American pilot Cliff Brandon, fighting the Japanese in China, finds himself the unintentional "owner" of a Chinese housekeeper, Shu-Jen. The unlikely couple falls in love and marries, but not without tragedy brought on by the war.
In China gruff Air Force captain Cliff Brandon wakes up after a night of drinking to discover he has purchased the housekeeping services of comely, young Shu-Jen from her father. Disappointed by Cliff's insistence on staying out late in bars, Shu-Jen leaves for home when Cliff, made aware that she is carrying her child, finds her and marries her in a delightful traditional Chinese ceremony. Happy days are spent as Shu-Jen and her infant daughter join Cliff at a forward base until Cliff, returning from a supply-drop mission, hears the base is under attack by Japanese bombers.Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
Obviously, Frank Borzage's "China Doll" is bound to be a little dated in terms of gender relations and race relations. Nonetheless, its depiction of the romance between a US pilot and a Chinese woman must've been bold for the era (remember that the Hays Code banned the portrayal of interracial relationships). It apparently wasn't the only movie depicting such a relationship, but you have to understand the era in which it got released.
The obvious unpleasant side is that the Chinese woman gets depicted as a lotus flower (a common stereotype). The recent murder of several Asian women in Atlanta has drawn attention to the fetishization of Asian women. As long as we understand the questionable portrayal, we can appreciate the movie. The entire cast puts on fine performances. I recommend the movie.
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