EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|GENERAL DIED AT DAWN, THE (director: Lewis Milestone; screenwriters: story by Charles B. Booth/Clifford Odets; cinematographer: Victor Milner; editor: Eda Warren; music: Werner Janssen; cast: Gary Cooper (O'Hara), Madeleine Carroll (Judy Perrie), Akim Tamiroff (General Yang), Dudley Digges (Mr. Wu), Porter Hall (Peter Perrie), William Frawley (Brighton), J. M. Kerrigan (Leach), Philip Ahn (Oxford), Lee Tung Foo (Mr. Chen), Leonid Kinskey (Stewart), John O'Hara (Reporter); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William LeBaron; MCA Universal Home Video; 1936)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Lewis Milestone ("Halls of Montezuma"/"Pork Chop
Quiet on the Western Front") craftily
directs this old-fashioned thriller starring Gary
Cooper at his robust
macho best. Writer Clifford Odets
bases it on the
story by Charles B.
Booth, and cuts away from the class-struggle story to
focus on the
action parts. It touches on foreign intrigue in the
Far East over
spies, smugglers, gunrunners and a despotic warlord.
(Gary Cooper), is in China to help
the helpless Chinese get rid of a ruthless Chinese
warlord, General Yang (Akim
who has overtaxed
them and made their life miserable. Yang controls
one of China's twelve provinces in the
Northern district and all its silk,
opium markets. The ambitious Yang wants to control all
but needs weapons. Rival
general Wu (Dudley
the American soldier of fortune
O'Hara to Shanghai to purchase weapons from the
is willing to do business with anyone for a price.
O'Hara carries the
money the peasants collected in his money belt, and is
ordered to go by
coward who has six months to live, and his
beautiful daughter Judy (Madeleine
deliver O'Hara to Yang and then Peter promises to
Brighton weapons for Yang. Judy talks the hot-blooded
taking the train to be with her. On the train Yang's
men capture O'Hara
and give Peter his money belt to buy the weapons.
Peter schemes to keep
some of the money
so he and Judy can return to America, which Judy has
In spite of being
falls in love with Judy and she
reciprocates by trying to come to his aid. It's then
up to O"Hara to
redeem himself to Wu and the oppressed peasants by
leading Yang to
them and squaring things over the stolen money. Too
bad the ending is
too absurd to remove the impression how vacuous is
this well-acted pic.
Watch for cameos on
of playwright Odets, Hollywood columnist Sidney
Skolsky and novelist
REVIEWED ON 6/8/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