6.6/10
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19 user 15 critic

The General Died at Dawn (1936)

Amid the anarchy of China, an American mercenary tangles with a ruthless warlord.

Director:

Lewis Milestone

Writers:

Clifford Odets (screen play), Charles G. Booth (based on a story by)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gary Cooper ... O'Hara
Madeleine Carroll ... Judy Perrie
Akim Tamiroff ... Gen. Yang
Dudley Digges ... Mr. Wu
Porter Hall ... Peter Perrie
William Frawley ... Brighton
J.M. Kerrigan ... Leach
Philip Ahn ... Oxford
Lee Tung Foo Lee Tung Foo ... Mr. Chen (as Lee Tung-Foo)
Leonid Kinskey ... Stewart
Val Duran Val Duran ... Wong
Willie Fung ... Bartender
Hans Fuerberg ... Yang's Military Advisor (as Hans Furberg)
John O'Hara John O'Hara ... Newspaper Reporter on Train
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Storyline

In revolution-torn China, American mercenary O'Hara is entrusted with a perilous mission, to get arms for the helpless authorities in a province ravaged by warlord General Yang. On the train to Shanghai, he meets Judy Perrie, whose father is in league with Yang. Will Judy regret agreeing to lure O'Hara to his doom, and if so, can she make it up to him? The balance of power seesaws to a perilous conclusion. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 October 1936 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Chinese Gold See more »

Filming Locations:

China See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Future novelist John O'Hara made his only acting appearance as a reporter on a train. Twenty-two years later Gary Cooper would star in the screen adaptation of O'Hara's novel Ten North Frederick (1958). See more »

Goofs

While arguing with Peter, Judy slams a book down on the desk. A couple of other books on the corner of the desk disappear in a later scene. See more »

Quotes

Peter Perrie: Well I must say, what a funny world where a man's own daughter don't trust him. I must say.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits all appear on the sails of boats. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Gary Cooper Shows His Gift of Gab
28 August 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The General Died at Dawn, the title itself is enough of a giveaway as to what happens. But the circumstances leading up to the death of Chinese Warlord Akim Tamiroff is quite a tale.

The setting for this film is Kuomintang China where the government of Chiang Kai-Shek doesn't have its writ run very far. Most of China in the Twenties is controlled by various provincial warlords. In fact a case could be made that the Chinese Communists under Mao Tse-tung was viewed as just another warlord. But that's a whole different story.

American adventurer Gary Cooper has a money belt with a whole lot of cash in it entrusted to him by the opposition faction to Akim Tamiroff. He's supposed to make contact with William Frawley in Shanghai who when he's not drinking the hotel bar dry, runs guns.

But Madeleine Carroll and her father Porter Hall who are working for Tamiroff help Tamiroff part Cooper from his money. In the case of Coop, he's real guilty of thinking with his gonads. Then Porter Hall steals the money for himself and the film gets real interesting.

There's one big flaw in the film, occurring when Madeleine Carroll who starts falling for Cooper, refers to him as the "O'Hara Boy." O'Hara is Cooper's character name. Coop was 35 when this film was made and referring to him as 'boy' was ludicrous. But then again a man of 35 should have been on better guard. Film might have worked better if someone younger like Robert Taylor or Tyrone Power played the part of O'Hara. Or Clifford Odets's script should have given Carroll a more elaborate ruse to play on Cooper.

Two major oriental roles were given to occidental players. Casting like Akim Tamiroff as the warlord Yang and Dudley Digges as Mr. Wu who employs Cooper would never happen today. But both do well and come to think of it Tamiroff does have an oriental strain in his ancestry.

One bit of casting really hits home. By all accounts William Frawley was hardly the lovable tightwad Fred Mertz in real life. He was a misanthropic alcoholic in the tradition of W.C.Fields and a mean drunk when he was loaded which was often back then. His role as Brighton, the misanthropic, mean, and thoroughly racist gunrunner was way closer to the real Bill Frawley.

Gary Cooper in The General Died at Dawn was playing a role that Humphrey Bogart would probably have done in the forties. It was always joked that Cooper's dialog consisted of 'yup' and 'nope.' But the way he gets himself, Carroll and Digges out of a real predicament in the end called for quite a gift of gab.


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