13 new Anna May Wong movies


(Photo courtesy Everett Collection)

Anna May Wong made her leading debut in 1922 The toll of the sea, and in the century that has passed, she is remembered as the first Asian American of multiple accolades. The first Asian-American Hollywood star. Later the first Asian American to direct a television series. The toll of the sea? The first color film available. And now, Wong is the first Asian American on US currency as part of a series of women-returned historic quarters. Wong’s top lot depicts her with her head resting on her hand as her gaze sweeps up an iconic bob haircut.

Born in Los Angeles, Wong was just 17 when she took over as head of The toll of the sea. Revitalizing the melodramatic underpinnings of Lady Butterfly, Ring is the earliest surviving color film and was considered lost until its restoration in the mid-1980s. Wong became a star in his own right in the classic 1924 fantasy The Thief of Baghdadstanding out from Douglas Fairbanks.

But disillusionment over her career prospects quickly set in, and Wong moved to Europe in search of less stereotypical role opportunities. It is a movement with echoes of the last days, like Bruce Lee leaving America for Hong Kong to begin his race towards Enter the dragonor Ke Huy Quan’s absence from the screen for decades until Everything everywhere all at once.

As reported by The Los Angeles Times, Wong explains, “I was so tired of the roles I had to play. Why is the Chinese screen almost always the bad guy in the room, and such a cruel bad guy – murderer, traitor, a snake in the grass. We’re not like that.”

In Europe, Wong released seven films in 1929 and 1930 in a mix of English, French and German films, with Picadilly the most seen. Wong was back in the United States in 1931, working mostly under contract with Paramount. The first of these films, daughter of the dragon, saw the only time Wong acted against another Asian actor of his stature, Japanese matinee idol Sessue Hayakawa. At a time, the girl starred Swedish actor Warner Oland (who would crown his yellowface career with the Charlie Chan movies) like Fu Manchu.

Filming was steady during this time, which included the Marlene Dietrich vehicle shanghai express and a acclaimed adaptation of the classic Sherlock Holmes story A study in scarlet. But Wong was fearless and candid in his public assessment of the work, describing daughter of the dragon and Oland’s Fu Manchu character as “so bad” just two years after the fact.

MGM denying him lead role in 1937 The good ground in favor of Luise Rainer led Wong to leave Hollywood again for China on what she hoped would be a journey of spiritual discovery. When she returned to Los Angeles a year later, Wong concluded, “I’m convinced that I could never perform in Chinese theater. I have no feeling. It’s a pretty sad situation to be rejected by the Chinese because I’m too American.

Wong returned to business with Paramount in his last major studio deal. girl from shanghai, The Island of the Lost Menand king of chinatown allowed her to feature more positively portrayed characters, but the films’ lack of traction with audiences convinced her to retire from serious filmmaking in 1942, at the age of 37.

There were television stints and occasional film roles over the following decades. 1951 saw the creation of Madame Liu-Tsong’s Gallery, in which Wong played a detective and became the first Asian-American actress to lead a series. The show met the same fate as most shows that aired on DuMont (one of NBC and CBS’s early rivals) – dumped in New York’s East River in the 1970s – so no scripts or full episodes of Gallery are known to exist. In 1960, Wong received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a year before his death. —Alex Vo


Adjusted score: 107445%

Consensus of critics: Buckle up: Marlene Dietrich inveigles you on the shanghai express with its fearlessness and bare-handed one-liners in this slick pre-code melodrama.

Synopsis: In Beijing, China, during a civil war, British Captain Donald Harvey (Clive Brook) meets his old flame Magdalen (Marlene Dietrich)… [More]


Adjusted score: 106111%

Consensus of critics: It takes some viewing commitment, but this beautifully put together showcase for Douglas Fairbanks’ game offers some splendid treats for fans of classic films.

Synopsis: A thief sneaks into a royal palace, where he sees and instantly falls in love with a beautiful princess. To claim… [More]


Adjusted score: 99028%

Consensus of critics: Armed with technical ingenuity and classic core hardware, Peter Pan brings JM Barrie’s beloved fantasy to the screen in dazzling style.

Synopsis: An Amazing Boy Takes the Darling Kids to Never-Never Land on an Adventure… [More]


Adjusted score: 98461%

Consensus of critics: Led by a fascinating Anna May Wong, girl from shanghai is a revenge thriller fueled by non-stop excitement.

Synopsis: A Chinese-American (Anna May Wong) avenges her father, killed by smugglers led by a socialite from San Francisco… [More]


Adjusted score: 54661%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: While investigating a secret group of aristocrats, Sherlock Holmes (Reginald Owen) and Dr. Watson (Warburton Gamble) must face a… [More]


Adjusted score: 90255%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: An American sailor (Kenneth Harlan) marries a Chinese woman (Anna May Wong), then abandons her… [More]


Adjusted score: 43512%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A Chinese guerrilla (Anna May Wong) flirts with a Japanese general (Harold Huber), then slips him a Mickey… [More]


Adjusted score: 82089%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: Valentine Wilmot (Jameson Thomas) owns a nightclub with dancers Mabel (Gilda Gray) and Vic (Cyril Ritchard). After a confrontation with… [More]


Adjusted score: 78326%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A slave girl (Anna May Wong) rescues Ali Baba (George Robey) and outsmarts a thief (Fritz Kortner) posing as a Mandarin… [More]


Adjusted score: 72003%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: At the behest of her Chinese father, a woman (Anna May Wong) goes to assassinate an enemy and encounters a Scotland Yard… [More]

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Adjusted score: 72769%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: An 1850s shipbuilder (John Loder) takes his Chinese wife (Anna May Wong) to England; she realizes that he loves someone else… [More]


Adjusted score: 16883%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A man declared dead (Brian Donlevy) hides out with a widow (Ella Raines) after his wife and her lover botched his… [More]


Adjusted score: 33051%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The daughter of a Chinese general (Anna May Wong) follows in her father’s footsteps to the jungle empire of a slave labor tyrant (J. Carrol Naish)… [More]


Adjusted score: 43349%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: A Chinese astrologer (Anna May Wong) helps the San Francisco police solve a murder… [More]


Adjusted score: 9371%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: As tyrannical but gravely ill shipping tycoon Matthew Cabot (Lloyd Nolan)’s health declines, he relies on painkillers… [More]


Adjusted score: 9648%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The Chinese government expects a teacher (Anna May Wong) to spy for her country… [More]


Adjusted score: 30741%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.


Adjusted score: 24543%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: The beautiful and idealistic daughter of a slain smuggler struggles to escape her sordid past… [More]


Adjusted score: 11017%

Consensus of critics: No consensus yet.

Synopsis: An injured mobster (Akim Tamiroff) falls in love with a Chinatown doctor (Anna May Wong) who saves his life… [More]

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