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.
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Franklin J. Schaffner
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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 <email@example.com>
The film, which was shot in Spain, needed hundreds of Chinese extras, and the company sent scouts throughout Spain and the rest of Europe to hire as many Asiatic-looking actors as they could find. The casting web in 1962 reached as far as London, Lyon and Marseilles, so the result was that many Chinese restaurants in those cities closed for the summer 1962 during filming because the restaurant staff - often including the restaurant's owners - was hired away by the film company. The company hired so many that for several months there was scarcely a Chinese restaurant to be found open in Spain and those 3 other cities. See more »
When the flags are shown being raised over the legations at the beginning of the film, the US flag shown has 43 stars. That flag was in use for only one year, 1890-91. By 1900, the year of the Boxer Rebellion, two more states had been added, the last being Utah in 1896, and thus also two more stars. See more »
Maj. Matt Lewis:
He's a good soldier when he knows what he's fighting for.
Sir Arthur Robertson:
It's easy when it's something you can see; a wall, a hill, a river, but how can you explain to them when it's for a principle.
Maj. Matt Lewis:
You can't. Not here in China, it's too far from home.
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Even in wartimes, a valuable gift placed high enough can work miracles
"55 Days at Peking" is the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China, in the summer of the year 1900, where the violent wind of discontent disturbs the land
Separated from the foreign compound by a mere wall and a gate is the Forbidden City, where, in untouchable isolation, Empress Dowager Tzuprotected by an army of eunuchsearnestly advises Sir Arthur (David Niven) that all foreign residents, including diplomatic personnel, to leave Peking within 24 hours
For the Empress of China (Flora Robson), the situation in Peking cannot be expected to become tranquil because of the projected draught, because of hunger and unrest among the people, because of the merciless demands of the foreign powers Prince Tuan (Robert Helpmann) counsels the empress a reckless adventure, while Gen. Jung-Lu (Leo Genn) counsels prudence and patience
That morning, Sir Arthur came to the Imperial Palace with the truth, the truth that is already known to the German government, and to all other powers, asking the empress to take action against Prince Tuan who commanded the Boxers to drag and kill the German minister
Obviously, the empress rejected Sir Arthur's truth and his protest, informing him that Prince Tuan is her closest and most trusted adviser and she appointed him to head the foreign office The ambassadors realizing now that Prince Tuan succeeded in getting the support of the empress, vote on whether to stay or leave Peking
Niven demonstrated both his capacity and his potential as the English diplomat with no intention of displaying fear of the Boxers, nor of handling the victory to Prince Tuan
Ava Gardner looks beautiful as the Russian Baroness who knows that her sublime trinket sure glitters
Lynne Sue Moon steals the show in her moving portrayal of the abandoned Oriental 12-year-old child in need of love and care and who has been promised, by her father, to be taken home to America Her best scene comes at the climax of the movie when Heston riding out at the head of his Armystops, looks down at the girl, and says, "Here, take my hand." He pulls her upon his horse and they ride together out of Peking
Nicholas Ray's direction and the actors' performance appear sincere enough Those merely looking for an epic spectacle are likely not to get satisfaction from it as a motion picture In spite of its aspirations, "55 Days in Peking" isn't enough to keep us engaged, while, there's no denying, succeeded in entertaining us for a while
31 of 45 people found this review helpful.
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