China Sky (1945)

78 mins | Drama | 1945

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HISTORY

The opening credits read "RKO presents Pearl Buck's China Sky. " News items in HR provide the following information about the film's long production history: RKO bought the rights to Buck's story in Sep 1941. By Feb 1942, Islin Auster was signed to produce the picture and in Apr 1942, Robert Stevenson was slated to direct it. By May 1943, Emmet Lavery was scheduled to write the screen adaptation as well as produce the film. Luise Ranier, Margo, Maureen O'Hara and Kim Hunter were all considered for female leads in the picture and Paul Henreid was considered for the male lead. At one point, David Hempstead was to produce, with Claudette Colbert playing the lead. Materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Art Library--Special Collections add that Roy Chanslor, Ketti Frings, S. K. Lauren, Robert Stevenson and Crane Wilbur all worked on versions of the screenplay, but the extent of their contribution to the released film has not been determined.
       In a NYT article, producer Maurice Geraghty stated that one reason for the film's troubled production history was the studio's opposition to the original story line in which a Chinese doctor collaborates with the Japanese enemy. In Buck's story and in the early versions of the screenplay, an embittered, anti-American Chinese doctor named Chung agrees to help the Japanese officer for money. By mid-Mar of 1944, five months before the start of production, the doctor's nationality had been changed to Japanese-Korean and his name changed to Kim. According to a HR news item, Bessie Loo, a Chinese technical advisor and interpreter, ... More Less

The opening credits read "RKO presents Pearl Buck's China Sky. " News items in HR provide the following information about the film's long production history: RKO bought the rights to Buck's story in Sep 1941. By Feb 1942, Islin Auster was signed to produce the picture and in Apr 1942, Robert Stevenson was slated to direct it. By May 1943, Emmet Lavery was scheduled to write the screen adaptation as well as produce the film. Luise Ranier, Margo, Maureen O'Hara and Kim Hunter were all considered for female leads in the picture and Paul Henreid was considered for the male lead. At one point, David Hempstead was to produce, with Claudette Colbert playing the lead. Materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Art Library--Special Collections add that Roy Chanslor, Ketti Frings, S. K. Lauren, Robert Stevenson and Crane Wilbur all worked on versions of the screenplay, but the extent of their contribution to the released film has not been determined.
       In a NYT article, producer Maurice Geraghty stated that one reason for the film's troubled production history was the studio's opposition to the original story line in which a Chinese doctor collaborates with the Japanese enemy. In Buck's story and in the early versions of the screenplay, an embittered, anti-American Chinese doctor named Chung agrees to help the Japanese officer for money. By mid-Mar of 1944, five months before the start of production, the doctor's nationality had been changed to Japanese-Korean and his name changed to Kim. According to a HR news item, Bessie Loo, a Chinese technical advisor and interpreter, was hired as assistant director to work with the Chinese extras and bit players. Anthony Quinn was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox to appear in the picture. The FD review incorrectly credits Roy Webb with music. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Apr 1945.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 45
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 May 45
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Sep 44
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 45
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 45
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Dec 44
p. 2216.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Apr 45
pp. 2413-14.
New York Times
24 Sep 1944.
---
New York Times
25 May 45
p. 22.
Variety
30 May 45
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "China Sky" by Pearl S. Buck in Collier's (1 Feb 1941).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Pearl Buck's China Sky
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 24 May 1945
Production Date:
14 August--mid October 1944
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
24 May 1945
Copyright Number:
LP13343
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78
Length(in feet):
7,028
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10391
SYNOPSIS

After eight long years of Japanese aggression, the people of China are still fighting. One of the Japanese targets is the mountain village of Wan Li, which serves as a command base and supply center for the Chinese rebel leader, Chen Ta, and his guerrilla army. At the House of Mercy American Hospital in the village, Dr. Sara Durand receives a cablegram from Dr. Gray Thompson, the hospital's chief of staff, who has gone to New York to secure equipment and supplies. Sara is heartened to learn that Gray is soon to return but saddened by the news that he is bringing his bride with him. Soon after, Chen Ta brings Colonel Yasuda, a wounded Japanese officer, to the hospital for treatment. While there, Chen Ta becomes attracted to nurse Siu Mei, who cautions him that she is betrothed to Dr. Kim. After Chen Ta departs, leaving Yasuda behind in the hospital's charge, Gray and his mink-coated wife Louise, arrive. When Japanese bombers strike, Gray places Kim, a disdainful man who despises all foreigners, in charge of Yasuda and, after escorting Louise to the bomb shelter, returns to the hospital to help Sara with the casualties. Terrified by the bombs, Louise cringes in fear, while Yasuda plays on Kim's dislike of Americans to recruit him to the Japanese cause. After the attack ends, Louise returns home and Sara comes to welcome her. Louise, worried by Sara's beauty, accuses her of being in love with her husband and informs her that she plans to return to New York with him as soon as possible. When Gray enters the room and interrupts Louise's tirade, ... +


