55 Days at Peking (1963)


“You have to admire Sir Arthur; he always manages to give the impression that God must be an Englishman.” – German Ambassador

Number of Times Seen – 1 (14 Jul 2020)

Brief Synopsis – During the turn of the 20th Century, the Chinese rebel forces in Peking begin a siege on the International compound and the soldiers and politicians inside try to decide how to handle such a situation.

My Take on it – I have always been a fan of epic films and have been wanting to see this movie for a while but it’s long run time has constantly kept me away.

This is a great epic film that works on numerous levels.

Charlton Heston is always great in these ind of films and truly stands out in the lead role.

We can easily see the viewpoint of the soldier thru his eyes especially given the circumstances and situation that they find themselves in.

David Niven is also perfectly cast here in the role of the British Ambassador and gives his character so much purpose.

In addition, this film is able to give us the perspective of politicians on the various situations.

This allows us to see the way that both the Chinese politicians and the foreign politicians interpreted the events that transpire in very diverse ways due to their different viewpoints on it all.

This film isn’t able to develop the characters very well and most of them, soldier and politician alike all come across as being very shallow.

Given the scope of the film tho, we still get a nice understanding of the various positions of these men and women on both sides of the conflict.

The action scenes play out really well in showing the escalating danger of the situation for these besieged people.

The love story aspect of things is quite weak and feel too tacked on.

The story is able to easily transport us back in time to a time and place where this conflict raged.

The look and feel of early 20th century China is quite apparent throughout and adds to making things so much more entertaining to watch unfold.

Bottom Line – Great epic film that works quite well. Heston is perfectly cast in the lead role and allows us to see the viewpoint of soldiers during those days and under those kind of circumstances. The film also gives us the political viewpoint of things and we get to learn how both the Chinese political system and the foreign one deal with similar situations from different perspectives. The characters are unfortunately not developed well enough, but given the scope of this film, we still get a nice understanding of the kind of men and women on both sides of this conflict. The story easily transports us back in time to the look and feel of China around 1900 and that helps make things even more entertaining to watch unfold. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – In China, at the time, working as a professional mining engineer, future President of the United States Herbert Hoover and his wife were civilians under siege at the foreign legations’ compound. The future first Lady, Louise “Lou” Henry Hoover, collected shrapnel from Boxer artillery that is on display at the Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa. The Hoovers picked up Mandarin Chinese while in China and used it at the White House when they didn’t want to be overheard. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (7/10)

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2 thoughts on “55 Days at Peking (1963)

  1. Saw this film with my father when I was a kid. Like you, big fan of epics. This was a great story. Movie overall could’ve been better (subplot with the Countess and the soldier with the half-Asian daughter were good but underdeveloped). But there’s a lot going on with all the delegations Clearly, the Americans and Brits (Heston and Niven) come off the best.The action was very good. The villains a bit moustach swirling, but effective. I can still hum the theme music.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Movies Reviewed Index A-Z | MovieRob

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