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55 Days at Peking (1963)

Unrated | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 6 May 1963 (UK)
During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion against foreigners in China, U.S. Marine Major Matt Lewis, aided by British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson, devises a strategy to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force arrives.

Directors:

Nicholas Ray, Guy Green (uncredited)

Writers:

Robert Hamer (additional dialogue), Philip Yordan (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... Maj. Matt Lewis
Ava Gardner ... Baroness Natalie Ivanoff
David Niven ... Sir Arthur Robertson
Flora Robson ... Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi
John Ireland ... Sgt. Harry
Harry Andrews ... Father de Bearn
Leo Genn ... Gen. Jung-Lu
Robert Helpmann ... Prince Tuan
Kurt Kasznar ... Baron Sergei Ivanoff
Philippe Leroy ... Julliard
Paul Lukas ... Dr. Steinfeldt
Elizabeth Sellars ... Lady Sarah Robertson
Massimo Serato ... Garibaldi
Jacques Sernas ... Maj. Bobrinski
Jerome Thor Jerome Thor ... Capt. Andy Marshall
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Storyline

Diplomats, soldiers and other representatives of a dozen nations fend off the siege of the International Compound in Peking during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. The disparate interests unite for survival despite competing factions, overwhelming odds, delayed relief and tacit support of the Boxers by the Empress of China and her generals. Written by Martin H. Booda <booda@datasync.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A handful of men and women held out against the frenzied hordes of bloodthirsty fanatics! See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 May 1963 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Fifty Five Days at Peking See more »

Filming Locations:

Las Matas, Madrid, Spain See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$10,000,000, 31 December 1963
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film, which was shot in Spain, needed hundreds of Chinese extras, and the company sent scouts throughout Spain and the rest of Europe to hire as many Asiatic-looking actors as they could find. The casting web in 1962 reached as far as London, Lyon and Marseilles, so the result was that many Chinese restaurants in those cities closed for the summer 1962 during filming because the restaurant staff - often including the restaurant's owners - was hired away by the film company. The company hired so many that for several months there was scarcely a Chinese restaurant to be found open in Spain and those 3 other cities. See more »

Goofs

At the end, Maj. Lewis is joined by Sir Arthur on top of the wall. Lewis asks Sir Arthur, "What time is it?" Sir Arthur replies, "5:30 a.m." But the sun is directly overhead. See more »

Quotes

Sir Arthur Robertson: I believe, if we all stand united, that the Chinese won't dare mount a serious attack upon the representatives of the 11 great powers. And if we do all stand firm, we may preserve peace in China and, in deed, in the whole world.
See more »

Alternate Versions

To receive a 'U' certificate in the UK (making the film suitable for all ages) significant cuts were made by the BBFC. These included the scene of the priest being drowned by the water-wheel, a shortening of the screaming sounds made by the soldier before his leg amputation, and a removal of all references by Lewis to local women being made available for soldiers. To retain the same certificate all video releases also featured the same cut print. The 2014 DVD features the uncut version and is upgraded to a PG. See more »


Soundtracks

So Little Time
(The Peking Theme)
Recorded by Andy Williams on CBS Records
Words by Paul Francis Webster
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Not A Racist Film
3 June 2003 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

Watching this film in a PC era like today you may find allegations of racism being made against it , but you have to remember that 55 DAYS AT PEKING was made in 1963 . The war in the Pacific had ended less than 20 years earlier and the horrors of the Burma railway and the Bataan death march were still fresh in the memory . Likewise the UN had fought a dirty and bloody war against North Korea and Communist China ten years earlier and 1963 was a year when America started committing ground troops to South Vietnam , so this was an era where many people were worried about " the yellow peril " . One thing you can't really accuse the film of being is geo-nationalist , a coalition featuring diverse nations like Germany , Russia , Italy and France fighting alongside Britain and America ! You can tell this was made a long time ago and if it was made today the Americans would have saved the day single handed while portraying everyone else as total cowards . At least the makers of 55 DAYS AT PEKING had the decency of showing a factual historical event without having to totally rewrite history . I do hope present day Hollywood producers will take note .

My only problem with this film is that the main story is held up with a romantic subplot featuring Charlton Heston who's not exactly romantic material , but this is soon forgiven when the battle scenes arrive and what battle scenes they are . Watching these scenes today I was struck as to how they were achieved by a combination of stuntmen and stuffed dummies . That's what I hate about modern day blockbusters that rely on cartoonish CGI figures running around . It's a lot more fun seeing a couple of man sized dolls falling a couple of hundred feet with dubbed screams on the soundtrack , Hollywood doesn't seem to do this type of action sequence anymore which is a great pity


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