Movie Mirrors Index

West of Shanghai

(1937 b 66')

En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on a play by Porter Emerson Browne, a local warlord in China tries to solve conflicts he finds among a group of Americans at a mission.

In a China train station Harry tells Gordon Creed (Ricardo Cortez) that oil-man Jim Hallet needs money. Gordon learns that his compartment was given to General Chow Fu-shan (Vladimir Sokoloff), who lets Gordon join him. Gordon is invited by Myron Galt (Douglas Wood) to dine with his daughter Lola Galt (Sheila Bromley). Myron expects to take the oil field, because Jim Hallet owes him money. They join Gen. Fu-shan and discover he is dead. Myron, Lola, and Gordon are questioned, but the murderer is found and shot.

Jim Hallet (Gordon Oliver) escorts them to the medical mission and tells Myron his oil fields are over-run by Wu Yen Fang's bandits. Dr. Abernathy (Gordon Hart) welcomes them. General Wu Yen Fang (Boris Karloff) approaches in a car with horsemen. Jim wants Jane Creed (Beverly Roberts) to divorce Gordon and marry him. Officer Kung Nui (Chester Gan) takes Myron's watch. Jim hits him but is clubbed and dragged away. Fang enters and declares himself a guest. Fang invites Jane to go on a campaign and claims he kills only bad men. Gordon is kept out by officer Cheng (Richard Loo). Jim escapes but is recaptured. Jane pulls a gun on Fang but has to give it up. Fang recalls how Jim saved his life when he was wounded and offers to make him a general. Fang thinks it strange that Jane does not believe in divorce. Lola and Fang reject each other. Fang is sorry for Myron, because he likes money too much. Fang makes Gordon give him $50,000, which he pays Myron for the note. Then Fang makes Myron give the money to Abernathy for the mission. Fang has Gordon and Myron bid for the oil concession.

Jim sends a man to General Mar. Kung Nui tells Fang to execute Jim, because his men revolted after he lost face; but Lola tells Fang that Gordon bribed a man to start the revolt. Gordon offers Fang a deal, but Fang wants to kill Gordon so that Jane can marry Jim. Gordon bargains, but Fang shoots Gordon. Fang sees that both women love Jim. As Kung Nui orders a firing squad to shoot Jim, Fang has Kung Nui killed. Mar's men attack while Jane treats Gordon's wound. Gordon pulls a gun on Jim; but Fang kills Gordon. Fang gives up, knowing he will be executed by Mar. Fang drinks with Jim and then is shot. Mar says the ladies must go, and their group leaves.

Reflecting current turmoil in China, this drama explores how warlords use force and threats to manipulate people's lives according to their own whims. Fang delights in his power even though it is short-lived. Because of this arbitrary control, the others find their lives going through peculiar changes.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index