The most sophisticated of Sun's silent melodramas for the United Photoplay (Lianhua) company is the one least influenced by von Sternberg's Dietrich films. Mrs Ye (Ruan, extraordinary as ever) is a village wife pretty enough to catch the eye of passing city slickers. When her fisherman husband dies in a clash between regional warlords, she decamps with her daughter Zhu'er (Li) and neighbours to Shanghai, where she tries to re-establish their cottage industry making handcrafted toys. But times are tough. Modern mechanical toys are being imported in bulk, and most buyers aren't patriotic enough to think of buying local products as a priority. And then, in 1932, the Japanese shell Shanghai. Zhu'er is one of the many casualties, and Mrs Ye is last seen hysterically trying to warn middle-class shoppers on the Nanking Road of further impending disasters. The film's urgent topicality speaks volumes about the situation in Shanghai at the time, but it's Ruan's performance that raises it to greatness.