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on 10 April 2014
Two days ago I saw a so called Epic movie, Noah, probablg the worst movie i've seen, so seeing this again is like a ray of sunshine after 40 days and nights of rain. I'm not going to go into the plot, others have already done that well enough. What you may want to know, is it worth buying again in blu ray? My answer is---YES! It looks wonderfull!
For the first time i noticed the magnificent costumes of the chinese. The settings stand out like 3D, except better than 3D as i have never liked that, far too many gimicks for me. Only one disapoinment, no DTS sound, a great pity as the restorers have done a superb job. This is a movie I have always enjoyed, not really 5 stars, perhaps 4? But after Noah which I would give minus 10, and the beautifull restoraton it now deserves five. Wonderfull!

I wrote this review while playing the blu ray disc for the first time, I had not set the sound. While not being DTS, they have resored it to 5-1 and it 's terrific, sounds as good as DTS to me. So if you like this movie I strongly recomend the blu ray. Thank you to all those reviewers who have steered me on to the best of blu ray.
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on 19 February 2015
55 DAYS AT PEKING [1963] [Blu-ray] Romantic Adventure! Exciting Action!

A sweeping story of loyalty and love; as a small group of foreigners are trapped inside the Forbidden City of Peking, under siege by thousands of Chinese fanatics. The courage and leadership of a US Marine [Charlton Heston] and the British Ambassador [David Niven] are the only hope against unsurmountable odds, while a beautiful Russian Countess [Ava Gardner] must choose between freedom and commitment.

Samuel Bronston's '55 Days at Peking' is an unforgettable tale of un-parallel fury, brought to life with passion, romance, and violence of a historic time.

FILM FACT: The film received two Academy Award® nominations for Dimitri Tiomkin for Best Original Song and Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. Original Music Score. In addition to directing, Nicholas Ray plays the minor role of the head of the American diplomatic mission in China. This film is also the first known appearance of future martial arts film star Yuen Siu Tien. Japanese film director Juzo Itami, credited in the film as Ichizo Itami, appears as Colonel Goro Shiba. Most of the starring Chinese roles, including the Empress Dowager and her Prime Minister, are played by white performers. The Japanese in the foreign legation are played by Asian actors, but they have relatively minor roles. This film was originally distributed by The Rank Organisation.

Cast: Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, David Niven, Flora Robson, John Ireland, Harry Andrews, Leo Genn, Robert Helpmann, Kurt Kasznar, Philippe Leroy, Paul Lukas, Elizabeth Sellars, Massimo Serato, Jacques Sernas, Jerome Thor, Geoffrey Bayldon, Joseph Fürst, Walter Gotell, Jûzô Itami, Mervyn Johns, Alfredo Mayo, Martin Miller, Conchita Montes, José Nieto, Eric Pohlmann, Aram Stephan, Robert Urquhart, Lynne Sue Moon, Burt Kwouk (old man voice), Lucy Appleby (uncredited), R.S.M. Brittain (uncredited), Carlos Casaravilla (uncredited), Michael Chow (uncredited), Michael Chow (uncredited), Siu Loi Chow (uncredited), Félix Dafauce (uncredited), Andrea Esterhazy (uncredited), Nicholas Ray (US Minister uncredited), Robert Rietty (Spanish Minister (voice) uncredited) and Fernando Sancho (Belgian Minister uncredited)

Directors: Nicholas Ray, Guy Green and Andrew Marton

Producer: Samuel Bronston

Screenplay: Bernard Gordon, Philip Yordan, Robert Hamer (additional dialogue) and Ben Barzman (uncredited)

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin

Cinematography: Jack Hildyard

Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Super Technirama 70]

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 2.0 Digital Dolby Stereo

Subtitles: None

Running Time: 166 minutes

Region: Region B/2

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Hollywood filmmaking took a turn in 1953, when Twentieth Century-Fox released ‘The Robe,’ its first CinemaScope picture. Historical epics had been popular since silent-movie days, but the enormous size and scale offered by innovative Super Technirama 70 widescreen technology seemed made to order for an industry now in hot competition with television. Before long everyone from Douglas Sirk’s ‘Sign of the Pagan’ [1954] to Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Spartacus’ [1960] was working on an eye-filling spectacle with a historical theme, and producer Samuel Bronston made them his personal mission, building a studio complex in Spain that was sprawling enough to accommodate the gazillions of stars, extras, and technicians the genre required. Samuel Bronston produced five historical epics during the early 1960s, starting with ‘King of Kings’ and ‘El Cid’ in 1961 and ending with ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’ and ‘Circus World’ three years later. None brought more problems to its makers than the 1963 production ‘55 Days at Peking’ and directed by Nicholas Ray in Super Technirama 70 with Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and David Niven in the leads.

