Posts Tagged ‘The Good Earth’

THE GOOD EARTH – Herbert Stothart

December 27, 2021 1 comment


Original Review by Craig Lysy

Producer Irving Thalberg was keen on bringing the popular Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Good Earth” to the big screen. His initial attempt with MGM studio executive Louis B. Mayer was thwarted with his reply; “The public won’t buy pictures about American farmers, and you want to give them Chinese farmers?” Undeterred, he solicited support from Nicholas Schenck the CEO of Loew’s Theaters Inc, MGM’s parent company and was given the green light to proceed. A massive budget of $2.8 million was provided, and Talbot Jennings, Tess Slesinger and Claudine West were hired to adapt the novel and write the screenplay. In an audacious gambit, Thalberg resolved to hire only Chinese and Chinese-American actors for the film, but soon gave up on the idea conceding after much studio resistance that American audiences were not yet ready to accept a film with an all-Chinese cast. The paucity of accomplished Chinese Hollywood actors at the time was also contributory to his decision. Ultimately, the principal actors would be white, but many of the secondary supporting actors were Chinese American. Sadly, he was unable to celebrate his passion project as he died tragically in 1936 and at age 37 of pneumonia, five months before the film’s premier. Sidney Franklin was hired to direct, but casting was problematic as the Hayes Code anti-miscegenation rules forbade the casting of husbands and wives of different races. The cast included Paul Muni as Wang Lung, Luise Rainer as O-Lan, Walter Connolly as Uncle, Tily Losch as Lotus, Charles Grapewin as Old Father, Jessie Ralph as Cuckoo, Soo Young as Aunt, Keye Luke as Elder son, and Roland Lui as Younger son. Read more…