Wednesday, May 29, 2024

A Movie You Might Have Missed #96 — The Good Earth (1937)

China, during the rule of the Qing Dynasty. The arranged marriage between Wang Lung, a humble farmer, and O-Lan, a domestic slave, will endure the many hardships of life over the years; but the temptations of a fragile prosperity will endanger their love and the survival of their entire family.

Wow, Louise Ranier definitely earned her Oscar! What a performance! She was also my favorite performer in The Zigfeld Follies for which she also earned an Oscar. To be fair, everyone gave top notch performances. This is the sort of movie that doesn't usually appeal to me - long dramatic sagas of families struggling to survive, especially since I'd read the book long ago and hadn't liked it much. This sold it though. By the end I was loving it.

I've seen plenty of negative comments about the fact that 1937 movie standards meant white actors portrayed Chinese characters, which would never be done these days. However, I've learned, as I read tons of old literature, that we have to keep the cultural ideas of the past in mind instead of rushing to judge by our standards. So let's just talk about the movie as it tells the story.

As I watched I kept thinking of the intended 1937 audience and how exotic and interesting this would have been to them. In fact, despite how it seems to dismissive viewers today, I feel it probably humanized the Chinese to Americans in a very positive way. Farmers certainly would've understood this family's struggles.

This was the last of the movies we viewed for the 1938 Oscar winner and nominees. It is the movie we'd have given the Oscar to, hands down. The winner, The Life of Emile Zola, is a movie that landed at the bottom of the list no matter what else we watched.

I'm really glad we embarked on Oscar project. I've seen so many movies I'd never have known I liked otherwise. This is one.


Here's my list of all the Oscar movies we have watched. Here are the ones we liked so much that I reviewed them here to tempt you into trying them.

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