The Bitter Tea of General Yen

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Light years away from the homespun, small-town Capracorn for which the director is best known, this exotic, erotic melodrama is by far his finest achievement. Stanwyck, subtly radiant, is the American missionary in Shanghai who is abducted by a highly sophisticated Chinese warlord (Asther); like the film itself, she is both fascinated and repelled by the prospect of miscegenation. Where Capra's other films are largely stolid, prosaic and talky, this is sensuous and profoundly cinematic, perhaps most notably in a sequence in which Stanwyck dreams of her seduction by a forceful Asther. Odd, but oddly moving.

Release details

Duration: 89 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Frank Capra
Screenwriter: Edward Paramore
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck
Nils Asther
Gavin Gordon
Toshia Mori
Richard Loo
Walter Connolly
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