China (film)

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Directed by John Farrow
Produced by Richard Blumenthal
Written by Frank Butler
Based on play by Archibald Joyce
Starring Loretta Young
Alan Ladd
William Bendix
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Leo Tover
Edited by Eda Warren
Paramount Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) April 21, 1943
Running time 79 mins.
Country United States
Language English

China is a 1943 film directed by John Farrow. It stars Loretta Young and Alan Ladd.[1] David Jones, one of the main characters, was an inspiration for Indiana Jones, wearing a fedora, a brown jacket, and khakis.


In 1941, in Mei-Ki, China, war profiteer David Jones narrowly escapes with his life when Chinese Captain Tao-Yuan-Kai arrests him for selling oil to the Japanese but releases him because he is American. Japanese planes bomb the town, and Jones drives toward Shanghai with his partner, Johnny Sparrow, who has brought with him an orphaned baby boy.

After nightfall, they are forced to stop because Chinese refugees crowd the road and beat the Americans until Carolyn Grant, an American schoolteacher born in China, tells them to stop. Carolyn sneaks her group of female college students into the back of Jones's truck and insists that Jones proceed without headlights because they might be sighted by Japanese bombers. As she has an intimate knowledge of the local terrain, Carolyn takes over driving the truck, and has her friend, Lin Wei, sit on the hood to watch for potholes.

When Jones realizes that Carolyn has loaded his truck with refugees, he ruthlessly starts to throw them out, fearing that the extra load will use up the gas he needs to get to Shanghai, but relents when he learns that the students are young women.

Along the road the next day, they encounter Lin Wei's first and second brothers, Lin Cho and Lin Yun, who have formed a guerrilla band and are posing as peasants. Lin Cho warns them to take an alternate road, as the Japanese are approaching, and Jones reluctantly heads the truck to the family farm of Tan Ying, a girl he tried to throw off the truck.

At the farm, Carolyn tries again to persuade Jones to take the students to Chungtu, where they can continue their studies, rather than Japanese-occupied Shanghai, but Jones is unconcerned with the struggle of the Chinese, and refuses. After Johnny leaves the baby, whom he has dubbed "Donald Duck," with Tan Ying's family for safekeeping, the journey resumes. They are forced to abandon the truck when Japanese planes strafe the road, but Lin Cho and his compatriots shoot the plane down.

When Carolyn discovers that Tan Ying has slipped off the bus to rejoin her family, she insists on returning for her. While the rest of the group hikes to a monastery, Jones and Carolyn drive back to the farm and are shocked to find that the Japanese have burned the farm, and murdered Tan Ying's parents and Donald Duck. Jones then finds three Japanese soldiers raping Tan Ying, and shoots them without hesitation, while Carolyn comforts the hysterical woman. After the group takes refuge in the monastery, Tan Ying dies.

Finally cognizant of the nature of the Chinese struggle, Jones is now inspired to join the fight against the Japanese, and offers his help to the three brothers. They determine that they must close a mountain pass in order to prevent the further onslaught of the Japanese, but only the Japanese army has the necessary dynamite. That night, Jones, Johnny, Lin Wei, Lin Cho and Lin Yun swim across a river to raid a Japanese encampment and steal the dynamite. When their presence is detected, a fierce gun battle ensues, during which Lin Wei, and all but two other guerrillas, are killed. Before he dies, Lin Wei honors Jones by calling him his "fourth brother."

That night, Carolyn rejects Johnny's marriage proposal because she is in love with Jones, and later, the new lovers Jones and Carolyn spend a final night together. The next day, the small band of fighters places the dynamite along the mountain pass road.

When the Japanese convoy appears early, Jones stops them on the road to give the guerrillas time to lay the dynamite, and pretends that he is stranded. The Japanese general explains to Jones that Japan has just bombed Pearl Harbor in the United States, and that their intention is to create a new world order. After the general's second-in-command shoots Jones, the Chinese set off the dynamite causing an avalanche that buries the Japanese troops, and closes the road. Carolyn and Johnny mourn the loss of their friend as they drive the students to Chungtu.



The script was based on an unproduced play by Archibald Forbes.[2]

Loretta Young was an enthusiastic supporter of China during the war[3] and had just signed a three year deal with Paramount. She was announced as co-star to Ladd and Bendixx but then pulled out, claiming she was dissatisfied with her role.[4] However she appears to have changed her mind.

All but three of the cast were Chinese, causing the filmmakers to look outside normal casting avenues.[5]

It was the third war film in a row John Farrow had directed.[6]

Ladd was injured during filming the battle scenes, suffering a cut arm and sprained ankle.[7] He also had to make a 20 foot dive off a bridge, which former diver Ladd found easy.[8]

The scene were 4,000 Japanese troops were killed in explosion was thought to set a record for Japanese killed on screen in a Hollywood film.[9]


  1. ^
  2. ^ DRAMA: Farrow 'China' Guide; Young, Ladd to Costar Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Sep 1942: A7.
  3. ^ "Mme. CHIANG KAI-SHEK HONOURS STAR OF "CHINA".". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (ACT: National Library of Australia). 3 July 1943. p. 4. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 20 Oct 1942: 19.
  5. ^ "CHINA A CASTING HEADACHE.". The World's News (Sydney, NSW : 1901 - 1955) (Sydney, NSW: National Library of Australia). 11 September 1943. p. 9. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Town Called Hollywood Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 Nov 1942: C3.
  7. ^ Make-Believe Film Wars Also Have Casualties Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 17 Jan 1943: C7.
  8. ^ Ladd Performs High Dive in Action Picture Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 May 1943: 30.
  9. ^ Newcomer Singing Crosby-Type Song The Washington Post (1923-1954) [Washington, D.C] 04 Mar 1943: B9.

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