Dragon Seed (1944)

Dragon Seed (1944)

Director: Harold S Bucquet, Jack Conway
Starring: Walter Huston, Katharine Hepburn, Aline MacMahon

A family of peasant farmers in rural China struggle with the Japanese occupation.

Almost all the Chinese characters in this movie are white people with their eyes taped back. That alone is enough to turn off most modern viewers. Then there's the dialog, which is rather atrociously convoluted in an effort to portray Oriental exoticism. And that's not all. Because this was made while WWII was ongoing, the portrayal of the Japanese is even worse, as you'd expect from wartime propaganda. However, despite all that, it's actually a pretty good movie, something like Gone With the Wind in China. There are actually some really interesting character dynamics and Walter Huston delivers a fine performance even with the clumsy dialog. There's some good thematic stuff about tradition vs. modernity, pacifism vs. just war, etc. It's definitely not a movie for everyone, but if you can appreciate it for its merits, you'll find it to be worthwhile.