Java Head / Tiger Bay DVD
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Directed by Thorold Dickinson, J. Elder Wills
Produced in 1934
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
A fine pairing of a Victorian melodrama with the original 1934 film of Tiger Bay. Proof, along with Piccadilly, of her beguiling cinematic presence, says James Oliver.
Anna May Wong was the first non-white star in Western movies but Hollywood never knew how to handle her. Frustrated by the pitiful roles she was given in the States, the Chinese-American actress decamped to Europe in search of better opportunities; this disc contains two of the films she made during her sojourn.
Java Head is a ripe Victorian melodrama set in Bristol. When sea captain John Loder returns home with a Chinese bride (Wong), his family are aghast but slowly take her to their bosom. But the happy union is threatened when he meets his former sweetheart and realises he still has feelings for her.
Elsewhere, Wong appeared in Tiger Bay (not the John Mills one). It's an atmospheric, exotic film; our heroine plays the owner of a dance hall in a seedy colony. When she's threatened by hoodlums, she takes matters into her own hands.
The release of Piccadilly a few years ago heralded the re-discovery of Anna May Wong as a great film presence; the two films presented here both further testify to her beguiling talent.
James Oliver on 24th May 2011
Author of 171 reviews
A double bill of dramas starring the first Chinese-American movie star, Anna May Wong - Jave Head (Dickinson, 1934) and Tiger Bay (1934).
In 'Java Head', set in Bristol in the 1800s, noble Chinese girl Tapu Xuen (Wong) marries the handsome wealthy son of an English ship owner, but faces local contempt when she returns with her husband to Bristol.
In 'Tiger Bay' (1934), young Englishman Michael (Victor Garland), visits the local low-life spot of Tiger Bay to test his assertion that the spirit of human romance survives even in the most unpromising of circumstances. He intervenes when a local criminal protection racketeer targets a Chinese nightclub, and falls in love with the owner's young English foster-sister. But Olaf's gang have only just started their campaign against Lui Chang (Wong), the cultured, elegant woman who owns the premises - and she is determined not to be intimidated or driven out of business under any circumstances.
Publisher: Studio Canal
Length: 144 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 20th June 2011
Cat No: OPTD2093