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Good Earth
     

The Good Earth

Director: Victor Fleming, Sidney Franklin

Cast: Paul Muni, Luise Rainer

 

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Based on Donald Davis and Owen Davis' stage-adaptation of Pearl S. Buck's sprawling novel, Sidney Franklin's The Good Earth is the story of a Chinese farming couple whose lives are torn apart by poverty, greed, and nature. Paul Muni stars as Wang Lung a hardworking, but poor, farmer who weds freed-slave O-Lan (Luise Rainer). They struggle to build a life

Overview

Based on Donald Davis and Owen Davis' stage-adaptation of Pearl S. Buck's sprawling novel, Sidney Franklin's The Good Earth is the story of a Chinese farming couple whose lives are torn apart by poverty, greed, and nature. Paul Muni stars as Wang Lung a hardworking, but poor, farmer who weds freed-slave O-Lan (Luise Rainer). They struggle to build a life together, but after finally finding success, a plague of locusts descends upon their land, bringing a true test of the couple's perseverance. For her performance, Luise Rainer won the second of back-to-back Best Actress Oscars, while cinematographer Karl Freund took home an Academy Award for his photography work. The Good Earth was the final film production of Irving Thalberg, who died before the film was completed.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Producer Irving Thalberg, the filmmaking genius known as Hollywood's Boy Wonder, died tragically young at the age of 37, just as production was wrapping up on this epic adaptation of Pearl Buck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about life in China. Consequently, the film was dedicated to Thalberg -- and what a fitting monument it proved to be. Produced for a then-whopping $3 million, The Good Earth spared no expense in creating a believable Chinese countryside out of MGM's Culver City back lot and surrounding environs. It's the story of Wang Lung (Paul Muni), a simple farmer who takes wife O-Lan (Luise Rainer) in an arranged marriage and builds a family and a farm, only to abandon both after becoming showered with wealth. Fate eventually intervenes, and Wang learns what is truly important. Director Sidney Franklin, not known as a master stylist (and with good reason), allows the pace to flag, and at times the film seems ponderous. But it has several elaborate, powerful sequences -- a violent storm, the pillaging of a Chinese village, and, most memorably, the devastation caused by a plague of locusts -- and incredibly skillful performances by a mostly Occidental cast with Asian makeup. Vienna-born Rainer won her second consecutive Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the humble, dignified, and loving O-Lan; Muni, an actor prone to over-emoting, hits every note with perfect pitch here. Long and (by today's standards) occasionally turgid, The Good Earth nonetheless remains an extraordinary achievement, one that belongs in any collection of classic movies from Hollywood's Golden Age.
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
An epic tale of love, duty, greed, and revolution, MGM's The Good Earth was an artistic and commercial success. It was the last film of legendary producer Irving Thalberg, and the only one to carry his name. The story's scope, following the fall and rise of a peasant family in pre-revolutionary China, was matched by a large scale production (costing an at-the-time astounding 3 million dollars) that included (literally) a cast of thousands, a 500-acre set, thousands of pieces of costume, equipment, and tools, and even buildings imported from China. The massive production, directed first by Victor Fleming, then by Sidney Franklin, includes a couple of classic scenes of epic grandeur: the mob rebellion scene in which the Imperial Palace is sacked, and the locust scene, a marvelous technical achievement in its own right. Despite the grand scale, the human drama is never dwarfed. Stars Paul Muni and Luise Rainer, as the hardworking farmer and his long-suffering wife, offer sincere performances. Although neither was of Chinese descent, both found the right notes for these parts. Rainer won her second consecutive Academy Award, and soon thereafter dropped from sight in a prolonged feud with Hollywood executives. Cinematographer Karl Freund, famous for his work in German Expressionist films of the 1920s, took home an Oscar as well, and the film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Editing.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/31/2006
UPC:
0012569692626
Original Release:
1937
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:18:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Vintage musical short Hollywood party; Supreme Court of films picks the Champions Newsreel; Theatrical trailer; Languages: English & Français; Subtitles: English, Français & Español (Feature film only)

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Muni Wang Lung
Luise Rainer O-Lan
Walter Connolly Uncle
Tilly Losch Lotus
Charles Grapewin Old Father
Jessie Ralph Cuckoo
Keye Luke Elder Son
Suzanna Kim Little Fool
Harold Huber Cousin
Olaf Hytten Grain Merchant
William Law Gateman
Maly Wong Little Bridee
Philip Ahn Captain
Caroline Chew Dancer
Chester Gan Singer in Tea House
Roland Got Younger Son
Lotus Liu Lotus
Miki Morita House Guest of Wang
Peach Seller Actor
Sammee Tong Chinaman
Soo Yong Old Mistress Aunt
Ching Wah Lee Ching
Richard Loo Farmer
Charles B. Middleton Banker

Technical Credits
Victor Fleming Director
Sidney Franklin Director
Donald Davis Screenwriter
Karl W. Freund Cinematographer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Arnold A. Gillespie Art Director
Talbot Jennings Screenwriter
Albert Lewin Producer
Jewell Jordan Mason Stunts
Montages Cinematographer
Harry Oliver Art Director
Douglas Shearer Sound/Sound Designer
Tess Slesinger Screenwriter
Herbert Stothart Score Composer
Irving G. Thalberg Producer
Dolly Tree Costumes/Costume Designer
Slavko Vorkapich Cinematographer
Claudine West Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Art Director,Set Decoration/Design
Basil Wrangell Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Good Earth
1. Credits [2:05]
2. Wang Lung's Marriage Day [7:02]
3. O-Lan. [6:43]
4. Planting a Seed [5:11]
5. I Am With Child [4:08]
6. Racing the Rain [5:11]
7. A Son [4:33]
8. More Land [5:05]
9. Return to the Great House [4:46]
10. Famine [5:37]
11. Hunger Makes Men Mad [6:09]
12. No Sale, No Life [4:39]
13. Migrating Soutn [4:19]
14. Meat and Job Theft [4:04]
15. Revolution [3:31]
16. Storming the Great House [4:24]
17. Firing Squad [3:30]
18. Precious Stones [5:44]
19. Contracts Agreed and Proposed [3:25]
20. Dancing Lotus [3:51]
21. Another Woman [6:48]
22. Second Wife's Wish [3:15]
23. Taken Her Fancy [2:18]
24. Better Dead Than Here [3:59]
25. Friends Part [3:14]
26. Banishment [3:53]
27. Preparing for Invasion [3:48]
28. Locust Plague [7:42]
29. On the Land Again [2:23]
30. Wedding Feast [3:04]
31. You Are the Earth [3:27]

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