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The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)



Reviews and Comments

Barbara Stanwyck, in attempting to rescue children from the brutality of civil war in Shanghai, gets rescued/kidnapped by General Yen, a power hungry leader. That's the set-up for this human drama by director Frank Capra who, by this point, had not yet asserted his greatness with It Happened One Night and the parade of classics that would follow.

Eastern and Western philosophies collide, as do the characters. Stanwyck wants to return to her fiance in Shanghai, but could it be that in spite of General Yen's heartless brutality, she's falling in love with him? The tension between the characters keeps this movie going, and there are at least two impressive speeches that trigger thought. At other times, however, the writing falters; had it not, had the film been able to explore the issues it covers more deeply, this may have been a classic.