Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, June 9, 2008

ANNA MAY WONG: Frosted Yellow Willows

ANNA MAY WONG: Frosted Yellow Willows -- Her Life, Times and Legend (2008). TCM documentary. Director: Elaine Mae Moo.

Narrated by Nancy Kwan, this is an interesting if somewhat superficial look at the life and work of Anna May Wong (pictured), whose career spanned silent films to the early 1960's. The film does give biographical details, and shows clips from some of her more interesting movies. Anna May Wong is at its best showing how difficult it was for actors who were not Caucasian to achieve and maintain stardom in Hollywood, sometimes even being passed over for ethnic roles they would have been perfect for (Wong was herself passed over for two roles in the film adaptation of The Good Earth). Wong was a talented woman who had some of her greatest successes overseas, but we don't learn too much of her private life in this film, which mentions such things as her younger sister's suicide and Wong's possible alcoholism (she had cirrhosis of the liver at the time of her death) but provides few details. Still this is a worthwhile, entertaining introduction to the Chinese-American actress who helped open doors for those of her race who followed.

Verdict: Not great but not bad. **1/2.

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