Legendary director John Ford's final film involving seven dedicated missionary women in China circa 1935 trying to protect themselves from the advances of a Mongolian barbaric warlord and his cut-throat gang of warriors.
John Ford weaves three "Judge Priest" stories together to form a good- natured exploration of honour and small-town politics in the South around the turn of the century. Judge William ... See full summary »
Scotland Yard Inspector George Gideon starts his day off on the wrong foot when he gets a traffic-violation ticket from a young police officer. From there, his 'typical day" consists in ... See full summary »
The US Army is under pressure from the desperate relatives of white prisoners of the Comanches to secure their rescue. A cynical and corrupt marshal, Guthrie McCabe, is persuaded by an army... See full summary »
Aboard the freighter Glencairn, the lives of the crew are lived out in fear, loneliness, suspicion and cameraderie. The men smuggle drink and women aboard, fight with each other, spy on ... See full summary »
In a mission in China in 1935, Agatha Andrews is a rigid missionary beset by Mongolian bandits led by Warlord chief Tunga Khan. With her are her assistant Jane Argent, staff members Emma Clark, Miss Russell and Miss Binns, head of the British mission, Charles Pather, a teacher at the mission and his pregnant wife Florrie. When Dr. D.R. Cartwright arrives, she agrees to sacrifice herself to the Tunga Khan in exchange for his letting the ladies go free. Written by
John Ford's swan song is very underrated. Anne Bancroft plays a chain-smoking doctor who has fled the United States (for reasons unknown, unless they were explained during the minute or so I was away to answer the phone) to work at a mission in China. Margaret Leighton plays the head of this mission, a devout Christian who controls her underlings with strict rules. Various troubles ensue, the most prominent being the threat of a cholera epidemic, a raid by Mongolian bandits, and a pregnant woman who is nearing menopause, which makes the birth a very difficult situation. It is the second problem which I mention that takes up most of the plot. The mission has heard stories of these Mongolians in the nearby areas. Leighton is sure that they will never dare attack her mission, by the grace of God and America. But they do, and they keep all the white women hostage after killing off every Chinese person in sight. They believe that they can win a ransom for them. The tough Bancroft bravely opposes them, but she can make no headway by those means. Instead, the leader of the bandits demands sex. In this way, she is able to influence the way the women are treated (especially concerning the birth). The main conflict of the film is between Leighton and Bancroft. It's very 60s, with the progressive, liberated woman fighting against the strict, sexless one. The role of religion is very interesting in the film. It's shocking that Ford, a devout Catholic, would make the headmistress so foolish. It's a very intelligent criticism of the holier-than-thou attitude of some. When death looks imminent, Leighton seems almost excited to become a martyr; and she's willing and ready to take everyone else with her. When Bancroft sees her chance to save the others, Leighton viciously attacks her for being the "whore of Babylon." The final scene is quite excellent. What a great way for the greatest director of all time end his career.
25 of 29 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?