6.8/10
4,424
50 user 15 critic

55 Days at Peking (1963)

Unrated | | Action, Drama, History | 6 May 1963 (UK)
During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion against foreigners in China, U.S. Marine Major Matt Lewis, aided by British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson, devises a strategy to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force arrives.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(additional dialogue), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

El Cid (1961)
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The fabled Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz (a.k.a. El Cid) overcomes a family vendetta and court intrigue to defend Christian Spain against the Moors.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Raf Vallone
Khartoum (1966)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In the Sudan, in 1884-85, Egyptian forces led by a British general defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim army led by a religious fanatic, the Mahdi.

Directors: Basil Dearden, Eliot Elisofon
Stars: Charlton Heston, Laurence Olivier, Richard Johnson
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The death of Marcus Aurelius leads to a succession crisis, in which the deceased emperor's son, Commodus, demonstrates that he is unwilling to let anything undermine his claim to the Roman Empire.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness
The War Lord (1965)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A knight in the service of a duke goes to a coastal villiage where an earlier attempt to build a defensive castle has failed. He begins to rebuild the duke's authority in the face of the ... See full summary »

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: Charlton Heston, Richard Boone, Rosemary Forsyth
Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A disgraced merchant marine officer elects to stay aboard his sinking cargo ship in order to prove the vessel was deliberately scuttled and, as a result, vindicate his good name.

Director: Michael Anderson
Stars: Gary Cooper, Charlton Heston, Michael Redgrave
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The life of Jesus Christ.

Directors: George Stevens, David Lean, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Max von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Charlton Heston
Drama | War | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Major Kirby leads The Wildcats squadron into the historic WWII battle of Guadalcanal.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Don Taylor
Zulu Dawn (1979)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A dramatization of the Battle of Isandlwana, where the British Army met its match against the Zulu nation.

Director: Douglas Hickox
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Simon Ward, Denholm Elliott
Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The Leiningen South American cocoa plantation is threatened by a 2-mile-wide, 20-mile-long column of army ants.

Director: Byron Haskin
Stars: Charlton Heston, Eleanor Parker, Abraham Sofaer
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Charlton Heston, Rex Harrison, Diane Cilento
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

King Arthur's rule is threatened by the adulterous love between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, a relationship the king's enemies hope to exploit.

Director: Richard Thorpe
Stars: Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer
King of Kings (1961)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The life of Jesus Christ.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Maj. Matt Lewis
...
Baroness Natalie Ivanoff
...
Sir Arthur Robertson
...
...
Sgt. Harry
...
Father de Bearn
...
Gen. Jung-Lu
...
Prince Tuan
...
Baron Sergei Ivanoff
Philippe Leroy ...
Julliard
...
Dr. Steinfeldt
...
Lady Sarah Robertson
Massimo Serato ...
Garibaldi
Jacques Sernas ...
Maj. Bobrinski
Jerome Thor ...
Capt. Andy Marshall
Edit

Storyline

Diplomats, soldiers and other representatives of a dozen nations fend off the siege of the International Compound in Peking during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. The disparate interests unite for survival despite competing factions, overwhelming odds, delayed relief and tacit support of the Boxers by the Empress of China and her generals. Written by Martin H. Booda <booda@datasync.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A handful of men and women held out against the frenzied hordes of bloodthirsty fanatics!

Genres:

Action | Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 May 1963 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Fifty Five Days at Peking  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$17,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Samuel Bronston constructed a set representing turn-of-the-century Peking in Madrid at a cost of $900,000. See more »

Goofs

When Maj. Lewis, Robinson and Shiba sneak out to destroy the arsenal during the Chinese victory ceremony, when Shiba runs up the earthwork of the arsenal the ground flexes, revealing it to be hollow. See more »

Quotes

Lady Sarah Robertson: [Unannounced, entering her husband's study] I'm sorry, Arthur. Are you busy?
Sir Arthur Robertson: Of course I am. I *always* am.
Lady Sarah Robertson: Busier than usual? Or just busy?
Sir Arthur Robertson: Both.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

So Little Time
(The Peking Theme)
Recorded by Andy Williams on CBS Records
Words by Paul Francis Webster
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Spectacular and Enjoyable Epic
29 April 2005 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

The fifties and early sixties were the golden age of the large-scale historical epic. Most of these dealt with either Biblical, Classical or Mediaeval history, but there was also a fashion for making movies on a similar epic scale dealing with more recent historical events. Many of these dealt with some aspect of European colonialism or with relations between Westerners and the inhabitants of some other part of the globe, such as "Bridge on the River Kwai", "Lawrence of Arabia", "Khartoum" or "Fifty-Five Days at Peking" which relates, from a Western viewpoint, the story of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion. My thanks are due to T R P Dean for his helpful review setting out the historical background to this event.

The film narrates the story of how the foreign residents of the Legation Quarter of Peking (it was obviously not the fashion to call it "Beijing" in 1963) managed to hold out for a siege of nearly two months in the summer of 1900 before being relieved by a multi-national expeditionary force. The main characters on the Western side are Major Lewis, the commander of the small detachment of American marines in Peking, and Sir Arthur Robertson, the British ambassador. The main characters on the Chinese side, although we see less of that side, are the Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi and her counsellors, the devious and anti-foreigner Prince Tuan and the more liberal General Jung-Lu, who favours rapprochement with the foreigners.

There were a few things about the film that I did not like. Like a number of others, I felt that it would have been an improvement if the leading Chinese characters had not been portrayed by Western actors. I do not hold to any principle of political correctness that states that a character should not be portrayed by an actor of a different nationality, but in this particular case I felt that Chinese actors would have been more convincing. The action in the second half of the film tended to drag a bit, especially the episode where the Westerners make a raid to destroy the Boxers' arsenal. The decision to add some love-interest in the form of a romance between Lewis and a Russian princess was definitely a mistake. Charlton Heston was generally fine as an action hero but less convincing, as here, as a romantic one. Ava Gardner's performance as Princess Natasha was very much below par; there is little passion in the scenes between her and Heston.

I do not, however, agree with the criticism that the film should have showed more of the historic background to the Boxer Rebellion. The aim was to make an epic adventure story about one particular episode during that rebellion; to have attempted to explore the complexities of Chinese politics during the years leading up to it would have resulted in a very lengthy and tedious film, especially if the filmmakers had tried to include reference to events as remote in time as the Opium Wars, as some have suggested. In the main, that aim was a successful one. At the centre of the film are two fine contributions, particularly from David Niven as Robertson. Robertson is the Westerners' equivalent of Jung-Lu, a liberal by the standards of his period who (unlike many of the other Europeans) hopes to avoid war by taking a conciliatory attitude towards the Chinese. When war comes, he is forced to look inside himself to find reserves of courage and stoicism. Apart from his scenes with Gardner, Heston is also good as Lewis, the tough man of action. Although he is a very different character from Robertson, the two men discover a respect for each other as the crisis brings them together. The spectacular action scenes were mostly well done, and the costumes and architecture of this period of Chinese history were reproduced on a grand scale. Despite a few faults, this was a film that I enjoyed. 7/10


25 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
One other fascinating historical note about this film mstytz
first hollywood kung fu scene mike-2620
a paraguayan in this film manuelcuenca15
Russian Marines Marching Song? zbojnik13
Airing on TCM - June 23, 2010 admrnelson
DVD Available mallyapplegate
Discuss 55 Days at Peking (1963) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?