The Bitter Tea of General Yen

Synopsis: The American missionary Megan Davis arrives in Shanghai during the Chinese Civil War to marry the missionary Dr. Robert Strife. However, Robert postpones their wedding to rescue some orphans in an orphanage in Chapei section that is burning in the middle of a battlefield. While returning to Shanghai with the children, they are separated in the crowd, Megan is hit in the head and knocked out, but is saved by General Yen and brought by train to his palace. As the days go by, the General's mistress Mah-Li becomes close to Megan and when she is accused of betrayal for giving classified information to the enemies, Megan asks for her life. The cruel General Yen falls in love for the naive and pure Megan and accepts her request to spare the life of Mah-Li against the will of his financial advisor Jones. Meanwhile Megan feels attracted by the powerful and gentle General Yen, but resists to his flirtation. When Mah-Li betrays General Yen and destroys his empire, Megan realizes that to be able t
Genre: Drama, Romance, War
Director(s): Frank Capra
Production: Columbia Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
88 min

Well, if it isn't Amelia, our little

tower of strength from Tientsin.

And Dr. Hansen. Shades

of Canton and Pearl River.

Rain and refugees and shooting

all the way. My, what a country.

Hello, Mrs. Blake.

Hello, Mrs. Jackson.

Come in, Mr. Pettis.

Haven't seen you since the gunboats

rescued us from General Yen.


By the skin of our teeth, wasn't it?

Close one, that, close one, that.

Step into the living room.

Everybody in China is here.

Literally everybody.

And no wonder. No missionary in

China would miss Dr. Strike's wedding.

No, indeed. Step right in.

Where is the bride

and groom?

They're not here yet.


Oh, she's on her way

from the ship

with my husband.

Oh. And Bob?

Oh, Dr. Strike telephoned.

He'll be busy working among the

refugees until the very last moment.

He didn't even have time to

meet the boat. Imagine that.

That's Robert Strike all over.

And you say he hasn't

seen her in three years?

No. They're supposed to be

childhood sweethearts.

I can hardly wait

till I see them kiss.


Who is the bride, Mrs. Jackson?

Megan Davis.

Finest old Puritan family

in New England, my dear.

Her father's a big publisher.

Very old family.

I hope Dr. Strike

isn't making a mistake.

No. I hear she is young,

attractive, full of energy.

She'll need it.


Dedicating her life to the

service of mankind in China.

Just what I did 50 years ago

with my own bride, Mary.

Yes, it's glorious.

And yet, I pity her.

Pity her?

I've spent 50 years

in China,

and there are times when I think

we're just a lot of persistent ants

trying to move

a great mountain.

Bishop, how can you say that?

After all that you've done?

Yes, I do pity her.

When I think of what

she has to face, I...

Only last month I learned

a terrible lesson.

I was telling the story

of the Crucifixion

to some Mongolian tribesmen.

Finally, l... I thought

I had touched their hearts.

They crept closer

to my little platform,

their eyes burning with the

wonder of their attention.

Mongolian bandits, mind you,

listening spellbound.

But, alas, I had misinterpreted

their interest in the story.

The next caravan of merchants

that crossed the Gobi Desert

was captured by them

and crucified.

That, my friends, is China.

Miss Davis, please.

Come on. Miss Davis!

You've run down

my rickshaw boy.


That Chinaman in the car doesn't

seem to care much. It was his fault.

Aren't you going to send

for an ambulance?

Is he badly hurt?

Aren't you going to do anything

for that boy? He may be dying.

If so, he is very fortunate.

Life, even at its best,

is hardly endurable.

How can you be so unfeeling?

What kind of a man are you anyway?

Oh, I'm so sorry.

Do you want a handkerchief?

Madam, it's raining, and I'm

afraid you are getting wet.

Miss Davis, I've gotten

another rickshaw boy.

Come on, come on!

You shouldn't have

done that, Miss Davis.

Oh, I couldn't help it.

Everybody was so callous.

I know, but human life

is the cheapest thing in China.

Oh, I do hope the bishop's

going to like them.

It is a wonderful event... Yes?

Oh, here comes the bride.

The bride.

Play "Here Comes the Bride."

Here comes the bride.

Megan Davis!

My land, child.

It's been 11 years since I saw

you last. Let me look at you.


Folks, this is

Miss Megan Davis.

Take a good look at her,

because in half an hour,

the poor thing will be

Mrs. Robert Strike.

No, no, no, no, you can't

get acquainted with her now.

She's gotta get ready for the

slaughter. Come on, Megan.

But I can't understand it.

The owner of the car

looked so civilised.

I wonder who he was.

Some rich merchant

taking refuge in a settlement.

But don't be fooled

about his looking civilised.

They're all tricky,

treacherous, and immoral.

I can't tell one from the other.

They're all Chinamen to me.

Who is it?

He's here.

Who's here?

The groom.



Here, wait a minute, wait a minute.

Here's your hat.

Oh, yes.



Let me look at you, Bob.

Will you forgive me? I simply

couldn't meet you at the boat.

Oh, I'd forgive you anything.

Well, that's good, because...

Listen, Megan.

What's the matter, Bob?

Well, listen, dear.

St. Andrews Orphanage

is in terrible danger.

I've got to get a safe-conduct pass to get

into the war zone and bring out the children.

What? Is there going to be a wedding?

I'm sorry, Mrs. Jackson.

The wedding will have to be

delayed. But don't worry...

Is the pass from the

American consulate?

No. None of the foreign authorities

can do anything.

I've got to get a pass

from a Chinese general.

That's what we call

our gangsters here: Generals.

Which one, Bob?

General Yen.

General Yen.

You don't mean the man that expelled

missionaries from his province?

Yes. He's in Shanghai now

under an assumed name.

I think I know where to find him.

I don't see how you can possibly

ask that bandit for any favours

after the way he treated you.

Well, I hate to, but he's the only man who

can get me through the Nationalist lands.

I've got to go now before I lose

track of him. Where's Megan?

I'm ready, Bob.

Megan, you can't go with me.

Of course I can.

Not now. I'm not going

to allow you to risk your life...

If there are bandit generals to be tamed

or children to be rescued, I'm in on it.

Why do you think I came to China?

I wouldn't let her go, Bob.

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Grace Zaring Stone

Grace Zaring Stone (January 9, 1891 – September 29, 1991) was an American novelist and short-story writer. She is perhaps best known for having three of her novels made into films: The Bitter Tea of General Yen, Winter Meeting, and Escape. She also used the pseudonym Ethel Vance. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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