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Dragon Seed (1944)

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The lives of a small Chinese village are turned Upside down when the Japanese invade it. And heroic young Chinese woman leads her fellow villagers in an uprising against Japanese Invaders.

Writers:

Pearl S. Buck (novel), Marguerite Roberts (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Katharine Hepburn ... Jade Tan
Walter Huston ... Ling Tan
Aline MacMahon ... Ling Tan's Wife
Akim Tamiroff ... Wu Lien
Turhan Bey ... Lao Er Tan - Middle Son
Hurd Hatfield ... Lao San Tan - Youngest Son
J. Carrol Naish ... Japanese Kitchen Overseer
Agnes Moorehead ... Third Cousin's Wife
Henry Travers ... Third Cousin
Robert Bice ... Lao Ta Tan - Eldest Son
Robert Lewis ... Capt. Sato
Frances Rafferty ... Orchid Tan - Lao Ta's Wife
Jacqueline deWit ... Wu Lien's Wife
Clarence Lung Clarence Lung ... Fourth Cousin
Paul E. Burns ... Shen - Neighbor
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Storyline

Ling Tang and his family live on his prosperous farm in rural Southern China and have not yet felt the impact of the Japanese invasion in the North. Tang's two oldest sons, Lao Ta Tan and Lao Er Tan are married and hard working while youngest son Lao San Tan remains a free spirit. Er's wife Jade is also willfully unconventional and desires to exercises her literacy skills by reading books, a most unfeminine practice in 1930's China. Tang's only daughter is married to Wu Lien, a city merchant who profits from selling Japanese goods. When the dreaded invasion reaches their village, the family is scattered as the sons join the resistance while Wu Lien survives by collaborating with the enemy. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

M-G-M's immortal production of the great novel

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

August 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La estirpe del dragón See more »

Filming Locations:

Calabasas, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length) | (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Donna Reed was tested for the role of Orchid Tan, but even with make up did not look believable enough to be an Asian character. See more »

Quotes

Ling Tan: How can you dig such a thing without help? The earth is stubborn.
Ling Tan's Wife: Heaven gave me the thought. Heaven will provide the help. The shovel is there.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Lost L.A.: Dream Factory (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Chee Lai
(uncredited)
Composer unknown
Sung by Eugene Dorian and Wong Artarne as part of the score
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Tasteful version of Pearl Buck story...offbeat casting is intriguing...
6 April 2007 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

It may be disconcerting to see blue-eyed Caucasian actors playing Orientals, but once this initial distraction is over, the story of DRAGON SEED takes over and it's an engrossing one. Film's chief flaw is the fact that Pearl Buck's story is overlong--and so is the film.

Chinese villagers have to flee the enemy, Japanese soldiers, during the 1930s, and WALTER HUSTON and ALINE MacMAHON are the sturdy head of a family that includes daughter KATHARINE HEPBURN, as Jade. None of the three principals are particularly convincing in their Oriental make-up, but it's still fascinating to watch them perform.

HURD HATFIELD, TURHAN BEY, AKIM TAMIROFF, JACQUELINE DeWIT and HENRY TRAVERS are further examples of offbeat casting, but the grim story of survival of the fittest under cruel exploitation by the enemy is well crafted and always interesting to follow.

The film is photographed in meticulous B&W, crisply produced in the handsome MGM manner--with main attention going to Huston and MacMahon who do nicely in the leading roles. Hepburn, thankfully, is less mannered and less on display than usual. One of the most interesting scenes involves her decision to poison her brother-in-law during a banquet at his "mansion".

Summing up: Admirers of other Pearl Buck works (like THE GOOD EARTH) should find this unusual drama well worth watching. MGM should be commended for producing a very tasteful version of the novel. Story ends on a fever pitch with a graphic simulation of "the scorched earth policy" as practiced by the Chinese villagers.


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