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Movie Info

Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck) arrives in China to marry Dr. Robert Strike (Gavin Gordon), her missionary fiancé. The Chinese Civil War interrupts their wedding plans, and the couple is separated while trying to save endangered orphans. Chinese warlord General Yen (Nils Asther) rescues Davis after she faints but subsequently holds her captive, persistently attempting to seduce her. Surprisingly, though, Davis becomes attracted to Yen and develops a sympathy for his embattled position.

Cast & Crew

Gavin Gordon
Dr. Robert Strife
Clara Blandick
Mrs. Jackson (uncredited)
Joseph Walker
Cinematographer
Edward Curtiss
Film Editor
Robert Kalloch
Costume Designer
Edward Stevenson
Costume Designer
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Critic Reviews for The Bitter Tea of General Yen

All Critics (8) | Fresh (8)

Audience Reviews for The Bitter Tea of General Yen

  • Jan 19, 2020
    Usually 1930s Hollywood would flirt with interracial jungle love with some strapping Midwestern and shirtless sailor type seduced by some steamy unclothed island princess, but here for a change the formula is flipped. In war torn China a good girl (Barbara Stanwyck? Yep.) has her virginity (Barbara Stanwyck?! Yep.) tempted by a "despicable yellow swine" (hey! It's in the script!), who's revealed to be an actual good guy. Of course. It's better than it sounds, and there's a pretty cool dream sequence in the middle of it that's better than the whole rest of the movie. Look for it.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 10, 2010
    This early Frank Capra film is much different and more serious in tone than the later, lighter films that made his reputation. The story, of a young fiancee' of a missionary in China who is kidnapped by a general with whom she eventually falls in love, must have given the censors ulcers back then. Even discounting the interracial romance between Chinese General Yen (played by very much NOT Chinese Nils Asther, and very well at that) and American Megan Davis (a VERY young Barbara Stanwyck, playing bossy and sassy even here), there are scenes of mass executions, a violent streetfight, a bath scene by Stanwyck that one can tell was made intentionally sexy, and a variety of other questionable scenes. The film looks sumptuous, dark and mysterious, and the Chinese set decor and costumes are beautiful. I had a problem with the film however, in that I just wasn't convinced of the romance between Yen and Megan. In his position as powerful Chinese general, I couldn't see him falling for an American, especially with the gorgeous Toshia Mori around, playing the traitorous Mah-Li. But then again, there are plenty of couples out there that I would have never imagined could have hooked up. I'm really going to have to see this again. I think I may have missed something, especially the final scene between Stanwyck and Asther. May be something more there than I got the first time around.
    Cindy I Super Reviewer
  • Jun 12, 2009
    capra's most daring film was a box office disaster in 1933. it was denounced by women's groups and religious organizations in america and banned in the british empire for obliquely portraying an interracial love story between star barbara stanwyck and a chinese general (played by a swedish guy of course *eyeroll*) and it's criticism of missionary work in china. racist attitudes and pronouncements made by white christian missionaries made the film rather subversive. a fascinating film sadly stuck between it's progressive ideas and it's traditionally racist casting *note* someone has suggested to me that political correctness shouldn't be a criteria for judging films and that 'racist casting' may in fact be insisting actors only portray their own race. i must admit this is an interesting point of view. plz discuss :)
    Stella D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 01, 2007
    Strange and unusal for a 30's film
    jay n Super Reviewer

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