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Monday, January 27, 2014

China (1943)

In 1941 China, an American profiteer (Alan Ladd) sells oil to both China and its Japanese invaders. But when he hooks up with an American schoolteacher (Loretta Young) and her female Chinese students on the run from the impending Japanese, his "neutrality" will soon evaporate. A combination of wartime propaganda and action movie, John Farrow's CHINA starts off tough and unsentimental but as it approaches the end, it becomes just another jingoistic movie designed to boost the moral of American wartime moviegoers. Ladd has a speech where he tells off the Japanese on why they'll never conquer America that will most likely set your teeth on edge. But with the exception of the three leads (William Bendix as Ladd's sidekick is the third star) and Tala Birell in briefly as a Russian blonde, the rest of the cast are Asian and the Chinese actors are allowed some decent roles instead of the usual stereotypes (the Japanese characters excepted). There's the cold blooded murder of a baby (Irene Tso) and the brutal gang rape of a Chinese girl (Marianne Quon) by the Japanese which must have shocked 1943 audiences. As far as WWII propaganda films go, this is one of the better ones. Arizona subs for China. With Philip Ahn, Victor Sen Yung (THE LETTER), Richard Loo, Iris Wong and Chester Gan.

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