East Is West (1922)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Janiss Garza

Although it sounds ludicrous to slap a black wig on vivacious blonde Constance Talmadge and try to pass her off as a Chinese maiden, somehow it worked in this picture, which was based on the famed play by Samuel Shipman and John B. Hymes. Talmadge didn't look particularly Asian -- and it really shows when she's hugging some real Chinese children -- but her personality managed to carry the humorous parts of the film well enough so that this could be overlooked. Helping out was Warner Oland, who practically stole the show -- although he is of Swedish birth, he made a career of playing Asians (and actually looked the part). In the early 1930s his name was synonymous with fictional detective Charlie Chan, who he played in a series of films. Ming Toy (Talmadge) is about to be sold into slavery when she's saved by Billy Benson, a handsome young American (Edward Burns). She lands in San Francisco, where Charlie Yong, the king of Chinatown (Oland) decides he wants her for himself. His attempts to kidnap her are foiled by Benson, who takes her home. His parents (Winter Hall and Lillian Lawrence) are horrified at the thought that their son is in love with an Asian woman. But it turns out that Ming Toy is really a white girl, stolen from a missionary couple (which explains why she looked so strange next to all the other Chinese folks), so the parents give the young couple their blessing. This picture was remade as a talkie in 1930, this time starring fiery Latina Lupe Velez as the Chinese girl.



America, beauty [physical], custody, damsel-in-distress, home, kidnapping, life, marriage, parent, proposal [romantic], rescue, slavery, toddlers, victim