26 user 12 critic

The Toll of the Sea (1922)

While visiting China, an American man falls in love with a young Chinese woman, but he then has second thoughts about the relationship.


Frances Marion (story)




Complete credited cast:
Anna May Wong ... Lotus Flower
Kenneth Harlan ... Allen Carver
Beatrice Bentley ... Barbara Carver
Priscilla Moran ... Little Allen (as Baby Moran)
Etta Lee Etta Lee ... Gossip
Ming Young Ming Young ... Gossip


When young Lotus Flower sees an unconscious man floating in the water near the seashore, she quickly gets help for him. The man is Allen Carver, an American visiting China. Soon the two have fallen in love, and Carver promises to take her with him when he returns home. But Carver's friends discourage him from doing this, and he returns to the USA alone. By the time the two of them meet again, much has changed, and their reunion proves very trying for them both. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The colors of nature have been PHOTOGRAPHED for the first time in making THE TOLL OF THE SEA A great romantic drama of the Orient. (Print Ad- The Telegraph-Herald, ((Dubuque, Iowa)) 22 April 1923)



Did You Know?


The film's world premiere showing was at the Rialto Theatre, Broadway and 42nd Street, New York, on 26 November 1922. (Evening Telegram, ((New York, NY)) 24 November 1922) See more »


Lotus Flower: We will have what you call in American a-a- - is it a great lark or great sparrow you call those good times in America?
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1985, this film was restored using original negative materials, by Richard Dayton and Pete Comandini of the YCM Laboratories, and Robert Gitt of the UCLA Film and Television Archives, using funds from the AFI/NEA Film Preservation Program. Because the last 3-minute sequence of the Pacific Ocean was missing, it was re-shot using Frances Marion's titles from her scenario and an authentic 2-strip Technicolor camera. The film ran 53 minutes plus about one minute of explanatory information and restoration credits. See more »

User Reviews

A Beautiful Film
4 June 2007 | by MaleejandraSee all my reviews

The Toll of the Sea draws an audience because it was made in the early two strip Technicolor process. The story is about a Chinese girl named Lotus Flower (Anna May Wong) who finds a man dashed upon the rocks by the sea and rescues him. His name is Allen Carver (Kenneth Harlan) and he is an American. He and Lotus Flower fall in love and get married against the warnings that he will leave her for a white woman. Allen has good intentions until some American friends convince him to leave Lotus Flower behind because an inter-racial marriage would never work. The prophesy comes true, and Allen marries childhood sweetheart Elsie (Beatrice Bentley) in America, leaving Lotus Flower with a baby (Priscilla Moran) and a broken heart.

The story is simple, sad, and poetic with some great acting by Wong. Unfortunately, many of her films are lost or unavailable, but she is always impressive in the roles she is given. Thankfully, the Chinese are portrayed sympathetically with very little stereotyping.

The Technicolor is amazing here. We see mostly green and red, but the costuming and settings are strategically designed to utilize those colors. What results is a breath-taking film.

The end of this film is lost, but it was restored by filming the Pacific Ocean with an original Technicolor camera. The title cards make the ending clear and the loss of footage does not detract from the ending's emotional power.

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Release Date:

22 January 1923 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Toll of the Sea See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Technicolor See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (1985 alternate)

Sound Mix:



Color (2-strip Technicolor) (Process Number Two)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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