55 Days at Peking 1963

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(89) 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 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 Starz
Rental release 7 April 2014
Main languages English

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By F. S. L'hoir TOP 1000 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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18 of 18 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By SJ SMART on 7 Jan. 2010
Format: Audio CD
This is one of my all time favourite Charlton Heston film and depicts a rare episode of International co-operation before the days of the UN, NATO, etc. The film is set in the 1900 "Boxer" Rebellion in China and shows the seige of the International embassies and legations in Peking by a huge force of Chinese Boxer forces and later the Chinese Armies. The small embassy guards from the USA, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, Austria and Russia (along with Chinese volunteers) are forced to co-operate and pool resources in order to survive and hold out. Which they do for 55 days!

This epic film has some great battle scenes in the days before CGI they built a huge set and got thousands of extras, and great performance from screen legends like Charlton Heston, Ava Gardener and David Niven.

I loved the ending when the relief forces finally come to the rescue, each nationality represented with their own martial music and national characteristics. The British come with bag pipe playing Highlanders and Sikh Cavalry, the Italians at the run march, the Japanese with quiet dignity, etc. Its a classic film

A great film!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Selitrenny on 7 Dec. 2011
Format: Audio CD
Many have asked why "55 Days in Peking" or other movies like "El Cid", "The Fall of the Roman Empire" or again "Circus World" did not receive a proper Hollywood treatment...

The answer is simple. They were all Samuel Bronston's productions, and Mr. Bronston was at odds with the Hollywood establishment of the time.
Hollywood can be a very jealous and unforgiving "lover". If you do not strictly play by their rules, they may hold a grudge on you... for years.
Just look at what happened to Darryl Zanuck, the creator of 20th Century-Fox himself, in the early-mid sixties and you will see that those gentlemen
do not joke around...

If this is still the case is a question for the savvy (I would doubt it after all these years...). Yet it is known that once you're out, you're out.
Hollywood very seldom grants a second chance.

See also the example of some Orson Welles movies which have also been re-released recently, but just by a Korean and Portuguese distribution companies.

In the case of Bronston's pictures, only two ("El Cid" and "The Fall of the Roman Empire") have seen a recent revival through a privately owned distributor in the U.S. called The Miriam Collection (The Weinstein Company), which has restored and remastered them both back to their original glory.

Some years ago they announced other titles of this series to be re-released in this fashion, but alas, thus far none of the others received this treatment.

Let's hope in a better future next way round.

In any case, don't doubt the Korean distributions, nor, for this matter the Brazilian (Portuguese) ones. I already own a few and can guarantee that they stand at par with other products made both in Europe as well as in the United States.
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