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      China Doll

      Released Dec 3, 1958 1h 28m War List
      Reviews 25% Audience Score Fewer than 50 Ratings Pilot Cliff Brandon (Victor Mature) flies missions from China in support of troops in the Pacific Theater, but is depressed by his situation and takes to excessive drinking. After one late-night binge, he finds that a young woman named Shu-Jen (Li Hua Li) has been either sold or betrothed to him. Brandon is reluctant to acknowledge the relationship, but he finds himself increasingly eager to return to Shu-Jen. When she becomes pregnant, his priorities change dramatically. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Buy Now

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      Critics Reviews

      View All (1) Critics Reviews
      Dan Callahan Slant Magazine China Doll is a delicate, spare, old man's movie, with quiet attention to character detail. Rated: 3.5/4 May 11, 2007 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (8) audience reviews
      Michael S Take it with a huge grain of salt and enjoy it Rated 3 out of 5 stars 05/12/24 Full Review Audience Member It's a fairly simple narrative in a dramatic environment. It's good Victor Mature vehicle, but no more. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Audience Member There is an epic movie somewhere in the script of China Doll, but audiences will never see it. The beginning of the film betrays the viewer. The film starts off smartly introducing the characters, their environment, and subsequent interactions. China Doll (1958, Frank Borzage) is similar to Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955, Henry King) starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones, but is frankly better than that film as it contains a better opening and middle. The end of the film is its downfall. Rushed, confusing, and clichéd Li Hua Li's single-mother character must navigate war-torn country with babe-in-arms (sounds like its been done before). Speaking of Li Hua Li, she is very good even in the most dreadful of scenes towards the film's end, but shines in the early portions of the film and she matches and out-performs seasoned leading-man Victor Mature in almost every scene. When watching Victor Mature the viewer gets the sense that there is a good actor hiding under that crusty exterior, a good actor who doesn't seem challenged, but Li Hua Li brings Mature out of his haze. The two leads work very well together and the audience must thank veteran director Frank Borzage for that accomplishment as he handled this type of material before. Also, it is interesting to note the inter-racial relationship between the white American male pilot and the female Asian domestic in a 1950s film. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/28/23 Full Review Audience Member ok WWII pic post WWII Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member This is meant to be a simple, enjoyable, humorous, emotional, and entertaining movie. And it fits that description to a "T". It is modest budget yet has a remarkable cast who develop their characters rapidly and well. Vic Mature's acting is better than normal, in my opinion, and Ward Bond, as always is the "glue" and scene stealer that he has been from his very first film. Borzage does not pay attention to aircraft and aerial detail although to the ordinary aircraft layman, the scenes are very realistic. It tells the story of an emotionally deprived captain, (we never truly find out what has caused this although other reviewers have stated it is because of the men he has lost doing his job which is training crews to drop supplies to the US behind enemy lines). Because of his problem, he drinks to keep it at bay and associates himself as a friend to very few people.....Ward Bond as Father Cairns is one. He awakes one morning and eventually, through the help of Father Cairns, finds that he has purchased the services of a young Eurasian girl for three months. His determination to keep her as only a housekeeper dissolves during a bout of malaria when he was delirious. The rest of the story should be saved for your enjoyment. Because that is what it will give you if you take it for what it is. The scenes before the ending have been criticized, but I found them to be exactly what I and any responsible and well trained service man would have done. Without giving the whole ending away, every member of his crew returns home safely "with his dog tags" which is a significant part of the film. Keith Payne Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/17/23 Full Review Audience Member This attempts to present an ideal of romantic love in contrast to the vulgar transactions of the bar hostesses featured in the film's beginning. However in doing so, it directly draws upon incredibly offensive Orientalist stereotypes of submissive womanhood. Li Li Hua's character is all but pimped out by Ellington the semi-Westernized child servant and Li Li Hua's elderly father, both of whom selfishly transact on behalf of her near-mute character. Benevolent Christian patriarchy is the voice of reason personified by Ward Bond, and assimilation is presented as the natural order. But Li Li Hua's performance is a treat on the level of the best Silents, saying more with her eyes than her character is given in the script. Mature does not match her in this film, with a one-sided and largely static character whose stoicism is more virtue than flaw. Even as a product of its time, the scripted drama here does not work that well. Which is unfortunate, given the strong cast and excellent direction. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/26/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis Pilot Cliff Brandon (Victor Mature) flies missions from China in support of troops in the Pacific Theater, but is depressed by his situation and takes to excessive drinking. After one late-night binge, he finds that a young woman named Shu-Jen (Li Hua Li) has been either sold or betrothed to him. Brandon is reluctant to acknowledge the relationship, but he finds himself increasingly eager to return to Shu-Jen. When she becomes pregnant, his priorities change dramatically.
      Director
      Frank Borzage
      Producer
      Frank Borzage
      Screenwriter
      Kitty Buhler
      Production Co
      Batjac Productions, Romina Productions
      Genre
      War
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Dec 3, 1958, Limited
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Sep 16, 2008
      Runtime
      1h 28m
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