Dragon Seed (1944)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This lavish, 145-minute cinemadaptation of the Pearl Buck best-seller Dragon Seed was intended by MGM as a followup to the studio's successful film version of Buck's The Good Earth. In true Hollywood fashion, the Chinese protagonists are all played by Caucasian actors, with fascinating if not always convincing results. When a peaceful Chinese village is invaded by the Japanese prior to WW2, the men elect to adopt a peaceful, don't-rock-the-boat attitude towards their conquerors-and it is understood that the women will stoically acquiesce as well. But Jade (Katharine Hepburn), a headstrong young woman, intends to stand up to the Japanese whether her husband Lao Er (Turhan Bey) approves or not. She even goes so far as to learn to read and to handle a weapon, so that she may properly equipped for both psychological and physical combat. Jade's attitude spreads to the rest of the village, convincing even the staunchest of male traditional that the Japanese can be defeated only by offering a strong united front-male and female. Alas, there are a few Quislings in their midst, notably avaricious merchant Wu Lien (Akim Tamiroff), who learns all too late the terrible cost of collaboration. While it seems odd to see so many non-Orientals-Walter Huston, Agnes Moorehead, Hurd Hatfield, J. Carroll Naish-in the major roles, Dragon Seed manages to retain its power and entertainment value even 50 years after the fact (Incidentally, there are a few genuine Chinese in the cast-most of them playing Japanese!)
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Warner Home Video

Cast

Walter Huston
as Ling Tan
Turhan Bey
as Lao Er Tan
Akim Tamiroff
as Wu Lien
Aline MacMahon
as Mrs. Ling Tan
Hurd Hatfield
as Lao San
Agnes Moorehead
as 3rd Cousin's Wife
Henry Travers
as 3rd Cousin
Robert Lewis
as Capt. Sato
J. Carroll Naish
as Japanese Kitchen Overseer
Robert Bice
as Lao Ta
Jacqueline de Wit
as Mrs. Wu Lien
Clarence Lung
as 4th Cousin
Paul E. Burns
as Neighbor Shen
Anna Demetrio
as Wu Soo
Ted Hecht
as Maj. Yohagi
Abner Biberman
as Capt. Yasuda
Leonard Mudie
as Old Peddler
Charles Lung
as Japanese Diplomat
Benson Fong
as Student
Philip Van Zandt
as Japanese Guard
Al Hill
as Japanese Officer
Alex Havier
as Japanese Soldier
J. Alex Havier
as Japanese Soldier
Philip Ahn
as Leader of City People
Roland Got
as Speaker with Movies
Robbie Lee
as Young Farmer
Frank Puglia
as Old Clerk
Claire Du Brey
as Hysterical Woman
Lee Tung Foo
as Innkeeper
Jay Novello
as Japanese Soldier
Leonard Strong
as Japanese Official
Lionel Barrymore
as Narrator
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Critic Reviews for Dragon Seed

All Critics (3)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | August 7, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Quite moving, strong drama featuring Kate Hepburn.

April 20, 2008
Video-Reviewmaster.com

One of MGM's worst melodramas of the 40s and a low point in the career of Hepburn, here miscast as a young and alert Chinese woman. Propaganda picture was made to please the government (and its Chinese allies) but by today's standards it's racist.

Full Review… | May 6, 2007
EmanuelLevy.Com

That Caucasian actors are cast in the primary Oriental roles greatly detracts from the film's authenticity.

Full Review… | July 27, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Dragon Seed

A lavishly made war epic. Rather unusually cast with white actors playing many of the roles of the Chinese peasants. A product of the time it was made, showing the Japanese in a very unfavorable light. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it

Eric Jenkins
Eric Jenkins

Katharine Hepburn as an oriental? You've been warned.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

5.5/10. It was such an effort to use so many caucasian actors in asian roles, it really hurts the film when using asian actors would have been so much easier. This is one of Katherine Hepburns worst performances, she's not bad, but isn't good either. Aline MacMahon comes off best.

James Higgins
James Higgins

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