Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)

85 mins | Melodrama | June 1962

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HISTORY

The title was listed in the 6 Jan 1960 Var as an upcoming project for Allied Artists Pictures Corporation. Later that year, the 16 Aug 1960 DV reported that producer-director Albert Zugsmith was leaving for Hawaii on 19 Aug 1960 “to cast Chinese, Eurasian and Hawaiian types.” Principal photography was scheduled to begin 20 Oct 1960, according to 23 Sep 1960 DV production charts. On 9 Nov 1960, DV revealed that filming was postponed until 28 Nov 1960, and again until 12 Dec 1960. While the production remained in limbo, the 26 Jan 1961 DV reported that Zugsmith met with the “Los Angeles Committee Against Defamation of the Chinese” (LACADC), which objected to the negative portrayal of its people in the 1821 source novel by Thomas De Quincey. Zugsmith explained that he agreed to the meeting at the insistence of someone “very friendly” to the motion picture industry, and was sworn to secrecy concerning the details. The next day, the 27 Jan 1961 DV revealed that a protest was also lodged by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs (CFWC), which joined with the LACADC in its opposition to the picture. After listening to their suggestions, Zugsmith reportedly convinced both groups that the screenplay would not be degrading to the Chinese. However, the filmmaker generally dismissed their concerns as they had “erroneous impressions” of his adaptation. The eight members of the LACADC were represented by attorney Fred K. Wong, while Zugsmith was accompanied by screenwriter Robert Hill, associate producer Eugene Lourie, and attorney Edward Rubin.
       The 3 Mar 1961 ... More Less

