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||IMDB Rating: 5.8/10 from 277 votes
||Release: 3 December 1958 (USA) /
||Genre: Drama, Romance, War
||Director: Frank Borzage,
||Stars: Ann McCrea, Ann Paige, Bob Mathias, Danny Chang, Denver Pyle, Don 'Red' Barry, Elaine Devry, Johnny Desmond, Ken Perry, Li Hua Li, Steve Mitchell, Stuart Whitman, Tige Andrews, Victor Mature, Ward Bond
||Synopsis: 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 protected]>
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Watch China Doll - Alternative Versions.
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** 'China Doll' marked Frank Borzage's
return to film after being 'blacklisted' for ten years, and for a
modestly-budgeted film, it is a nifty war romance.
Cliff Brandon (Victor Mature) is a war-weary veteran pilot, assigned to
airlifting supplies and training aircrews, in WWII China. To co-pilot
Phil Gates (Olympian Bob Mathias), and his new crew (including singer
Johnny Desmond, and rising actors Stuart Whitman and Tige Andrews), he
is an abrupt and by-the-book nag (he tells them, "It's my job to get
your dogtags back to the States...hopefully, with you still in them!"),
but his coldness comes from losing too many men.
One night, as Brandon is drunkenly stumbling home, an old Chinese
gentleman begs him for money, mentioning a girl. The pilot assumes the
man is pimping, and hands him a wad of bills. Unknown to Brandon, the
man was actually 'selling' his daughter, and Brandon now had a 'bride'.
The girl, Shu-Jen (played by newcomer Li Li Hua), accepts her new role
with resignation, but as Brandon sobers up, he is shocked by what he
has done. He attempts to rid himself of his 'bride', but discovers he
cannot, 'honourably'. For three months, the American will have to live
with the Chinese girl, until the 'debt' is paid.
There is a lot of humour as the months pass, and the pair start
realizing their feelings. Events take a melodramatic turn, however,
when the pilot suffers from a relapse of malaria; Shu-Jen undresses
him, then tries to provide warmth by covering him with her body.
Delirious, and racked with fever, he is aroused, sexually, and he
'takes' her, resulting in her pregnancy!
What prevents this scene from becoming tawdry are the performances of
the leads, the following day; Mature conveys such sincerity and
awkwardness that you know that he respects the girl, and will not take
the night's passion lightly. Li Li Hua, barely speaking English, is a
wonder, conveying the nuances of the innocent girl's love by her eyes,
her smile, and her posture. The pair have a chemistry that makes the
scene, and the entire film work.
Without giving away the ending, let me say that a LOT happens after
'the night', and the film integrates the war quite effectively into the
story, building to a climax and resolution that might surprise you!
This isn't a movie that appears on TV frequently, and is not available
to buy, but if you get an opportunity to see it, check it out...This is
a VERY good little film!
Tags for China Doll Full Movie
, Ann Paige
, Bob Mathias
, Danny Chang
, Denver Pyle
, Don 'Red' Barry
, Elaine Devry
, Johnny Desmond
, Ken Perry
, Li Hua Li
, Steve Mitchell
, Stuart Whitman
, Tige Andrews
, Victor Mature
, Ward Bond
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