The story takes place during the Boxer Rebellion, which shook China at the turn of the twentieth century. Angry about foreign powers, imperialist land grabs, and Christian evangelists posing threats to traditional Chinese culture, the ultraconservative Boxers persuaded the ruling Qing Dynasty to drive out the countries responsible for these influences. In the year 1900 a multitude of Boxers swarmed into Peking, as Beijing was then known by Westerners, and drove the foreigners and Chinese Christians living there into a single small area, aided by an influx of government troops. The besieged diplomats, soldiers, and citizens held off their attackers for fifty-five days, until fighters sent by an alliance of eight nations came to the rescue arriving in the nick of time like cavalries in an old-fashioned western, according to the film's version of these harrowing events.

`55 Days at Peking' focuses on three main characters. Charlton Heston plays Matt Lewis, the tough-as-nails American major who takes command of a 500-man defence unit inside the diplomatic compound. David Niven plays Sir Arthur Robertson, the good-natured British ambassador who votes to stay in Peking when all the other diplomats are eager to pack their things and go. Ava Gardner plays Natalie Ivanoff, a fading Russian baroness with a checked past her infidelity drove her husband to kill himself and a newfound capacity for sacrifice. The most compelling secondary characters are Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi [Flora Robson], the reigning monarch whose support is crucial to the Boxers' campaign, and Prince Tuan [Robert Helpmann], a schemer who's more interested in power than in the dynasty's long-term wellbeing. Also on hand are Sargent Harry [John Ireland], who serves Lewis as a sort of conscience, Dr. Steinfeldt [Paul Lukas], a seasoned physician trying to keep the wounded Westerners alive, and Teresa [Lynne Sue Moon], a Chinese-American child orphaned by the conflict.

Producer Samuel Bronston had grand ambitions for ‘55 Days at Peking,’ and the film represents the epic moviemaking that characterised the golden age of Hollywood. The battle sequences are stunning in their scope, and Beijing was re-created in elaborate and enormous sets. Although these features drew much praise, they drove up production costs and contributed to the film's losing money despite its success at the box office. Other production troubles included director Nicholas Ray's walking off the set near the end of filming. Andrew Morton and Guy Green completed the movie, though they were uncredited. A first-rate cast is marred only by the use of Western actors as Asian characters. Also to note, is Dimitri Tiomkin's brilliant and stunning film score.

But the film remains in memory for its flashing movement and fireworks. The producers were sensible enough to keep the dialogue, which is often banal, to a minimum. Although it was all done in and around Madrid, the sound and fury and beauty of these momentous ‘55 Days at Peking' are brought vividly to life. Most of the principals and their stories are not.

Blu-ray Video Quality – Anchor Bay UK's Region B/2 Blu-ray of `55 Days at Peking' is a very good 1080p encoded image sourced from a 2013 restoration and exceedingly brilliant 2.35:1 [Super Technirama 70] aspect ratio. It comes complete with long overture, intermission and exit music. The clean image has vivid colours, even if some scenes appear on the weak side, with the density perhaps a bit light. The Anchor Bay Blu-ray disc of `55 Days At Peking' is yet another classic offering available only in Region B/2. The price is totally brilliant and can't be beaten, that's for sure. I suppose a Region A/1 release could turn up sometime in the near future, especially for the U.S.A. film fans.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – `55 Days at Peking' blasts onto Blu-ray with a steady dynamic 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The audio is superb on this release, with a deep, rich sound that helps submerge viewers into the action and drama. Dialogue is always crisp and clear, remaining intelligible in even the most action-laden portions. Essentially, the audio track makes full use of the variety of speakers housed in high definition via your Home Cinema set-up and works really well to create a rich and fulfilling experience for audiences' ears!

