55 Days at Peking

Overview

Samuel Bronston produced this extravagant blockbuster, shot in Super Technirama 70. Nominally directed by Nicholas Ray who makes a brief appearance as the U.S. ambassador, Ray was taken off the film and replaced by the more pliable directorial touches of Andrew Marton. Charlton Heston stars as Maj. Matt Lewis, the leader of an army of multinational soldiers who head to Peking during the infamous Boxer Rebellion of 1900. As the film unfolds, the foreign embassies in Peking are being held in a grip of terror as the...
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Overview

Samuel Bronston produced this extravagant blockbuster, shot in Super Technirama 70. Nominally directed by Nicholas Ray who makes a brief appearance as the U.S. ambassador, Ray was taken off the film and replaced by the more pliable directorial touches of Andrew Marton. Charlton Heston stars as Maj. Matt Lewis, the leader of an army of multinational soldiers who head to Peking during the infamous Boxer Rebellion of 1900. As the film unfolds, the foreign embassies in Peking are being held in a grip of terror as the Boxers set about massacring Christians in an anti-Christian nationalistic fever. Inside the besieged compound, the finicky British ambassador David Niven gathers the beleaguered ambassadors into a defensive formation. Included in the group of high-level dignitaries is a sultry Russian Baroness Ava Gardner who takes a shine to Lewis upon his arrival at the embassy compound with his group of soldiers. As Lewis and the group conserve food and water and try to save some hungry children, they await the arrival of expected reinforcements, but the tricky Chinese Empress Tzu Hsi Flora Robson is, in the meantime, plotting with the Boxers to break the siege at the compound with the aid of Chinese recruits.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
55 Days at Peking is an odd movie in director Nicholas Ray's canon, although it is questionable as to whether it should be included among his works, as he was removed from it halfway through filming. Peking certainly feels like a movie guided by more than one hand, which ultimately impacts it effectiveness. Despite its ups and downs, there's enough to make Peking worth watching, especially from those who have a fondness for historical war epics. Peking gets off to a smashing start., with a beautiful presentation of the colors of the various nations involve din the story. Many of the battle and action sequences are also exciting, and the physical production is often stunning. These are balanced by some rather stilted attempts at humanizing the characters involved, an attempt that is scuttled by uninspired writing, curiously detached (for Ray) direction and an annoying performance from Charlton Heston. Ava Gardner does manage to find some interesting variations on a stock character. Even better is Flora Robson, whose Chinese empress is sinister and duplicitous; the best work comes from David Niven, giving the kind of light, witty performance he had practically patented by this point. Although anyone with a desire to get a fully-rounded picture of the Boxer rebellion should avoid Peking, there's enough action to satisfy fans on big battle flicks.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 12/30/2003
  • EAN: 4897007038121
  • Original Release: 1963
  • Source: Imports
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 29,526

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charlton Heston Maj. Matt Lewis
Ava Gardner Baroness Natalie Ivanoff
David Niven Sir Arthur Robinson
Flora Robson Dowager Empress Tsu Hzi
John Ireland Sergeant Harry
Harry Andrews Father de Bearn
Leo Genn Gen. Jung-Lu
Robert Helpmann Prince Tuan
Ichizo Itami Col. Shiba
Kurt Kasznar Baron Sergei Ivanoff
Philippe Leroy Julliard
Paul Lukas Dr. Steinfeldt
Lynne Sue Moon Teresa
Elizabeth Sellars Lady Sarah Robertson
Massimo Serato Garibaldi
Jacques Sernas Maj. Bobrinski
Jerome Thor Lt. Andy Marshall
Geoffrey Bayldon Smythe
Joseph Furst Capt. Hanselman
Walter Gotell Capt. Hoffman
Alfred Lynch Gerald
Alfredo Mayo Spanish Minister
Martin Miller Hugo Bergmann
José Nieto Italian Minister
Eric Pohlmann Baron von Meck
Aram Stephan Gaumaire
Robert Urquhart Capt. Hanley
R.S.M. Brittain Sgt. Britten
Felix Defauce Dutch Minister
Andre Eszterhazy Austrian Minister
Carlos Casaravilla Japanese Minister
Fernando Sancho Belgian Minister
Michael Chow Chiang
Mitchell Kowal U.S. Marine
Andy Ho
John Moulder-Brown
Stephen Young
John A. Tinn
Mervyn Johns Clergyman
Nicholas Ray American Minister
George Wang Boxer Chief
Technical Credits
Nicholas Ray Director
Manuel Berenguer Cinematographer
Samuel Bronston Producer
Veniero Colasanti Costumes/Costume Designer, Production Designer, Set Decoration/Design
Bernard Gordon Screenwriter
Robert Hamer Screenwriter
Jack Hildyard Cinematographer
Robert Lawrence Editor
John J. Moore Costumes/Costume Designer, Production Designer, Set Decoration/Design
José Lopez Rodero Asst. Director
Maude Spector Casting
Dimitri Tiomkin Score Composer, Songwriter, Musical Direction/Supervision
Mario Van Riel Makeup
Paul Webster Songwriter
Alex C. Weldon Special Effects
Philip Yordan Screenwriter
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