Friday, June 6, 2008

The Peach Girl (Wancang Bu, 1931) C-

A perfectly respectable movie, but it's really nothing more than a sub-par Greta Garbo tragedy. I know I shouldn't have been expecting some grand, sweeping epic that would have put 1930's China into perspective for some American 70 years later, but The Peach Girl is something I would expect from MGM, filmed on the back lot with white actors in "yellowface." Everything from the scene with the children slinging mud at each other (with some landing in the face of the rich landlord) to the fair scene to the dramatic deathbed finale. Actress Ruan Ling-yu was considered the Chinese Garbo before her tragic suicide in 1935 and you can see why she was so beloved in her time. She's not given much to do here, but when her beautiful face fills the frame in a close-up few silent actresses can compare.

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