55 Days at Peking 1963

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(65) IMDb 6.8/10
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The courage and leadership of U.S. Marine (Charlton Heston) and British Ambassador (David Niven) are the only hope against insurmountable odds, while a beautiful Russian Countess (Ava Gardner) must choose between freedom and commitment.

Starring:
Yuen Siu Tien, Ava Gardner
Rental Formats:
DVD, Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 2 hours 27 minutes
Starring Yuen Siu Tien, Ava Gardner, Paul Lukas, Flora Robson, Elizabeth Sellars, John Ireland, Charlton Heston, David Niven, Geoffrey Bayldon
Director Nicholas Ray, Andrew Marton
Genres Drama
Studio Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
Rental release 7 April 2014
Main languages English
Discs
  • Feature parental_guidance
Runtime 2 hours 27 minutes
Starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, David Niven, Flora Robson, John Ireland, Paul Lukas, Elizabeth Sellars, Yuen Siu Tien, Geoffrey Bayldon
Director Nicholas Ray, Andrew Marton
Genres Drama
Studio Starz
Rental release 7 April 2014
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By F. S. L'hoir TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 April 2009
Format: Audio CD
This epic, set in China at the beginning of the twentieth century, has everything: top-notch Hollywood stars, including David Niven, Charlton Heston and Ava Gardner--to all appearances, still in their prime; magnificent costumes and sets; high production standards; thrilling action scenes, and a cast of thousands without computer generation. In fact, they just don't make 'em like this anymore!

Particularly memorable are the opening scenes in which each of the foreign legations at Peking--including the British, French, German, American, Russian, and Japanese [all the usual suspects] are raising their flags at dawn, to a cacophony of competing national anthems (a scene echoed at the end, when after pulling together for 55 days against a common enemy--the Harmonious Fists, or Boxers--the besieged foreigners revert ominously to their separatist ways. Equally interesting are the scenes in the beautifully recreated Forbidden City at the court of the Manchu Empress, whom the incomparable Flora Robsen invests with sympathy as well as inscrutability. Robert Helpmann, the great premier danseur of the Royal Ballet, plays the sinister prince Tuan, and Leo Genn performs the role of his rival, the general Wen Lu, who has conducted a secret love affair with the enchanting Russian Countess (Gardner), whose reputation has been consequently ruined [It seems to me that some of Genn's scenes have unfortunately been cut or lost with the passage of time].

The transfer to DVD is sharp and does not seem to have diminished in color, and the sound is excellent with one important exception. Lamentably, Dimtri Tiomkin's musical score, which accompanies the opening titles has not been re-mastered properly, and it sounds tinny and wobbles slightly off tune.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Trevor William Douglas on 19 Feb 2010
Format: DVD
This if by far the best print of 55 Days At Peking I have ever seen. With the Intermission included and great song at the end. Beautiful wide-screen transfer with brilliant colours as well as audio. Thoroughly recommended.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Pilou on 11 April 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
55 Days at Peking is already one of these classics all lovers of such should or will have in their DVD library. But the Blu Ray version is something else. I received mine yesterday and as I started to watch the movie I simply couldn't stop marveling at the sharp details, the vivid colours and the stunning level of granularity of the Blu Ray transfer.

A must-have in my opinion.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The CinemaScope Cat TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Jun 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
A domestic sect called Boxers take it upon themselves to terrorize the foreign element in 1900 China. The Dowager Empress (Flora Robson) unofficially supports their attempts to ouster the foreigners (colonialism was still very much part of the landscape) who all reside in a guarded compound. But the league of nations under the leadership of a British diplomat (David Niven) stands its ground. It's just a matter of time before a full out rebellion begins. One of the last of the great movie epics, this is the kind of movie making that we'll never see the likes of again. The producer Samuel Bronston actually built the entire city of Peking in Spain and there are no CGI effects. When you see see a thousand Chinese attacking the compound, those are a thousand humans not 100 people multiplied via CGI to look like a thousand. Though the film's sympathies lie with the foreign legations, the screenplay allows us to see the Chinese point of view and their frustration at how foreign powers are dividing up China like a pie. The romantic narrative between a U.S. Marine (Charlton Heston) and a Russian baroness (Ava Gardner) isn't very compelling but the action set pieces are first rate. I'm not sure how much of the film can be called a Nicholas Ray film. Though he is the only credited director, there are allegations the film was finished by other hands when he had a breakdown. Whatever ... it remains an enjoyable picture of its kind. A marvelous score by Dimitri Tiomkin. With John Ireland, Leo Genn, Paul Lukas, Harry Andrews, Kurt Kasznar, Elizabeth Sellars, Robert Helpmann and Jacques Sernas.

The Anchor Bay blu is a stunning wide screen transfer from a 70 millimeter negative of the original Roadshow release.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By HAYLYN on 13 Jun 2014
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This review is a technical issue as the story of the film has been covered well by other reviewers.
Lovely transfer to High Definition of the film, vision and sound..However the disc,released by Anchor Bay is bare bones and no extras at all, not even a trailer, except, a comparison between the original negative and the restoration. However, it's the film that is the most important. All the Samuel Bronston block busters have now been done on B/R.
This is how an epic should be made. Good crew, art direction, excellent script with dry humour intersperced within the dramatics.Thousands of extras, top stars, acting and not just speaking the lines. Massive sets, being destroyed with no computer enhancements. To boot, music by Dimitri Tiomkin that varies with the action on screen, not wall to wall music composed for modern films, that one could fit into any film genre. This film and many others of the period have stood up for around 50 years, I wonder if in 50 years time wether films made today, will be restored for the then modern audiences. I have just watched the film again and it's one heck of an thrilling, epic adventure. You could not wish for a better quality transfer.John Paul Jones [DVD] [1959] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Haylyn UK
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