Bitter Tea of General Yen
Nils Asther and Barbara Stanwyck in an era-defying story of mixed-race love between a hostage American missionary and a Chinese bandit warlord. Directed by Frank Capra in 1933.
This movie is sometimes called "Sternberg-meets-Capra" because of the lush camera work from Joseph Walker, but the forward motion of the tale hurtles along like a Capra film, not like any Sternberg movie (Sternberg hardly refuses a chance to linger for extended lengths over something that catches his visual fancy).
There are overlapping qualities in the two films, though. General Yen followed in the wake left by Sternberg's popular Shanghai Express, which came out nearly a year earlier, and spawned imitation in Hollywood.
Though Warner Oland's character (from Shanghai Express) and Walter Connelly's character (General Yen) bear similarities (they're both mischievous and tricky), there is a huge gulf between the Marlene Dietrich prostitute that heads up Shanghai, versus the naive missionary played by Barbara Stanwyck in General Yen.
Original Page Dec 2013