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HISTORY

Toll of the Sea was the first feature film shot in the two-strip Technicolor process.
       Title cards introduce the story: "There is a legend of far-away China which tells of the beauty and the treachery of the siren Sea--whose favors are a mortgage upon the soul--who gives gifts of joy and love, but demands double payment in disappointment and loneliness. So when the Sea laid a strange gift at the feet of the little Chinese girl, Lotus Flower, she was afraid--and yet intrigued."
       The Toll of the Sea was the seventeen-year-old Anna May Wong's breakthrough film. According to various sources, it was based on Puccini's opera, Madame Butterfly, which had already inspired Mary Pickford's Madame Butterfly (1915) and Norma Talmadge's The Forbidden City (1918).
       According to the 29 Jul 1941 DV, The Toll of the Sea was cinematographer Ray Rennahan's first Technicolor film. It was shot in Jul 1922. Rennahan was not credited in the film, but various sources, including his obituary in the 22 May 1980 DV, mention his work on the film. Editor Hal C. Kern was also not credited in the film, but according to his obituary in the 26 Feb 1985 DV, Kern "cut the first two-color Technicolor feature, The Toll of the Sea. "
       The 29 Mar 1923 Var reported that The Toll of the Sea was "highly praised," but when brought into a Philadelphia, PA, theater to replace an unpopular film, it did not "hold up" for more than a couple of days.
       It was available ... More Less

Toll of the Sea was the first feature film shot in the two-strip Technicolor process.
       Title cards introduce the story: "There is a legend of far-away China which tells of the beauty and the treachery of the siren Sea--whose favors are a mortgage upon the soul--who gives gifts of joy and love, but demands double payment in disappointment and loneliness. So when the Sea laid a strange gift at the feet of the little Chinese girl, Lotus Flower, she was afraid--and yet intrigued."
       The Toll of the Sea was the seventeen-year-old Anna May Wong's breakthrough film. According to various sources, it was based on Puccini's opera, Madame Butterfly, which had already inspired Mary Pickford's Madame Butterfly (1915) and Norma Talmadge's The Forbidden City (1918).
       According to the 29 Jul 1941 DV, The Toll of the Sea was cinematographer Ray Rennahan's first Technicolor film. It was shot in Jul 1922. Rennahan was not credited in the film, but various sources, including his obituary in the 22 May 1980 DV, mention his work on the film. Editor Hal C. Kern was also not credited in the film, but according to his obituary in the 26 Feb 1985 DV, Kern "cut the first two-color Technicolor feature, The Toll of the Sea. "
       The 29 Mar 1923 Var reported that The Toll of the Sea was "highly praised," but when brought into a Philadelphia, PA, theater to replace an unpopular film, it did not "hold up" for more than a couple of days.
       It was available on DVD and on YouTube in 2016. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Jul 1941
p. 7.
Daily Variety
22 May 1980
p. 10.
Daily Variety
26 Feb 1985
p. 30.
Film Daily
3 Dec 1922
p. 7.
New York Times
27 Nov 1922
p. 18.
Variety
1 Dec 1922
p. 35.
Variety
29 Dec 1922
p. 99.
Variety
15 Mar 1923
p. 28.
Variety
29 Mar 1923
p. 30.
Variety
25 Jun 1930
p. 98.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photographic direction by
Technicolor cine
FILM EDITOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 November 1922
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 26 November 1922
Production Date:
July 1922
Copyright Claimant:
Technicolor Motion Picture Corp.
Copyright Date:
5 December 1922
Copyright Number:
LP18473
Physical Properties:
Silent
Color
Two-color Technicolor
Length(in feet):
4,600
Length(in reels):
5
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In China, Lotus Flower hears "the cry of wind and wave" and helps fishermen rescue a young American, Allen Carver, washed up on a rocky seashore, despite an old Chinese man's warning that the sea takes in pain and sorrow twice the amount of joy it gives. Lotus Flower and Allen fall in love and he promises to marry her. However, a family emergency requires him to return to the United States, and friends convince him to leave without her. A son is born to Lotus Flower, and she maintains a ruse that Allen will come back to her. When Allen returns to China years later, he is accompanied by his American wife, Barbara. Overcome with grief, Lotus Flower persuades the Carvers to take little Allen, then gives herself up to the ... +


In China, Lotus Flower hears "the cry of wind and wave" and helps fishermen rescue a young American, Allen Carver, washed up on a rocky seashore, despite an old Chinese man's warning that the sea takes in pain and sorrow twice the amount of joy it gives. Lotus Flower and Allen fall in love and he promises to marry her. However, a family emergency requires him to return to the United States, and friends convince him to leave without her. A son is born to Lotus Flower, and she maintains a ruse that Allen will come back to her. When Allen returns to China years later, he is accompanied by his American wife, Barbara. Overcome with grief, Lotus Flower persuades the Carvers to take little Allen, then gives herself up to the sea. +

GENRE
Genres:


Subject
Subject (Major):

Subject (Minor):
Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.