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May 1995, Week 5


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Gene Stavis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 28 May 1995 12:34:24 -0700
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WAsn't there a film in the 40s about an Englishwoman held captive
by a Chinese warlord that created a stir because it suggested a
physical attraction between the the characters?
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You are undoubtedly thinking of Frank Capra's 1932 "The Bitter Tea of General
Yen" starring Barbara Stanwyck and Sweidsh actor Nils Asther (!) as the
Chinese warlord! (This was Capra's answer to the exoticism of Von Sternberg
and he was deeply disappointed that it didn't win him an Oscar. It was the
first film to play the Radio City Music Hall.)
There is also a sub-plot in Von Sternberg's "Shanghai Express" and his later
"Shanghai Gesture" -- both Oriental/white situations.
In this context, don't overlook the spate of "blacks passing for white" films
that appeared in the late forties and early fifties. I am thinking in
particular of "Lost Boundaries" and "Pinky". While interracial romances were
only a by-product of these films, the issue was central to the plots.
Gene Stavis, School of Visual Arts -- NYC
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