part of Kate Hepburn's salary in the other film.
One thing I could not abide though was the casting of Mel Torme as the scripture quoting gunfighter named Deacon. Like Tony Martin in Quincannon, Frontier Scout, Torme looked out of place. In the saloon he looked like he was waiting for a song cue from the piano.
The really heavy handed approach and the lack of production values kept Walk Like A Dragon from a better rating. It is though a sincere effort to explore a topic not very often talked about, especially in westerns.
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