The Bitter Tea of General Yen

Watch The Bitter Tea of General Yen

"They found a love they dared not touch!"
  • Approved
  • 1933
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 6.9  (4,210)

The Bitter Tea of General Yen is a 1932 drama film directed by Frank Capra and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Nils Asther, and Toshia Mori. The movie is set in 1920s China, during the country's civil war, and the story revolves around an American missionary named Megan Davis (Barbara Stanwyck) who travels to Shanghai to marry her fiancé, a missionary named Dr. Robert Strife (Gavin Gordon).

However, things take a dramatic turn when Megan's train is stopped by a group of soldiers led by General Yen (Nils Asther), a powerful warlord who kidnaps Megan and takes her to his palace. Despite the initial animosity between them, Megan and Yen develop a complicated relationship, as Yen reveals his charismatic and philosophical side, and Megan starts to question her own beliefs and values.

As Megan's stay in the palace prolongs, she witnesses firsthand the cultural clashes and the socio-political turmoil that China is facing at the time. The contrasts between East and West are highlighted, as Megan struggles to reconcile her own Christian beliefs with the ancient Confucianism and Taoism practiced by Yen and his followers. The film portrays a remarkable contrast between the opulence and decadence of the palace and the poverty and suffering of the Chinese people outside its walls.

The movie is notable for its sensitive portrayal of the relationship between Megan and Yen. The romance between an American woman and an Asian man was groundbreaking for its time, and it received mixed reactions from the audience and critics. However, the movie manages to convey the complexity of their relationship without resorting to stereotypes or clichés, and it explores themes of racial identity and cultural misunderstanding.

Barbara Stanwyck gives an outstanding performance as Megan, delivering a nuanced portrayal of a woman caught between her duty as a missionary and her feelings for Yen. Nils Asther is equally impressive as General Yen, imbuing his character with a sense of mystery and depth, as well as a certain vulnerability that makes him more than just a ruthless warlord.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen stands out as a rare example of Hollywood's attempts to explore international themes and cultures in the early 1930s. The film was a critical success upon its release, but it was not a commercial success, as it failed to recoup its production costs. Nevertheless, the movie has gained a cult following over the years, and it is considered a classic of pre-Code Hollywood cinema.

In conclusion, The Bitter Tea of General Yen is a captivating drama that explores themes of culture clash, race, and love. Through its sensitive portrayal of the relationship between Megan and Yen, the movie manages to convey a sense of empathy and understanding for the complexities of human emotions and cultural identity. It is a must-see for anyone interested in the classic Hollywood era and the exploration of international themes in cinema.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen is a 1933 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9.

The Bitter Tea of General Yen
Where to Watch The Bitter Tea of General Yen
The Bitter Tea of General Yen is available to watch free on Tubi TV. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Bitter Tea of General Yen for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (4,210)