IMDb > 55 Days at Peking (1963)
55 Days at Peking
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55 Days at Peking (1963) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 11% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Robert Hamer (additional dialogue)
Philip Yordan (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for 55 Days at Peking on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
6 May 1963 (UK) See more »
A handful of men and women held out against the frenzied hordes of bloodthirsty fanatics!
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination See more »
Charlton Heston Dies at 84
 (From IMDb News. 6 April 2008)

User Reviews:
Spectacular and Enjoyable Epic See more (50 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Charlton Heston ... Maj. Matt Lewis

Ava Gardner ... Baroness Natalie Ivanoff

David Niven ... Sir Arthur Robertson

Flora Robson ... Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi

John Ireland ... Sgt. Harry

Harry Andrews ... Father de Bearn

Leo Genn ... Gen. Jung-Lu

Robert Helpmann ... Prince Tuan

Kurt Kasznar ... Baron Sergei Ivanoff
Philippe Leroy ... Julliard

Paul Lukas ... Dr. Steinfeldt

Elizabeth Sellars ... Lady Sarah Robertson
Massimo Serato ... Garibaldi
Jacques Sernas ... Maj. Bobrinski
Jerome Thor ... Capt. Andy Marshall
Geoffrey Bayldon ... Smythe
Joseph Fürst ... Capt. Hanselman (as Joseph Furst)

Walter Gotell ... Capt. Hoffman
Jûzô Itami ... Col. Shiba (as Ichizo Itami)
Mervyn Johns ... Clergyman
Alfredo Mayo ... Spanish Minister
Martin Miller ... Hugo Bergmann
Conchita Montes ... Mme Gaumaire
José Nieto ... Italian Minister (as Jose Nieto)

Eric Pohlmann ... Baron von Meck
Aram Stephan ... Gaumaire
Robert Urquhart ... Capt. Hanley
Lynne Sue Moon ... Teresa
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Burt Kwouk ... Old Man (voice)
Lucy Appleby ... Martha (uncredited)
R.S.M. Brittain ... Sergeant Major (uncredited)
Carlos Casaravilla ... Japanese Minister (uncredited)
Michael Chow ... Chiang (uncredited)
Siu Loi Chow ... Court Boxer (uncredited)
Félix Dafauce ... Dutch Minister (uncredited)
Andrea Esterhazy ... Austrian Minister (uncredited)
Andy Ho ... (uncredited)
Dong Kingman ... (uncredited)
Mitchell Kowall ... US Marine (uncredited)
Cheng-Liang Kwan ... Court Boxer (uncredited)
Soong Ling ... (uncredited)
Alfred Lynch ... Gerald (uncredited)

John Moulder-Brown ... (uncredited)
Enzo Musumeci Greco ... (uncredited)

Paul Naschy ... Extra (uncredited)
Nicholas Ray ... US Minister (uncredited)

Milton Reid ... Boxer (uncredited)
Robert Rietty ... Spanish Minister (voice) (uncredited)
Fernando Sancho ... Belgian Minister (uncredited)

Lucille Soong ... Concubine (uncredited)
Mike Steen ... Undetermined Role (uncredited)
Kenji Takaki ... (uncredited)
John A. Tinn ... (uncredited)
Guillermo Vera ... El hombre del carrito (uncredited)
George Wang ... Boxer Chief (uncredited)

Stephen Young ... (uncredited)
Siu Tin Yuen ... Court Boxer (uncredited)

Directed by
Nicholas Ray 
Guy Green (uncredited)
Writing credits
Robert Hamer (additional dialogue)

Philip Yordan (screenplay) and
Bernard Gordon (screenplay)

