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China Girl (1942)

Approved | | Drama | 9 December 1942 (USA)
In November 1941, American news photographer Johnny 'Bugsy' Williams manages to escape from the Japanese and finds himself back in Burma where he meets the beautiful Miss Haoli Young. ... See full summary »

Director:

Henry Hathaway

Writers:

Ben Hecht, Darryl F. Zanuck (story) (as Melville Crossman)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gene Tierney ... Miss Haoli Young
George Montgomery ... Johnny Williams
Lynn Bari ... Captain Fifi
Victor McLaglen ... Major Bull Weed
Alan Baxter ... Bill Jones
Sig Ruman ... Jarubi
Myron McCormick Myron McCormick ... Shorty McGuire
Robert Blake ... Chandu (as Bobby Blake)
Ann Pennington ... Entertainer
Philip Ahn ... Dr. Young
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Storyline

In November 1941, American news photographer Johnny 'Bugsy' Williams manages to escape from the Japanese and finds himself back in Burma where he meets the beautiful Miss Haoli Young. Johnny is also a flyer and his friend Shorty McGuire is after him to join the Flying Tigers. He could make a small fortune filming the Burma Road but puts off the opportunity to be with Haoli, but she leaves unexpectedly for Kunming where her father runs a school. He has a price on his head and spies working for the Japanese are ready to nab him. When he hears that the Japanese are going to wipe out Kunming, he sets off to rescue Haoli. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

FIGHTING TIGRESS! In her heart...cold hate that defied the terror of the Japs...warm love for a fighting, flying Yank! Here is tempestuous romance amid the flame and violence of today's mighty conflict! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mandarin | Japanese

Release Date:

9 December 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Infierno en la tierra See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,400,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Betty Grable was considered for the Gene Tierney role. See more »

Goofs

The initial titles state that the film starts in November 1941. When Johnny Williams receives a telegram in Mandalay shortly after, it is dated 8-6-41, i.e August 16, 1941. See more »

Connections

References Gunga Din (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Georgia Brown
(uncredited)
Music by Maceo Pinkard and Ben Bernie
Played during the first scene in the hotel bar
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A thoroughly mediocre relic
7 February 2006 | by jburton-3See all my reviews

I'm a big Gene Tierney fan, so I tuned into this one with some eagerness, hoping to see a film that captured pre-WWII tensions in SE Asia and gave the luscious actress some room to shine. And while Gene does have a few moments of brilliance, the rest of the film is a mish-mash of good and bad elements. The whole is somewhat less than satisfying.

My biggest problem is that this film doesn't really know what it wants to be: action movie, spy/war thriller, romance, drama, or anti-Japanese war propaganda. The script tries to be all things to all people and ends up satisfying no one. Plot elements are left hanging unresolved. One line of tough guy dialog is followed by another trying to stir hearts about the plight of the Chinese nationalists. What a mess! George Montgomery is a poor man's Clark Gable, and he's almost a caricature in this film - tough guy only looking out for himself who falls hard for a "dame" caught up in the mess that was China and Burma in 1941. Though Tierney gets top billing, it's really Montgomery's film, and he's not up to carrying it. He's pretty good at the action stuff, but he's lost in the romantic scenes. Plus, his comedic timing is way off. It doesn't help him that the screenwriter gave him some terribly cheesy dialog.

There is little depth to any of the supporting cast, although Robert Blake gives a scene-stealing performance as a young Burmese kid (of all things) that pals around with our hero in Mandalay.

There are some good elements here - some exotic shots that appear to be on location (if they're backlot, they fooled me), and a wonderful set in the hotel in Mandalay. The action scenes often move well. The movie doesn't pull punches, either - we see Chinese civilians being mowed down by Japanese machine guns, and our hero crawls across a ditch of dead bodies in an early escape scene. This is more grim than I expected from a film more than 60 years old, and it's effectively done.

But overall, I can't recommend this film to hardly anyone. There are better films about Japanese brutality in SE Asia during WWII ("Bridge on the River Kwai" or "Objective, Burma") and certainly better films for Tierney fans (my recs - "Laura", "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", and "Leave Her to Heaven"). Give this one a pass and consign it to the history books.


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