6.8/10
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55 Days at Peking (1963)

Unrated | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 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 »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »
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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
...
Julliard
...
Dr. Steinfeldt
...
Lady Sarah Robertson
...
Garibaldi
...
Maj. Bobrinski
Jerome Thor ...
Capt. Andy Marshall
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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!


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 May 1963 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Fifty Five Days at Peking  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Despite many weeks of campaigning in the Chinese countryside, all units in the relief force arrive in spotless uniforms. See more »

Quotes

Capt. Hoffman: [Just before the Relief Force arrives] Those guns! They aren't Chinese!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Night at the Movies: The Gigantic World of Epics (2009) 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

 
Opening the Open Door
23 February 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

For a while there Samuel Bronston was in a contest with Dino De Laurentis to see who would inherit the mantle of Cecil B. DeMille for producer/director of big budget spectacles. Bronston's 1963 entree is 55 Days in Peking about the Boxer Rebellion and the attack on the foreign compound in Peking.

A Chinese made film on this would certainly tell a different tale. Since the Opium War when Great Britain humiliated China and was granted all kinds of trading concessions a whole flock of other powers came in and nibbled off chunks of China. There were pieces of that country on the coast that were colonies in all, but name. The latest nibbler was Japan who defeated them in the Sino-Japanese War a few years earlier and they are among those in the foreign compound.

A Chinese made film this was not, it is an American produced European made film and the concentration is on the heroic resistance of the foreigners. The Boxers are a secret society who's symbol is the clenched fist. They start the rebellion against the Chinese government, but the government directs them against the foreigners.

One thing that must be remembered. It's common even today to have one's military personnel, a corporal's guard of them, stationed at embassies all over the world. But you can see for yourself that there sure were a lot more troops than a small guard force.

David Niven and Elizabeth Sellars are the British Minister and his wife who lead the resistance. They bring the others in line, including the Americans who have no colonies as such, but sure are looking for some better trading rights. The American minister who is played by director Nicholas Ray is ill so the marine commander Charlton Heston is making the decisions for the USA. Heston's also got some romantic entanglements with Ava Gardner the widowed sister-in-law of the Russian minister Kurt Kaszner.

Another perceptive viewer mentioned that Heston and Gardner were not a great romantic team and waited patiently for the action to begin during the romantic interludes. Heston and Gardner did not get along during the filming of 55 Days at Peking, so Heston says in his autobiography. Got along great with David Niven though, but then again I can't think of anyone who didn't.

One of Heston's men who is killed in the siege is the father of a AmerAsian child who is now an orphan. Some of the best scenes involving the personal issues raised in this film are with Heston and the child. Heston has to confront some of his own feelings there and his character grows as a result.

The outcome of this for the Americans was our Secretary of State John Hay issuing the Open Door declaration, guaranteeing Chinese sovereignty. Sad to say, but with the best of intentions it just wasn't possible. China as we all know worked out her own salvation at a terrible price.


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