Review: ‘The Bitter Tea of General Yen’

This picture is a queer story [from a novel by Grace Zaring Stone] of a romance in China between a Chinese and a white woman. A young New England girl arrives in Shanghai to join her sweetheart missionary. They are to be married. China's unceasing civil wars are made the background of the girl's experiences from that point.

This picture is a queer story [from a novel by Grace Zaring Stone] of a romance in China between a Chinese and a white woman. A young New England girl arrives in Shanghai to join her sweetheart missionary. They are to be married. China’s unceasing civil wars are made the background of the girl’s experiences from that point.

The Chinese war lord around whom the plot is built is a curious and rather questionable human composition of a poet, philosopher and bandit. He speaks rather fluent English and essays somewhat dainty American mannerisms, especially in manipulating a handkerchief. Nils Asther plays the role.

After the Chinese general goes on the make for the white girl the picture goes blah. That’s before the film is even half way.

Barbara Stanwyck is the white girl. Pleasant enough and for the first half where she repulses the Chinaman gathers some audience sympathy. Subsequently, where the photography attempts to simulate that the girl, in her dreams, loves the Chinese, the role fails her. Besides which, as a New England missionary type, Stanwyck does not fit.

A fine actor from the legit, Walter Connolly takes the acting honors as the adventurous American financial advisor of General Yen. A kind of a tramp philosopher which Connolly does admirably.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen

Production

Columbia. Director Frank Capra; Producer Frank Capra; Screenplay Edward Paramore; Camera Joseph Walker; Editor Edward Curtis; Music W. Frank Harling

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1933. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Barbara Stanwyck Nils Asther Gavin Gordon Toshia Mori Walter Connolly Richard Loo
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