Two members of a wartime travelling theatre group fall in love while slogging through the Chinese hinterlands promoting resistance against the invading Japanese. At war's end, they marry and settle in Shanghai - only to be worn down by poverty and the pervasive sense of defeat. The early scenes of Shi's seminal melodrama, crammed with colourful incidents and underpinned by newsreel inserts, are based on his own experiences in a wartime theatre troupe. The rest of the film, blending romantic realism with a polemic attack on social and moral ills, testifies to the enduring influence of Borzage's melodramas on China's left-leaning directors. Glamor-ously cast, indelibly performed and capably directed, this film launched the Peak Film Industries Corp (aka Kunlun Film Company), one of the two great Shanghai studios of the late 1940s.