Friday, June 6, 2008

The Toll of the Sea (Chester M. Franklin, 1922) C+

The Toll of the Sea was the first feature length film shot in Technicolor and, if nothing else, is worth a look for that. The process is a little primitive (only two colors- red and green- could be used in this early process) but it's almost looks realistic. The story is your average silent melodrama: a Chinese woman (Anna May Wong) is seduced, abandoned and knocked up by an American. Thankfully, director Chester M. Franklin doesn't overdo the dramatics and a lot of the film is actually somewhat touching (if somewhat overdone). Anna May Wong isn't great here, but she has the making of a genuinely great actress. If only Hollywood had let her do more challenging work and not stereotype her because of her Asian heritage- she might have been the next Shearer or Bow if she had been given more experience.

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