Banned in Britain! Director Capra’s exotic adventure drops missionary Stanwyck into a chaotic and brutal China, run by dueling warlords and competing Western interests. Evacuated from Shanghai and rescued by General Yen (Swedish silent star Nils Asther is magnetic on screen), Stanwyck finds her Western preconceptions and naive idealism challenged by Yen’s wit, and her defenses completely topple during one of the screen’s most erotically charged dream sequences. –AFI
The most honored and well-liked director of his generation, Sicilian-born Frank Capra graduated from the California Institute of Technology as a Chemical Engineering major. Down on his luck after service during World War I, he bluffed his way into the movie business and learned films from the bottom up, from the film lab to the prop department to the editing department. He settled in as a gagman during the 1920s, and soon became a director specializing in comedy. After a stint with Mack Sennett, Capra moved to Columbia Pictures, where he came into his own as a filmmaker.
Displaying a good feel for drama as well as comedy, and a common touch with which ordinary viewers could resonate, Capra quickly became the star among the tiny studio’s stable of directors. His pictures, starting with American Madness in 1932, displayed themes that audiences regarded as important and uplifting during the worst days of the Great Depression, and Capra, despite the relatively modest budgets with… read more
There's no corn from Capra in this extraordinary slice of pre-Hays Code exotica, an atypical melodrama for a director famed for championing the common man. The story of a missionary kidnapped by a Chinese warlord is graced by lovely production design and cinematography and resembles the movies von Sternberg was making with Dietrich over at Paramount at the same time. And Babs, of course, is her usual wonderful self..
Whoa! Who knew Capra could direct with this kind of Sternbergian erotic intensity? The film powerfully captures Americans' simultaneous fascination and revulsion with the Orient. This theme is most purely and forcefully conveyed by that astonishing dream sequence - the Chinese as Nosferatu / the Chinese as Zorro.
A selection of the best one sheets and more of the great star’s career.
A look at the posters for “Hollywood’s Naughtiest, Bawdiest Year.”
Also: Ruiz in Berkeley, the EU in Chicago and listening to Nina Menkes and Slavoj Žižek.
Bitter Tea Of General Yen represents a visual high water mark for Frank Capra and his cinematographer Joseph Walker. The exotic Chinese setting means they were able to shoot in the style of Josef Von… read review