55 Days at Peking

1963

Action / Adventure / Drama / History / War

62
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 57%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 5

Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 31, 2015 at 08:55 PM

Cast

Charlton Heston as Maj. Matt Lewis
Ava Gardner as Baroness Natalie Ivanoff
David Niven as Sir Arthur Robertson
John Ireland as Sgt. Harry
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
992.77 MB
1280*534
English
Unrated
23.976 fps
2 hr 34 min
P/S 0/8
2.26 GB
1920*800
English
Unrated
23.976 fps
2 hr 34 min
P/S 5/9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ma-cortes 7 / 10

Breathtaking costume epic film , shot in Spain , depicting the Chinese Rebellion Boxer and the fate of Europeans trapped in the midst of the chaos

Historical and monumental film with big budget financed by the great producer Samuel Bronston . In this grand picture there are struggles , epic events , a love history and results to be very interesting , in spite of the fact that the runtime is overlong : 154 min and was filmed in Technicolor and Technirama . And including colorful photography and Dimitri Tiomkin's fascinating as well as romantic musical score , being masterfully directed by Nicholas Ray . During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion (Pekin , now Beijing) against foreigners in China, U.S. Army Major Matt Lewis (Charlton Heston), the head of the American garrison , aided by British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson (David Niven) , devises a strategy to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force arrives . The Boxers receive a tacit and undercover support by the ruler , Dowager Empress of China Tzu-Hsi (Flora Robson) , and her favorites as Prince Tuan (Robert Helpmann) . Meanwhile , Matt falls in love for a beautiful Baroness, Natalie Ivanoff (Ava Gardner) . Then , Matt Lewis (this role was loosely based on the real-life officer in charge of the marine guard at the US Legation, then Captain, later Lieutenant General, John Twiggs Myers) sets the forefront of some of the toughest fighting in the besieged legations . As a handful of men and women held out against the frenzied hordes of bloodthirsty fanatics and caught in the midst of the mayhem . All of them try to stop them pending the arrival of a relief force.

The movie is very spectacular , it's an excellent film , partially based on historical deeds . Runtime picture is overlong but is neither boring , nor tiring , but entertaining because happen many events . In the film, there are epic , mammoth spectacle , history , a love story , wonderful scenarios and is a pretty enjoyable movie . The final confrontation battle between the military Britishers , American soldiers , other foreigners and the Boxers enemies is overwhelming and outstanding . Nice performances by big name actors , an all-star cast . And extraordinary support cast such as John Ireland , Harry Andrews , Leo Genn , Kurt Kasznar , Philippe Leroy , Paul Lukas , Elizabeth Sellars , Massimo Serato ,Eric Pohlmann , Robert Urquhart , Burt Kwouk , Mervyn Johns , Jacques Sernas , among others . And brief interpretations from Spanish cast as Carlos Casaravilla , Jose Nieto , Félix Dafauce , Alfredo Mayo , Conchita Montes , Fernando Sancho and ¡Paul Naschy¡ .

Lavishly produced by Samuel Bronston , as he constructed a set representing turn-of-the-century Peking in Madrid at a cost of $900,000 . When Bronston was making the set for the Forum Romanum from ¨The fall of the Roman Empire¨ and it was actually being built , then Heston rejected the script but expressed an interest in '55 Days at Peking' instead . Bronston immediately ordered that the work on the Forum be stopped and the landscaping and foundation work be adapted for the Peking set . After filming, the Peking set was torn down and replaced by the Forum , if you look carefully, both sets share a very similar topography . Veniero Colosanti and John Moore production as well as costume design are breathtaking and impressive . Battles well staged are incredible and overwhelming . Due to mainland China's hostility and isolation from the Western world, a full-scale 60-acre replication of Peking 1900 -sewers and all- was built in the plains outside Madrid, and Chinese/Asian extras were flown in from all over Europe to provide the local Peking citizenry . The production grew so strapped for extras and equipment they borrowed them from Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which was filming concurrently in Almeria and Seville . A number of costumes for the Royal Chinese Court were authentic ones from Tzu Hsi's actual court .

Evocative as well as rousing musical score by the classic Dimitri Tiomkin . Ray direction is splendid and Jack Hildyard -David lean's ordinary cameraman- cinematography in Super Technirama 70 is fascinating . The flick was superbly handled by Nicholas Ray . However ,the production was troubled almost from the beginning. It ran into financial troubles, there were conflicts among the cast, and director Nicholas Ray argued so violently with producer Samuel Bronston that he eventually walked off the set and quit the picture, and soon afterward suffered a severe heart attack. Andrew Marton and Guy Green finished directing the picture, uncredited . The motion picture will appeal to historic story buffs and spectacular film lovers .

Reviewed by hitchcockthelegend 7 / 10

For 55 days they played the same tune.

55 Days at Peking is directed by Nicholas Ray and Andrew Marton and collectively written by Philip Yordan, Bernard Gordon, Robert Hamer and Ben Barzman. It stars Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, David Niven and Flora Robson. Music is scored by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography is by Jack Hildyard.

1900, Peking, China. The Boxer Rebellion. 13 of 18 provinces are under foreign rule and the Chinese have had enough. With Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi secretly supporting the Boxer societies, the foreign powers come under attack and are forced to defend the legations' compound until reinforcements from the military arrive. The defence would last for 55 days.

Lavish, full of pictorial scope, often stirring, yet it's saggy in the middle, too long, killed Nicholas Ray's career (and nearly himself since he collapsed on set) and apparently offensive to some with its imperialistic trumpeting. It has been called the magnificent failure, and in truth that's about as apt a tag line as you could get. For production value it's up with the best of them as producer Samuel Bronston oversees the building of the wonderful Peking sets (Veniero Colasanti & John Moore) at his Madrid base, and it is a joy to behold. Tiomkin's score pings around the locale with aural pleasure and when the action does come it considerably raises the pulses.

