The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1932) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The American missionary Megan Davis arrives in Shanghai during the Chinese Civil War to marry the missionary Dr. Robert Strife. However, Robert postpones their wedding to rescue some orphans in an orphanage in Chapei section that is burning in the middle of a battlefield. While returning to Shanghai with the children, they are separated in the crowd, Megan is hit in the head and knocked out, but is saved by General Yen and brought by train to his palace. As the days go by, the General's mistress Mah-Li becomes close to Megan and when she is accused of betrayal for giving classified information to the enemies, Megan asks for her life. The cruel General Yen falls in love for the naive and pure Megan and accepts her request to spare the life of Mah-Li against the will of his financial advisor Jones. Meanwhile Megan feels attracted by the powerful and gentle General Yen, but resists to his flirtation. When Mah-Li betrays General Yen and destroys his empire, Megan realizes that to be able to do good works, one has to have wisdom and decides to stay with him while the General drinks his bitter last tea.

  • Megan Davis is a head strong and independent young woman who has traveled to China to marry her fiancé, missionary Robert Strike. Before they can be married, they set off to rescue a group of orphans only to be separated in the war torn countryside. Megan is rescued by a Chinese warlord General Yen and taken to safety at his palace. Over the course of the next week - she can't leave because of the ongoing turmoil - General Yen tries to charm her and achieves some success. After he orders the death of one of his concubines, Mah-Li, Megan jumps to her defense only to have her betray them. Defeated and with his army deserting him, Lee proceeds to his honorable end.

  • Megan Davis, a young American, arrives in Shanghai during the Chinese Civil War in order to marry a missionary. She is separated from her fiancé and rescued by General Yen. At his palace, she defends Mah-Li, Yen's mistress, who is suspected of giving secrets to the enemy. Idealistic Megan offers to answer for Mah-Li's actions if her life is spared. Yen knows that Mah-Li will not change, but, motivated by a calm, fatalistic philosophy, and by a growing love for Megan, he agrees. Mah-Li does betray him, and he is ruined. Megan, her ideals as shattered as the world around her, offers herself willingly to Yen.

  • A Chinese warlord and an engaged Christian missionary fall in love.


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