The title was listed in the 6 Jan 1960 Var as an upcoming project for Allied Artists Pictures Corporation. Later that year, the 16 Aug 1960 DV reported that producer-director Albert Zugsmith was leaving for Hawaii on 19 Aug 1960 “to cast Chinese, Eurasian and Hawaiian types.” Principal photography was scheduled to begin 20 Oct 1960, according to 23 Sep 1960 DV production charts. On 9 Nov 1960, DV revealed that filming was postponed until 28 Nov 1960, and again until 12 Dec 1960. While the production remained in limbo, the 26 Jan 1961 DV reported that Zugsmith met with the “Los Angeles Committee Against Defamation of the Chinese” (LACADC), which objected to the negative portrayal of its people in the 1821 source novel by Thomas De Quincey. Zugsmith explained that he agreed to the meeting at the insistence of someone “very friendly” to the motion picture industry, and was sworn to secrecy concerning the details. The next day, the 27 Jan 1961 DV revealed that a protest was also lodged by the California Federation of Women’s Clubs (CFWC), which joined with the LACADC in its opposition to the picture. After listening to their suggestions, Zugsmith reportedly convinced both groups that the screenplay would not be degrading to the Chinese. However, the filmmaker generally dismissed their concerns as they had “erroneous impressions” of his adaptation. The eight members of the LACADC were represented by attorney Fred K. Wong, while Zugsmith was accompanied by screenwriter Robert Hill, associate producer Eugene Lourie, and attorney Edward Rubin.
       The 3 Mar 1961 DV reported that Zugsmith was delaying production until Oct 1961, as star Vincent Price would not be available until that time. Principal photography began 2 Oct 1961, as stated in 27 Oct 1961 DV production charts. The 11 Oct 1961 Var noted that Zugsmith issued a custom letterhead for the project, described as “a bamboo curtain-Chinese junk-bosomy Chinawoman motif,” none of which was relevant to the source novel. Also mentioned was the casting of four unidentified stuntmen as Mongol villains, and “three expert hatchet wielders and throwers.” The following day, the 12 Oct 1961 DV announced that dancer Rae Corey was leaving the production, due to a knee injury suffered several days earlier. Her replacement was Keiko Nishimura, credited onscreen as Keiko. A news item in the 25 Oct 1961 Var noted that Zugsmith insured a gem used in the film for $1 million.
       Casting announcements included Pat Dean Smith, Donna Jean Okubo, Lang Yun, Vera Foo, Robin Jewell, and Elizabeth Thompson (2 Oct 1961 DV) ; the vaudeville team of Ching Tong and Memi Sing (4 Oct 1961 Var) ; singer Arthur Wong (4 Oct 1961 DV) ; Stewart Baskin, Charles Horvath, Stewart Taylor, and Duke Fishman (5 Oct 1961 DV) ; Angelo Rossitto and Jack Carr (14 Oct 1961 LAT) ; Yoneo Iguchi, Hayward Soo Hoo, and George Sasaki (31 Oct 1961 DV). The 18 Oct 1961 LAT noted that dancer Geri Hoo was a former Miss Hawaii.
       The 19 Jan 1962 DV reported that composer Albert Glasser would begin recording his score on 15 Feb 1962. The picture was due for release in Jul 1962, according to the 13 Mar 1962 DV. On 9 May 1962, Var stated that the National Legion of Decency gave the film a “B” rating (“morally objectionable in part for all”). The organization based its rating on the film’s “atmosphere of suggestiveness and sadism.” A box office report in the 5 Dec 1962 DV showed the picture earning a modest $4,200 on a double bill with the British release, Payroll (1962).
Copyright material credits Seton I. Miller as co-screenplay writer, Ed Curtiss as film editor, and Eugene Lourie as associate producer/production designer; Miller and Curtiss do not receive screen credit; Lourie is credited on screen as art director. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Nov 1960
p. 4.
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1960
p. 9.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1961
p. 10.
Daily Variety
5 Oct 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
12 Oct 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
27 Oct 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1961
p. 6.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
5 Dec 1962
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
14 Oct 1961
Section A, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
18 Oct 1961
Section C, p. 7
Variety
6 Jan 1960
p. 59.
Variety
4 Oct 1961
p. 11.
Variety
11 Oct 1961
p. 26.
Variety
25 Oct 1961
p. 4.
Variety
9 May 1962
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Albert Zugsmith Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
Set construction
Prop master
Constr supv
Stunt dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Confessions of an English Opium-eater, in London Magazine by Thomas De Quincey (Sep-Oct 1821).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Souls for Sale
Secrets of a Soul
Release Date:
June 1962
Production Date:
began 2 October 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Photoplay Associates
Copyright Date:
27 April 1962
Copyright Number:
LP21768
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
85
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In the early 1900's, a Chinese junk smuggles slave girls into San Francisco's Chinatown to be sold at auction. George Wah, a crusading newspaper editor and tong leader, attempts to save the girls but fails when a rival tong appears. He escapes with the help of Lotus, one of the slave girls, who herself manages to escape. The supposition that Wah is dead precipitates a tong war. Adventurer Gil De Quincey arrives to help Wah by joining a rival tong led by Ruby Low, who secretly has killed and is impersonating Tang, the real tong leader. At the underground auction, Wah, disguised as an elderly man, buys Lotus, who has been recaptured, for a large amount of opium. Gil, in the meantime, has found his way to the room with the help of a Chinese "slave child." Wah and Gil are exposed, but an explosion helps them escape to a labyrinth of tunnels. In a subsequent struggle in a drain under the city streets, Gil and Ruby drown in a lovers' ... +


In the early 1900's, a Chinese junk smuggles slave girls into San Francisco's Chinatown to be sold at auction. George Wah, a crusading newspaper editor and tong leader, attempts to save the girls but fails when a rival tong appears. He escapes with the help of Lotus, one of the slave girls, who herself manages to escape. The supposition that Wah is dead precipitates a tong war. Adventurer Gil De Quincey arrives to help Wah by joining a rival tong led by Ruby Low, who secretly has killed and is impersonating Tang, the real tong leader. At the underground auction, Wah, disguised as an elderly man, buys Lotus, who has been recaptured, for a large amount of opium. Gil, in the meantime, has found his way to the room with the help of a Chinese "slave child." Wah and Gil are exposed, but an explosion helps them escape to a labyrinth of tunnels. In a subsequent struggle in a drain under the city streets, Gil and Ruby drown in a lovers' embrace. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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