Acting performances are mostly OK, especially when Niven and Heston share scenes as it's great to see a genuine screen presence playing off of classy elegance. Gardner, whilst not in any shape or form bad, gets one of those annoyingly dull romantic interest roles that a film of this type didn't need. It doesn't help that there is zero chemistry between Gardner and her "borderline" beau, Heston. It's no surprise to find that Heston thought Gardner was a pain during the shoot!

As for the troubling thematics? Where the Chinese are portrayed as Christian slaughtering savages and the foreign imperialists as noble defenders of the right to take over China? Well the picture does come off as trying to excuse foreign imperialism in China, but it helps to note that this is merely a movie about one event in that part of history. With that in mind, anyone viewing it expecting anything other than the 55 day siege told from the legation's viewpoint is always going to be in for a let down! And right from the off we are shown and told with a tint of sarcasm that all these "foreign" countries want a piece of China as they raise their flags and trundle out their national anthems.

The Peking Alamo? Well maybe? Best to go into it expecting your eyes and ears to be dazzled rather than your brain. 7/10

Reviewed by theowinthrop 7 / 10

The One Great Moment of International Cooperation That Was Lost

In 55 DAYS AT PEKING, Samuel Bronston tried to retell the story of how in 1900the Chinese decided to risk everything to get rid of foreign devils. Another comment on this board presented the story pretty fairly. For nearly one hundred years the Portuguese and then the British had made in roads into China, taking over territory on the coasts, and making increasingly arrogant demands on the weakened Manchu dynasty for trade and territorial concessions. After 1870 the French, Germans, Russians, and Japanese got into the act. The U.S. too had a large trade with China, but it never got involved with territorial demands (we were developing the American West in the period). However, many American based missionaries did set up their missions in China - and could be somewhat demanding on the local populations.

But what is not usually gone into is the other side of the coin. China was not well governed for the bulk of the population. In fact, in the 1850s and 1860s there was a long and bloody Civil War (The Taiping Rebellion) that was to make an international figure out of the British General who finally put it down (Charles George "Chinese" Gordon). The reason for the rebellion was partly religious, but it was also partly economic - the peasantry was tired supporting the Manchu Court in Beijing (the Peking of the movie title). A succession of weak emperors were plaguing the country, who were manipulated by Tzu - Hsi (one of the most unscrupulous monarchs in history).

Tzu - Hsi would basically control the Chinese Government from 1860 to 1908, when she died. Her idea of government responsibility is illustrated by a famous act of selfishness she performed. When China's navy was trounced in the Sino - Japanese War of 1894 (Japan had a modern navy), it was decided to use tax money to build up the Chinese navy to compete with Japan again. The Dowager Empress agreed - she took the money earmarked for battleships, and built a super battleship. Only it was made of marble, in the shape of a battleship, and was put on land as a summer palace. It is still standing as a tourist attraction.

Humiliations were not only done by Europeans, Americans, and Japanese. If you recall the geography lesson scene in THE KING AND I, the children are unconvinced about the small size of Siam as opposed to China. The Crown Prince points out that China can't be that big - it's monarchy is considered weak, while Siam's is strong. Well, in this period, Siam (Thailand) also had managed to get some territory back from China - and to become rather important in the area of southeast Asia. This would not have been the case in the 17th or 18th Centuries.

In 1900 the Chinese finally exploded. The people had been forming para-military groups in the late 1890s (in the wake of the defeat by Japan) which were ultra-Nationalist, fervently anti-foreign, and fervently in favor of Chinese religious beliefs over Christian. The Dowager Empress realized that it would be advantageous to her to let these energies be expanded towards the foreigners: it would keep these people looking too closely at her misrule. Without officially countenancing these groups (called "Boxers" because their translated names - like "Harmonious Fists" - were mistaken by westerners to refer to boxing terms), the Empress allowed them to erupt.

Her motivation was mostly self-protection, but there was another key to it that the westerners were aware of. China, with close to 500 million inhabitants, was the most populated state in the world. They might be able to field army after army long after the other states were drained of manpower. There is some evidence the Empress believed this wishful thinking, not realizing that at some point the population of China would also be seriously hurting by such casualties.

It was the intention of the Boxers to kill or drive out the foreign devils. This is what the story is about, and how the various foreign embassies in Beijing joined forces to fight for their lives.

The acting in the film is pretty good, in particular the troubled David Niven as the British Ambassador, who even at the end wonders if his own ambitions dictated his policies. He was in a backwater embassy, and did he subconsciously help raise the crisis to a boil to make a name for himself. Flora Robson's empress is delightfully evil, until she realizes that she has brought forth the very powers that will destroy her. Charlton Heston is good as the American military leader, who keeps finding ways to stave off the tens of thousands of armed Chinese from invading the legislative compound. Ava Gardner is not great in the romantic portions with Heston, but she does shine in her scenes with her brother-in-law Kurt Kazner (the Russian Ambassador), who blames her for his brother's death, and in her scenes with Paul Lukas (as the German doctor) tending the wounded and dying, until Lukas is forced to watch her die as well (a good performance by him too).

What was ironically missed in 1900 was that the Chinese managed to do what a century of "peace" in Europe failed to: the major powers did cooperate to rescue their legations, and put down the Boxers. It was the only instance of this during the age of imperialism - but there was no Bismarck or Disraeli or Castlereagh or Metternich about to build on it! Had there been such, possibly some of the causes that led to World War I fourteen years later would have been avoided. Instead, the great powers resumed bickering again.

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