55 Days at Peking

1963

Action / Adventure / Drama / History / War

55
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 57%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 53%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 5220

Synopsis


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April 12, 2014 at 01:29 AM

Director

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*720
English
NR
24.000 fps
2hr 34 min
P/S 0 / 5
2.26 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
24.000 fps
2hr 34 min
P/S 2 / 4

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 HotToastyRag 9 / 10

Fantastic historical epic

Although Dimitri Tiomkin's score evoked every fitting emotion, it was a travesty that his were the only nominations 55 Days at Peking received in 1964. This incredibly lavish war epic was majorly snubbed at the Oscars; it should have been nominated for, if not won, Best Picture.

The start of the film shows Peking in 1900. The United States, England, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Austria, and Japan are all represented with troops, flags, and national anthems played at the same time. The countries occupy separate spaces and are very clearly only interested in playing their own tunes. When the Boxer Rebellion comes to a head, all the nations must come together and try to fight the Boxers off. They're grossly outnumbered and try to hold out and defend themselves until reinforcements arrive.

Nicholas Ray's direction is excellent, especially when you consider his most famous films were quiet, inclusive dramas like Rebel Without a Cause and In a Lonely Place. The battle scenes are exciting and choreographically splendid to watch. This is an epic on a grand scale, with exquisitely detailed costumes and sets, by Veniero Colasanti and John Moore. In the beginning of the film, before the violence starts, there's a ball, and all the dignitaries and military men are resplendent in their uniforms. It's a very necessary scene, to show how far they fall during their desperate battle. I can't understand why this film didn't do well at the box office or during awards season; it's one of the most fantastic historical epics I've ever seen. While the battle scenes aren't grotesque, as they would be if the film was remade, there's enough tension to satisfy modern audiences. The combination of hope and hopelessness is incredible; I don't know whether to attribute it to the director, screenwriter, or the actors themselves.

Charlton Heston plays an American major, and he's joined by John Ireland and Jerome Thor; the latter has a half-Chinese daughter to provide for. While balancing his soldier duties, Chuck has an affair with Ava Gardner, who's supposed to play a Russian baroness. Ava doesn't even try for a Russian accent, and her homage to New York on the ends of her words made me cringe a little. Thankfully, she doesn't have a very big part, and Chuck is free to focus on his scenes without her, which are much better acted.

It's David Niven who steals the show, not only in his character's written part, but in his acting. He plays a British diplomat, based on the real life figure during the Boxer Rebellion, Sir Claude MacDonald, but since he has previous military experience, he's involved firsthand in the battle strategies. Lesser actors might have played the part as a one-dimensional diplomat, but The Niv gave a four-dimensional fantastic performance. He's just as anxious to return home to England as he is to return to the battlefield; and for a man who has the weight of his family, his country, and seven other allied nations on his shoulders, he show so much more emotion on his face than could be written in a screenplay. During the ball, the German Ambassador pays David Niven's character a compliment, and I think it's fitting for the actor himself: "I admire Sir Arthur. He always gives me the feeling that God must be an Englishman."

Reviewed by dglink 7 / 10

An Ode to Imperialism

Samuel Bronston produced three big-budget films at his Madrid studio during the early 1960's. The three films, "El Cid," "The Fall of the Roman Empire," and "55 Days at Peking" all featured well known stars, had casts of thousands, memorable music scores, and budgets that provided production values that splashed across the wide screen. Unfortunately, all three productions received mixed critical reviews and modest box-office returns. "55 Days at Peking" is typical of the three; headed by a trio of big names, Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and David Niven, and directed by Nicholas Ray, the lavish production is set in China during the Boxer Rebellion. The historical period and the politics make a fascinating backdrop to a cliché-ridden story.

Heston plays an American Major and glides by on his toothy grin and profile, while Niven depends on his innate Britishness to carry him through the role of an English diplomat. Ava Gardner comes off best; her beauty and grace imbue what is an undemanding role as a Russian Baroness with a priceless necklace, a murky secret, and a past littered with men. Similar to "The Good Earth," "Dragon Seed," and other Hollywood films of the 1930's and 40's, the casting of Western actors as Chinese characters persisted. Flora Robson as the Dowager Empress, Leo Genn as General Jung-Lu, and Robert Helpmann as Prince Tuan, are made-up Chinese caricatures, with Robson faring best and Helpmann worst. John Ireland, Harry Andrews, Kurt Kaszner, and Paul Lukas fill out the rest of the noteworthy Western roles.

Dong Kingman's colorful watercolors over the opening and closing credits are worthy of mention, as is Dimitri Tiomkin's Oscar-nominated score. Set against a turbulent era, the script by Philip Yordan and Bernard Gordon creaks much like the archaic casting of whites for Chinese; the story links one cliché with another whenever it strays from scenes that depict historical events into a lukewarm romance or sugary domestic drama. A few scenes that involve children have dialog that was possibly cribbed from Hallmark cards and is borderline cringe worthy. This large-scale ode to Western imperialism celebrates the endurance of a group of stubborn Westerners against the Chinese, who resented their intrusion and tried to force them out. The film is told from the perspective of the European diplomats trapped in Peking's foreign compound, who withstood 55 days of siege. Again like vintage films from Hollywood's Golden Age, coiffures and makeup are never mussed, clothing is never soiled, and death is always painless, bloodless, and peaceful. Nicholas Ray's direction of the action scenes is solid, although atmospheric scenes clutter the first third to extend the film's length and justify its importance. "55 Days at Peking" might have been a winner in the 1930's, but for contemporary viewers, politics have changed, and glorifying imperialism is no longer popular. The film is decent viewing for a peek at the past, an introduction to the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, and as an example of flamboyant, spectacular filmmaking of the early 1960's.

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