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Special Feature: Restoration Extra [1080p] Here you get to see the difference in image quality via 3 Chapters. With this brilliant demonstration, you first get to see the 8 perforation Original Camera Negative and then you get compare the 35mm Reduction Negative. With the 8 perforation Original Camera Negative you get to see a crisp stunning sharp image, which is really enhanced on this Blu-ray disc. Whereas the 35mm Reduction Negative the image is very soft warm colours and not very sharp and of course seeing it in 1080p makes the image it look even worse. The whole demonstration is totally silent, which is a crying shame, as I would have liked to compare to see if there was any difference in the audio clarity. The Image Restoration was done by Pinewood Studios in the UK and was restored in 2013 from the 8 perforation Original Camera Negative, which is the aspect ratio 2.35:1 [Super Technirama 70].

Special Feature: Playout Music: The Peking Theme "So Little Time" and was recorded by Andy Williams. The words were composed by Paul Francis Webster. Paul Francis Webster [20th December, 1907 – 18th March, 1984] and was an American lyricist who won three Academy Awards® for Best Song and was nominated sixteen times for the award. Music was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin. The name Dimitri Tiomkin calls forth the image of one of Hollywood’s most distinguished and best-loved composers. Whether the genre was Westerns, drama, comedy, film noir, adventure, or war documentary, Dimitri Tiomkin’s visceral, dramatic underscores helped bring more than 100 feature films to vivid life. The list of respected directors who continuously called on his services is impressive: Frank Capra, Howard Hawks, and Alfred Hitchcock among them.

Bonus Information: The Title Background Paintings were produced by Dong Kingman. Dong Kingman was a Chinese American artist and one of America's leading watercolour masters. As a painter on the forefront of the California Style School of painting, he was known for his urban and landscape paintings, as well as his graphic design work in the Hollywood film industry. He has won widespread critical acclaim and his works are included in over 50 public and private collections worldwide, including Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Brooklyn Museum; DeYoung Museum and Art Institute, Chicago.

Finally, it is hard to deny that `55 Days in Peking' is short on psychological depth and historical accuracy, and the dialogue contains the kind of insensitive racial comments that have become mercifully rare today. Still, the visuals are as arresting as ever and it's no wonder that reviewer after reviewer has praised the spectacular fireworks, especially at the climax and the film vividly represents a bygone age of international spectaculars that made up in extravagance what they sometimes lacked in coherence and common sense. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
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on 25 June 2016
'55 Days at Peking' is a great example of 1960s Hollywood epic cinema: big frame-filling visuals, hundreds of on-screen extras (no CGI), lush Technicolor images, a stirring score, plenty of action and stunning sets and locations. And quality acting (often cheesy) from dependable stars of the silver screen. This awesome, restored Blu-ray edition is presented in 2.40:1 (not 2.35:1 as it says on the box), which matches the same aspect ratio for its 70mm theatrical release. It does look gorgeous, evoking memories of how ultra-wide-screen films used to look and 'feel'. The opening overture and credit sequence music sounds a little bit strident at times, but there are no issues with the central dialogue channel, which conveys speech very clearly and coherently (unlike a lot of modern-day films). This is a movie that has to be seen on the biggest screen possible to appreciate its scale and grandeur; I projected it last night on my 10' screen and was amazed by its clarity and colour rendition (as if it was filmed only yesterday). '55 Days at Peking' is from the same stable as 'El Cid', another memorable 60s epic.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 March 2012
55 Days at Peking is directed by Nicholas Ray and Andrew Marton and collectively written by Philip Yordan, Bernard Gordon, Robert Hamer and Ben Barzman. It stars Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, David Niven and Flora Robson. Music is scored by Dimitri Tiomkin and cinematography is by Jack Hildyard.

1900, Peking, China. The Boxer Rebellion. 13 of 18 provinces are under foreign rule and the Chinese have had enough. With Dowager Empress Tzu-Hsi secretly supporting the Boxer societies, the foreign powers come under attack and are forced to defend the legations' compound until reinforcements from the military arrive. The defence would last for 55 days.

