Follow TV Tropes


Film / Lady from Chungking

Go To

Lady from Chungking is a 1942 American World War II film directed by William Nigh.

Anna May Wong stars as Madame Kwan-Mei, a woman of noble birth who has been reduced to working in the rice fields after her parents were killed and their estate confiscated. However, what she's actually doing is leading a Chinese resistance cell, guerrillas against the occupying Japanese.

After two American pilots, members of the famous Flying Tigers squadron, are shot down, Kwan-Mei's guerrilla band hides one, but when the other pilot is captured by the Japanese the guerrillas resolve to rescue him, a task that becomes more urgent when General Kaimura (Harold Huber) of the Japanese army shows up in the village, to prepare for a major Japanese ground offensive.

Mae Clarke plays Lavara, a White Russian émigré who sings in the local hotel.


  • Alcohol Hic: Gen. Kaimura, who has a serious drinking problem, does this when quaffing far too much champagne while sweet-talking Kwan-Mei.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kwan-Mei is shot by the Japanese (Anna May Wong was a invokedChronically Killed Actor for much of her career), but Kaimura gets his, dying moments later from the bullet Kwan-Mei put in his gut. More importantly, the Chinese resistance will continue, and with the free nations of the world they'll crush the Japanese.
  • The Chanteuse: Lavara's job, singing in the seedy local hotel run by the local Nazi, Herr Gruber.
  • Dramatic Irony: Kwan-Mei, who got into Kaimura's headquarters with her looks but still professes loyalty to the Japanese occupiers, tells Kaimura: "Well, here's hoping that every Chinese you meet from now on will be as loyal as I am."
  • Feet-First Introduction: A little boy plays with a toy boat in a mud puddle, as the older Chinese pick rice. The premise of the story is established when military jackboots come into the frame and stomp the boy's boat. It's a Japanese guard, and the Chinese rice pickers are basically slave labor behind the Japanese lines.
  • Honey Pot: Gen. Kaimura, who is a sleazeball, demands a woman when he arrives at Japanese headquarters. Kwan-Mei hears about this, and arranges to get tarted up in a cheongsam and a new hairdo, so she can worm her way into Kaimura's confidences as his lover.
  • Imagine Spot: Kwan-Mei is shot by the Japanese and falls over dead in the middle of her Rousing Speech. However, General Kaimura, himself dying after Kwan-Mei shot him, sees her ghost, which finishes the rousing speech about how Japan will never defeat China and China and its allies will eventually kick the Japanese out.
  • La RĂ©sistance: Kwan-Mei's band is shown receiving smuggled guns and bayonets at the start of the film, but they have to pick up the pace when Gen. Kaimura arrives in town in advance of his army.
  • The Reveal: About 2/3 of the way in it's revealed that Herr Gruber, the local Nazi who's been Heil-Hitlering everybody, is actually smuggling arms to the Chinese resistance. He's only doing it for the money, though, and he tries to betray Kwan-Mei to the Japanese near the end.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Mae Clarke, playing a White Russian refugee, speaks with her regular American accent. Lampshaded when Pat asks her why she talks like that, and she says she got it from "the sailor's manual".
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: This film was made by Producers Releasing Corporation, a "Poverty Row" studio that operated with considerably smaller budgets that the big boys like MGM or Warner Brothers. So that's why the demolition of the vital bridge by Kwan-Mei's saboteurs is only an offscreen booming noise, as Kwan-Mei tells Kaimura what's happening.
  • Old-School Dogfight: The Chinese laborers watch an American plane duke it out with the Japanese. The pilots bail out, and Kwan-Mei's people rescue one but the other is captured.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Kwan-Mei drugs Kaimura's wine and makes her rendezvous with her men after he passes out.
  • Title Drop: Kwan-Mei has been living under a pseudonym, and apparently Kaimura is familiar with her real name. She tells him who she is and promptly shoots him. After Kaimura's lieutenant enters the room, Kaimura, who is still on his feet, says "May I present the lady from Chungking, Madame Kwan-Mei."
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Kwan-Mei's lancer, Chen, flings his knife right into the neck of the Japanese guard, killing him.
  • Whatever Happened to the Mouse?: Lavara gets shot while breaking Pat out of the Japanese jail cell. He carries her to the getaway jeep, and the jeep zooms away, and that is the last we see or hear of Lavara in the movie.
  • Yellowface: Harold Huber, a white man, plays a Japanese general, Gen. Kaimura.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: The ending, where Kwan-Mei, who is getting stood up against a wall by the Japanese, tells them that they can shoot her but they can't destroy China.
    Kwan-Mei: You cannot kill me! You cannot kill China!... When I die, a million will take my place, and nothing will stop them!