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"The Bitter Tea of General Yen" is a pre-code film directed by Frank Capra ("Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"), and starring Barbara ('If someone from my disadvantaged background has risen to success, others should be able to prosper without government intervention or assistance') Stanwyck. I'm watching this film out of a corner of one eye I while I do other things - the stereotypes are howlingly bad. Here's General Yen: <--- Nils Asther, a Swedish actor. On the other hand, last night, I actually watched "Dr. No" (1962) for the first time in decades - in nearly 30 years, not much progress was made in the stereotype department. <--- Joseph Wiseman, a Canadian actor. And here's yet another Chinaman: Kwai Chang Caine in "Kung Fu" (1972-1975): <--- David Carradine, an American actor (he died in Thailand, FWIW).
There are currently two versions of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" available on Amazon - the original 1939 version, and the 2014 release from the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center, with damaged parts repaired. The former is $3.99 to rent; the latter is $2.99 - I decided to save a buck and leave the original version for film historians (which I would love to be, but there are only so many things you can do in a single life). The big names in this film are Jimmy Stewart (newly appointed Mississippi Senator, Jefferson Smith), Jean Arthur (Clarissa Saunders), and Claude Rains (the other Mississippi Senator, Joe Paine). I have never seen this movie before, and am about to start watching it now. If you look at the bottom of the second page of opening credits, there's someone named Baby Dumpling (it turns out he's one of Governor "Happy" Hopper's *eight* children). When Governor Hopper flipped the coin after consulting with his children, I pretty much knew what was going to happen, but it was still a fun moment to watch. There's a goof when Hopper tries to convince the Good Old Boys Club about the virtues of Jeff Smith (a boy scout leader) - he says, "He can recite Washington and Lincoln by heart" (something his children told him), but then a moment later, Senator Payne says "recites Lincoln and Jefferson ...." - it's unimportant, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't in the script, because no mention was previously made of Jefferson. When Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) first appears at the "star-spangled banquet" in front of the Mississippi citizens, while listening to his speech, I thought of two people: Brooks Robinson (see Roy Firestone's video - *now* I understand what he meant when he said "a young Jimmy Stewart"), and to a lesser degree, a certain unnamed politician from today's era who seems to be extremely anti-corruption, although the cynicism of today's politician is understandably already in place. It was very interesting to see Union Station circa 1939, equally interesting to see Smith's initial tour of Washington, DC's monuments. It was also touching to see an elderly gentleman of color remove his hat at the Lincoln Memorial; I wish they had chosen someone with darker skin, however - I guess sometimes, you have to take what you can get. At least the porters at Union Station were dark-skinned, sigh. I wonder if the first restaurant/bar scene is in the Old Ebbitt Grill (or, could it have been Mr. Smith's?) Is there a painting of a horse race in Old Ebbitt Grill? Mr. Smith's "revenge scene" against the press was hilarious* - it was perfect! As was the line, "The dopes are going to inherit the Earth." Hoo, boy, the restaurant scene with Clarissa Saunders and Diz Moore got to be drawn out, tedious, and boring - this scene was the very first part of the movie I really didn't like. However, I suppose it was necessary as a build-up for the following scene in Smith's office. It's cute in some of the scenes with Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur, the score begins playing "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair" - the Lincoln Memorial scene after The Betrayal is one example. The ending of this movie is incredible, and it's more timely now than it was in 1939. Is it corny? Parts of it are, but so what - every single person in this country of voting age (and even a couple of years younger than voting age) should see this film. I loved it. And I *love* that there are several, perhaps a couple dozen, movies of this caliber that I've never before seen - I have a lot to look forward to. The actors and actresses were just about perfectly selected, and Jimmy Stewart fully deserved his Best Actor Academy Award nomination - he was wonderful.