Lavish, full of pictorial scope, often stirring, yet it's saggy in the middle, too long, killed Nicholas Ray's career (and nearly himself since he collapsed on set) and apparently offensive to some with its imperialistic trumpeting. It has been called the magnificent failure, and in truth that's about as apt a tag line as you could get. For production value it's up with the best of them as producer Samuel Bronston oversees the building of the wonderful Peking sets (Veniero Colasanti & John Moore) at his Madrid base, and it is a joy to behold. Tiomkin's score pings around the locale with aural pleasure and when the action does come it considerably raises the pulses.

Acting performances are mostly OK, especially when Niven and Heston share scenes as it's great to see a genuine screen presence playing off of classy elegance. Gardner, whilst not in any shape or form bad, gets one of those annoyingly dull romantic interest roles that a film of this type didn't need. It doesn't help that there is zero chemistry between Gardner and her "borderline" beau, Heston. It's no surprise to find that Heston thought Gardner was a pain during the shoot!

As for the troubling thematics? Where the Chinese are portrayed as Christian slaughtering savages and the foreign imperialists as noble defenders of the right to take over China? Well the picture does come off as trying to excuse foreign imperialism in China, but it helps to note that this is merely a movie about one event in that part of history. With that in mind, anyone viewing it expecting anything other than the 55 day siege told from the legation's viewpoint is always going to be in for a let down! And right from the off we are shown and told with a tint of sarcasm that all these "foreign" countries want a piece of China as they raise their flags and trundle out their national anthems.

The Peking Alamo? Well maybe? Best to go into it expecting your eyes and ears to be dazzled rather than your brain. 7/10

Dutch Region 2 DVD has a fine print and subtitles easily switched off.
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on 7 June 2014
Don,t make em like this any more no cgi what you see on the screen is the real deal.Lovely picture i wanted this so bad had it on laser disc many years ago and wanted a decent dvd copy and had to wait a long time and it was worth it.This is 2.35.1 ratio i am afraid there are no extras to speak of but if you have fall of the roman empire or El cid go into Samuel Bronstons films with a large amount of extras.Charlton heston,david niven are good as usual ava ok.You have to see this film in widescreen blu ray to really get the benefit of the large scale battle scenes.
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on 26 April 2014
Well after waiting many years for this to be released I could not wait for it to arrive. It arrived yesterday and when I played it I was simply blown away as it is the fully restored cinema roadshow release and includes the overture, intermission and the exit music.
They have used the original Technirama 8 Perf Negative Print in the restoration and the colours are vivid and the soundtrack is
superb and crisp especially with the surround sound speacker system I have and just like it was all those years ago when I went to see it for the first time in our local cinema. It is a well put together Blu-Ray DVD release and it is great to have in my collection of other Epic Movies from that era. A great buy and a good price I wish I could give it 10 stars not just the 5 as it deserves a higher ranking mark than that.
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on 1 November 2017
Classic one of a kind film with great actors and fantastic story line set in a very turbulent period of Chinese history. No CGI or tired done to death non-witty one liners here. Just loads of extras great scenery and great acting. Definitely don't make them like this any more.....films and actors!
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on 3 May 2014
This is an excellent transfer from Technicolor's hi res 8 perf Technirama 35mm print. The colours are vivid and the copy clean. I have always loved this movie which I saw as a teenager. I managed to catch it in Bradford some time ago in the form of a nice 70mm print (in French!) shown on their Cinerama curve. Ah, nostalgia.

We'll done to Anchor Bay. Good clear sound and presented in its intended 70 mm ratio of 2.20:1. A film that never leaves you bored.
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on 2 December 2012
An all time classic film, which depicts the struggle of the Allies against the boxer uprising in Peking at the turn of the 20th century, starring Sir David Niven and Charlton Heston, this is an all action film on an epic scale, which has been largely forgotten by film buffs, so much so that this edition is a Korean version. Once you get over the fact you have to switch off the Korean subtitles, this classic film is restored to all its glory. A great purchase and much needed as my video version was reaching the end of its life.
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on 17 October 2011
This story of Westerners trapped in Peking during the 1900 'Boxer' Rebellion in China, is an exciting politics and battles epic. The sets, battles and costumes are impressive. The cast are all great, although major chinese characters are portrayed by westerners in 'chinese' make-up (which looks cheesey and cheap to the modern film viewer), but this is easily forgiven as the action, some of it a little hokey at times, pulls you along as the multi national forces join together to survive the rebellion. A very enjoyable old-style blockbuster.
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