Cinema: Wild Eastern

7 Women. "The bandit Tunga Khan won't dare to molest us—we're American citizens," says a frail missionary lady, reeling off exposition at a godforsaken outpost in northern China in the year 1935. Of course, most of the dreadful events thus predicted duly come to pass, and all that remains to arouse sympathy is the plight of some rather interesting actresses, trapped on MGM's chintzy Chinese sound stage with absurd situations, hoked-up direction and dialogue like wet firecrackers.

Noted for such memorable westerns as Stagecoach, Veteran Director John Ford apparently believes that the trick of making an eastern is to change the...

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