This 1963 Technicolor/Technirama epic movie deals with events leading up to the Boxer Rebellion of 1898 to 1901 though Wiki claims this picture focused specifically on 1900. For those who don't know the Boxer Rebellion was an attempt by some Chinese to expel from their country the foreign imperialists as well as Christianity. Note that I am giving an incredibly short explanation on a complex historical matter but don't want to turn this into a History lesson.
Charlton Heston is the leading man (the main military man for the Americans) opposite love interest, Ava Gardner (a baroness in the wrong place at the wrong time), and later
on Heston would claim she was difficult to work with per her unprofessional attitude.
The tale takes on a pressure cooker feel as various embassies defend themselves against the Boxers while awaiting a relief force from the Eight-Nation Alliance. There are several subplots along the main story and there's a lovable guilty pleasures melodrama feel to it all.
Also starring David Niven (as the British ambassador), John Ireland (as Sergeant Harry) and Flora Robson (as the Dowager Empress).
The film received two Academy Award nominations for Dimitri Tiomkin (Best Song and Original Music Score). Some of the music arguably borders on being jingoistic.
That said, the musical scores were well done and impressive to suit the epic scope.
This film is also the first known appearance of future martial arts film star Yuen Siu Tien (uncredited though).
Graded for its decade not by the standards of today. Old school intermissions, epilogues and forewards to be expected. People extremely sensitive to Eurocentric/American style films may take offense at how the Asians were portrayed.
STORY/PLOTTING/EDITING: B to B plus (includes juggling a large ensemble); CHARACTERS/DIALOGUE: B; CINEMATOGRAPHY: B to B plus; EPIC SCOPE FEEL: B plus to A minus; HISTORICAL AUTHENTICITY: B minus; SOUND/MUSIC: B plus; OVERALL GRADE: B to B plus; WHEN WATCHED: October 2012.
SPOILERS: Imperialistic question in which the Chinese dowager empress and her Boxer servants are seen as the evil ones. I doubt it would be a politically correct film today but if that doesn't bother you a lot it's a good film.
Racism is mentioned as something that just has to be dealt with (like the "half breed" child who doesn't fit into either world) and it's too bad if you're in the wrong group but in its defense that's how most people thought back around the time of the Boxer Rebellion who were white, I suspect. Historians mention we should not bring our times to the past and stay objective so again if this type of stuff bothers you skip the film.
About the only time one asks about whether they should be here or not is when the wife of Niven asks what are we doing here after a "tragic" moment when one of their children dies.
Wiki claims the failure of the Boxers in this instant foreshadowed the fall of the Qing Dynasty.