148 minutes of propoganda and fake Asians

Dragon Seed is a 1944 war drama film starring Katharine Hepburn. Based on a best-selling book by Pearl S. Buck, the film portrays a peaceful village in China that has been invaded by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese war. The men in the village choose to adopt a peaceful attitude toward their conquerors, but Jade (played by Hepburn), a headstrong woman, stands up to the Japanese. (wiki)
All I know is that I cracked at about 1 hour in, started singing narration to the movie right before the 2 hour mark, and nearly missed the movie ending, feeling like there was never a time before this movie started. I'm just grateful I had a friend* to survive another ridiculous movie from the Katharine Hepburn collection I got last Christmas (see also: Sylvia Scarlett).

Anyway, it's a really long movie that takes about 45 minutes at the beginning to blandly develop the main core of characters as if to prove that Chinese people are people too. Except the main characters are all played in yellowface. Facepalm.

With all the subtlety and accuracy of a Harriet Beecher Stowe novel, I give you narrated stills from what has to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen:

Not one of these actors are Asian. Except maybe the baby.

Spot the one that doesn't fit.

The one on the right played Clarence the Angel in It's a Wonderful Life. My soul just died.

At least the children are Asian?

The two guys sandwiching Akim Tamiroff (whose accent was at least Russian and not faux-Chinese) got some lines. It was incredible.

I think Kate was trying to harness a demure and wifely attitude, but instead her performance was creepy and stilted.

Japanese soldiers after a self-sacrificing mother proving that mustaches are an international sign of villianry.

What I felt like watching this movie.

This baby was the only thing that entertained me for the last hour of this movie. Um, the poor thing is in a basket.

I think I was supposed to get some message that even the good guys can get caught up in the carnage of war. All I got was "this guy is frightening. Also, not Asian."

This attractive bespectacled soldier comes to the door at about 105 minutes into the movie for a total of 10 seconds. I should state that Dragon Seed's plot, as described in synopsis, all happens after this point, but I honestly stopped paying attention. This moment was the last time I felt pleased about anything in this movie, and I'm really only writing about Dragon Seed to let other people know that there exists a movie in which Katharine Hepburn is playing a Chinese woman. You're welcome.

*Thanks, Margaux!


  1. hahaha oh boy I think I'll pass on this one.

  2. Isn't it amazing how there were NO Asian actors back in those days?? I'm so glad Katherine could step in and fill in that gap for them... :P

  3. Excellent choice of screen caps. Excellent. haha