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USA 1963
Directed by
Nicholas Ray
154 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

55 Days at Peking

Ray quarreled so violently with  Samuel Bronston that he eventually quit the picture, effectively ending his Hollywood career (he  soon afterward suffered a severe heart attack which was finished by Andrew Marton and Guy Green, both of whom were uncredited. Bronston then re-edited Ray’s version turning it into a ham-fisted Fordian takes on the 1900 Boxer rebellion with military men Charlton Heston and David Niven doing what military men do and Ava Gardner providing the eye candy.

1960s big budget spectacles (this was filmed in Super Technorama 70) have not aged well, beyond the large-scale logistics failing to withstand scrutiny.  This is the case here with the main failing of the film being the Western-centric, with God-on-our-side, ideology underpinning it, one that permitted, for example, passing off nuggeted-up Robert Helpmann and Flora Robson as Oriental aristocracy.  Such blinkered perception has has long since been deconstructed, leaving the film a badly-dated legacy of yesteryear.




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