After eight long years of Japanese aggression, the people of China are still fighting. One of the Japanese targets is the mountain village of Wan Li, which serves as a command base and supply center for the Chinese rebel leader, Chen Ta, and his guerrilla army. At the House of Mercy American Hospital in the village, Dr. Sara Durand receives a cablegram from Dr. Gray Thompson, the hospital's chief of staff, who has gone to New York to secure equipment and supplies. Sara is heartened to learn that Gray is soon to return but saddened by the news that he is bringing his bride with him. Soon after, Chen Ta brings Colonel Yasuda, a wounded Japanese officer, to the hospital for treatment. While there, Chen Ta becomes attracted to nurse Siu Mei, who cautions him that she is betrothed to Dr. Kim. After Chen Ta departs, leaving Yasuda behind in the hospital's charge, Gray and his mink-coated wife Louise, arrive. When Japanese bombers strike, Gray places Kim, a disdainful man who despises all foreigners, in charge of Yasuda and, after escorting Louise to the bomb shelter, returns to the hospital to help Sara with the casualties. Terrified by the bombs, Louise cringes in fear, while Yasuda plays on Kim's dislike of Americans to recruit him to the Japanese cause. After the attack ends, Louise returns home and Sara comes to welcome her. Louise, worried by Sara's beauty, accuses her of being in love with her husband and informs her that she plans to return to New York with him as soon as possible. When Gray enters the room and interrupts Louise's tirade, however, she feigns friendship for Sara. The air raids continue, and as Louise cowers in the shelter, Kim reassures her that the structure is secure because it houses ammunition for the guerrillas. Kim's words are overheard by Yasuda. Later that night, Louise awakens to an empty bed and hurries to the hospital, where she finds Gray and Sara and accuses them of having an affair. After she storms out of the building, Yasuda, who is aware of Kim's rivalry with Chen Ta, asks the doctor to keep him at the hospital rather than releasing him to the guerrilla leader. When Chen Ta presents Siu Mei with a bouquet of flowers, Kim decides to help Yasuda and administers medication that will make him appear ill and therefore unable to be moved. Asked by Chen Ta to treat his wounded men in the hills, Gray takes Sara and Siu Mei with him, leaving Kim in charge of the hospital. After they leave, Yasuda, who has deduced that, although Kim claims to be Korean, he is really half-Japanese, threatens to expose his ancestry unless the doctor cooperates with him. Yasuda instructs Kim to send a message in Louise's name, asking that a plane be sent to the city so that he can escape. Meanwhile, at the rebels' stronghold, Chen Ta proposes to Siu Mei, and when she responds that she is already engaged to Kim, he replies that she will never find happiness if she is unhappy in love. As Chen Ta speaks his words of wisdom to Siu Mei, Sara and Gray finally acknowledge their love for each other. Back in the village, Kim commiserates with Louise and offers to arrange for a plane to fly her home. Louise is reluctant to accept his offer until Sara returns to the hospital and chastises her for making Gray unhappy. Vowing to return home with her husband, Louise agrees to send Kim's coded request for a plane, and Little Goat, the Thompsons' servant, sees Kim hand her a slip of paper. Soon after, the bombing of the village stops. On Christmas Eve, Louise accuses Gray of showing more concern for his work than her happiness, and he reluctantly agrees to take her home. Little Goat overhears his promise and the next day at the hospital, he tells Gray and Sara about the message. Realizing that the delivery of Louise's message coincided with the cessation of the bombing, Gray goes to Yasuda's room to confront Kim. At that moment, Japanese paratroopers drop from the sky, and Kim realizes that he has been double-crossed and that Yasuda's message was not a request for a plane, but a secret code informing the Japanese about the location of the ammunition. Yasuda then shoots at the doctors and escapes, fatally wounding Kim but only grazing Gray. In the hills, Chen Ta and his men see the paratroopers and race toward the village while Thompson leads the villagers in defense of the ammunition supply. Witnessing the death and destruction that she has wrought, Louise runs out into the line of fire and is killed. After capturing Yasuda and securing the ammunition, Chen Ta promises to return for Siu Mei when peace is restored. As the air raids begin again, Sara and Gray join hands to face the bombs together. +

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

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