Ben Barzman  uncredited

Produced by
Samuel Bronston .... producer
Alan Brown .... associate producer
Michal Waszynski .... executive associate producer (as Michael Waszynski)
Original Music by
Dimitri Tiomkin 
Cinematography by
Jack Hildyard (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Robert Lawrence 
Casting by
Maude Spector 
Production Design by
Veniero Colasanti 
John Moore 
Set Decoration by
Veniero Colasanti 
John Moore 
Costume Design by
Veniero Colasanti 
John Moore 
Makeup Department
Grazia De Rossi .... hairdresser (as Grazia Di Rossi)
Mario Van Riel .... makeup artist
José Luis Pérez .... assistant makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
C.O. Erickson .... executive production manager
Jesús Franco .... assistant production manager (uncredited)
Tadeo Villalba .... unit manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Noël Howard .... second unit director (as Noel Howard)
José López Rodero .... assistant director: first unit (as Jose Lopez Rodero)
José María Ochoa .... assistant director: second unit (as Jose Maria Ochoa)
Julio Sempere .... second assistant director (uncredited in original version)
Art Department
Stanley Detlie .... master of properties
Dong Kingman .... title paintings
Julián Martín .... painter (uncredited)
Vicente Sempere Sempere .... assistant set decorator (uncredited)
Sound Department
Milton C. Burrow .... sound effects editor (as Milton Burrow)
David Hildyard .... sound mixer
Gordon K. McCallum .... sound re-recordist
Otto Snel .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Alex Weldon .... special effects
Antonio Baquero .... special effects assistant (uncredited)
Jack Cooper .... additional stunts: England (uncredited)
Terry Yorke .... stunt coordinator (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Manuel Berenguer .... second unit cameraman
Bruno Pasqualini .... supervising electrician
Gerry Fisher .... camera operator (uncredited)
Casting Department
Joe Powell .... extras casting (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Gloria Musetta .... head of wardrobe (as Gloria Mussetta)
Editorial Department
Magdalena Paradell .... assistant to editor
Music Department
Richard C. Harris .... music editor (as Richard Harris)
Dimitri Tiomkin .... conductor
Manuel Emanuel .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Herbert Taylor .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Samuel Bronston .... presenter
Carl Gibson .... supervising technician
James R. Johnson .... technical advisor (as Col. J.R. Johnson D.S.O. O.B.E. M.C.)
Lucie Lichtig .... continuity
Andrew Marton .... director: second unit operations
Miguel Ángel Bermejo .... production assistant (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • Alexandre  hair styles: for Miss Gardner (as Alexandre de Paris)

Additional Details

Also Known As:
154 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System)
Argentina:13 | Australia:G | Finland:K-16 | Germany:12 (DVD rating) | Iceland:12 | Norway:16 | Norway:15 (re-rating) | Portugal:M/12 | Spain:18 | Sweden:15 | UK:U (passed with cuts) | UK:PG (re-rating) (2014) | UK:U (video rating) (1987) (1997) | USA:Unrated | USA:TV-PG (TV Rating) | West Germany:12 (nf)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Charlton Heston's character, Major Matt Lewis, was loosely based on the real-life officer in charge of the marine guard at the US Legation, then Captain, later Lieutenant General, John Twiggs Myers USMC (1871-1952). Myers was in the forefront of some of the toughest fighting in the besieged legations, wounded during the fighting on the Tartar Wall.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When the Chinese army use a large cannon to bombard the legation compound , the little orphaned Chinese girl runs back in the temple she just fled where a large Buddha statue sits to save a little boy. As they run from the temple it blows up and a large rectangular stone comes crashing down behind them but bounces off the ground several times revealing it is a lightweight material not a massive stone.See more »
Baron Sergei Ivanoff:[Clapping sarcastically] Congratulations, Sir Arthur! It seems the British have won another bloodless victory!
US Minister Maxwell:I take it you have now unanimously decided to stay.
Baron Sergei Ivanoff:I shall report in my diary the first vote was nine-to-one, and that in a... friendly spirit it was then decided to make the decision unanimous.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)See more »
So Little TimeSee more »


Who are the Indian cavalry that are the first to lead the relief column at the end of the movie?
Joan Crawford---Was She Suppose to Star in "55 Days"?
Katharine Hepburn----to Star as Empress Tzu Hsi?
See more »
25 out of 35 people found the following review useful.
Spectacular and Enjoyable Epic, 29 April 2005
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England

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

Was the above review useful to you?
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One other fascinating historical note about this film mstytz
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Heart warming ending to films norwell-services
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