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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.


, (uncredited)


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


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father de Bearn
Jerome Thor ...


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


55 Days That Stunned the World! See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 May 1963 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Fifty Five Days at Peking  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$10,000,000, 31 December 1963
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The production was troubled almost from the beginning. It ran into financial troubles, there were conflicts among the cast, and director Nicholas Ray argued so violently with producer Samuel Bronston that he eventually walked off the set and quit the picture, and soon afterward suffered a severe heart attack. Andrew Marton and Guy Green finished directing the picture, uncredited. See more »


The rifle used by the US Marines in the film is a .303 Lee Enfield British rifle. The US .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen rifle would have been correct. See more »


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 »


Featured in Notes from the Blacklist (2011) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Even in wartimes, a valuable gift placed high enough can work miracles…
30 August 2007 | by See all my reviews

"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 Tzu—protected by an army of eunuchs—earnestly 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 Army—stops, 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…

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