55 Days at Peking

Synopsis: Diplomats, soldiers and other representatives of a dozen nations fend off the siege of the International Compound in Peking during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion. The disparate interests unite for survival despite competing factions, overwhelming odds, delayed relief and tacit support of the Boxers by the Empress of China and her generals.
Director(s): Nicholas Ray, Guy Green
Production: Allied Artists
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
154 min

Peking - China.

The summer

of the year 1900.

The rains are late,

the crops have failed,

a hundred million

Chinese are hungry

and a violent wind

of discontent

disturbs the land.

Within the foreign compound

a thousand foreigners

live and work,

citizens of a dozen

far-off nations.

Priests and missionaries,

bankers and businessmen,

engineers and adventurers,


soldiers and students...

People with families, homes,


Many have lived here

a lifetime and feel secure

as they go about

their daily routine.

What is

that terrible noise?

Different nations

saying the same thing,

We want China.


Separated from the compound

by only

a wall and a gate,

is the Forbidden City.

Here, in untouchable isolation

lives the Dowager Empress,

last of the Manchus.

Protected by

an army of eunuchs,

she holds court

and confers with her ministers,

mandarins and generals.

Halt the execution.

But Prince Tuan s orders!


you have my orders.

The nightingale will recover.

The Court physician s

arts will work.

Only yesterday

I listened to its song.

The execution

has been stopped.



Your Majesty,

I come to ask

your displeasure.

My life instead

of the Colonel s.

We cannot spare you.

I gave the order

to fire on the Boxers.

They were burning missions,

killing foreigners.

We have sad news.

The nightingale...

it was your gift.

Do you remember, Jung-Lu?

I have not forgotten.

I live to serve Your Majesty.

How does the attack

on the Boxers serve

Her Highness?

If they are unchecked,

foreign armies will fall

- on China.

- We are tens of millions.

Does the Empress believe that

where the imperial Army has failed,

the rabble will succeed?

- Our Gods are with the Boxers.

- The nightingale is still.

I hear only

the sound of crows.

Your Majesty,

a violent wind

is short-lived.

The Boxers have arisen

like the wind and rain,

and like the wind

and the rain, will die.

May the Boxers be guided

by the will of the gods.

About the Colonel, Your Majesty.

His end

will be a sign,

and a warning

to the foreigners.

His death

is of no consequence.

But his life has set

my Prince against my General

and this disturbs

the morning s tranquility.

Let him die

for this offense.

You are concerned, Jung-Lu?

If the Boxers fail,

I will give the foreigners

Prince Tuan s head.

Eyes front, soldier.

All right,

Marines, eyes front!

We re almost in Peking,

the capital city of China.

This is an ancient,

highly cultured civilization,

so dont think

you re any better than them

because they

can t speak English.

A few Chinese words

go a long way.

Repeat after me.

The word for yes is shih.


- The word for no is poo shih.

- Poo shih.

it s the same here

as anywhere else in the world,

everything has a price.

Pay your money and

dont expect any free samples.

Yes, sir.

Right turn!

Column... Halt!

We going to stop that, Major?

Stay right there!

- Murphy!

- Yes, sir?

Ni hao.

Tell the Boxer chief

I want to do business with him.

I want to buy

the old man.

But he's not American.

Twenty dollars.

Hold it!

Tell him the old man

must be alive.

Nothing if he s dead.

Forty dollars.

All right.

He s dead.

But he say

you pay

for spoiling the ceremony.

Nothing doing.

Twenty dollars.

Tell him

I'll still do business.

I'll buy

the dead Boxer.

Forty dollars.

Twenty dollars.

- Did you fire that shot?

- Yes, sir.

Nice shooting, Sergeant.

Thank you, Major.

That'll cost you twenty bucks

out of your pay.

Fall in!


Fall in!

- Take them to the barracks.

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Philip Yordan

Philip Yordan (April 1, 1914 – March 24, 2003) was an American screenwriter of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s who also produced several films. He was also known as a highly regarded script doctor. Born to Polish immigrants, he earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois and a law degree at Chicago-Kent College of Law. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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