All her life Englishwoman Gladys Aylward knew that China was the place where she belonged. Not qualified to be sent there as a missionary, Gladys works as a domestic to earn the money to send herself to a poor, remote vill... more »age. There she eventually lives a full and happy life: running the inn, acting as "foot inspector", advising the local Mandarin and even winning the heart of mixed race Captain Lin Nan. But Gladys discovers her real destiny when the country is invaded by Japan and the Chinese children need her to save their lives. Based on a true story.« less
Gabriele C. from LAKE WALES, FL Reviewed on 1/21/2018...
i LOVE this movie ... i love , love , love this movie !! ... did i tell you that i REALLY love this movie ???? having worked as a missionary myself for some years ..... it brings back memories .... somewhere i read some of the background stories if making this movie [ i forgot where ] . one story was how the the man who played the character of the mandarin actually was dying while this film was made . but he soo wanted to play the mandarin , that all scence with him where filmed first and he died the day after his filming was done . this movie is soooo worth watching .
Following God's call
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 05/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a magnificent film in every aspect; the acting is brilliant, the landscapes beautiful, the drama intense. Based on the true story of Gladys Aylward, a house maid in England who was "not qualified" to be sent to China as a missionary, so went there on her own, saving every shilling earned for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian railroad. Taking place in the pre-WWII era, it's an adventure story of great spiritual courage, the chaos of war, and a romance between two independent people who never thought they would find love.Ingrid Bergman is luminous as Gladys. It is one of her very best performances, and my personal favorite. Robert Donat, who passed away before the film was released, is also marvelous as the Mandarin of Yang Cheng, and Curt Jurgens as Captain Lin Nan is handsome and believable as the man who falls in love with Gladys. In a small but pivotal part, Athene Seyler is terrific as Jennie Lawson, the elderly missionary who helps Gladys in her early years, and Peter Chong is a delight as Yang the cook.
It is odd that the only Oscar nomination went to director Mark Robson; perhaps Bergman was overlooked because she had received a "Best Actress" for "Anastasia" two years earlier, but Bergman fans will give this film their own five-star award.The fabulous location filming by Freddie Young was done in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales, a remarkable substitute for Shaanxi Province, in the heart of China. The village reproductions are very well done, and look incredibly similar to films I have seen shot in China. The lovely score by Malcolm Arnold adds much to the film, and Alan Burgess, whose book "The Small Woman" is the basis of the story, wrote the script, which is witty, wise and wonderful, with Isobel Lennart.
Many times I've laughed out loud , and many times I've cried watching this film; it's good for several viewings, as it is epic in scope, and the script has an intelligence that makes it a rare gem. total running time is 158 minutes.In the film, Chinese tradition has five "Happiness" wishes: Wealth, longevity, good health, virtue, and a peaceful old age and death. "Each person must decide in their heart what the sixth happiness is"."
Bergman shines in religious epic
W. Oliver | Alabama | 08/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Overlong but fairly engrossing bio of Gladys Aylward, an English-woman who, despite her lack of qualifications, becomes a missionary in China. The film is episodic and covers Aylward's brief career as a parlor maid (saving money for her trip to China), her journey to China, her work at the Inn of the Sixth Happiness and the Chinese-Japanese war which results in her guiding 100+ children in an arduous journey through the mountains to a safer village. I didn't find the film as moving as other reviewers but it is well mounted and nice to look at. Bergman is outstanding as are other supporting players, most notably Curt Jergens and Robert Donat. This was Donat's last film (he died before it was released) and his last screen words are prophetic - "We shall not see each other again, I think. Farewell."What is most notable about this dvd release is the excellent commentary by Nick Redman, Aubrey Solomon and Donald Spoto. Redman talks about the real Gladys Aylward, Solomon talks about the film production and Spoto discusses Ingrid Bergman. There were many things changed for the film version and many of them are small and inexplicable. For example, Aylward's given Chinese name was Ai-weh-deh (not Jenai), an adopted child was actually named Ninepence (Sixpense in the movie), etc. Other changes were more larger in scope - Aylward's journey to China was quite harsh and she almost died several times. The inn-keeper, Jeanne Lawson (memorably played by Athene Seyler) was no as agreeable a woman as portrayed in the film - she was actually a cantankerous person prone to fits and thought to be quite mad by the villagers. Aylward herself was thought by many to be fanatical and to put it bluntly, off her rocker. Many other fascinating aspects about the film and the women (both Aylward and Bergman) are included."
A must for every video library ! An inspiring tear-jerker !!
W. Oliver | 09/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One rainy afternoon I was channel surfing and came across this movie and fortunately for me it was very close to the beginning. I was so drawn into the story and captivated by Ingrid Bergman's performance that I forgot I was even watching television!! This is one of the most touching and moving stories I have ever seen and (I won't give this part of the movie away) when the Chinese gave "Gladys" a new name and what that translated to in English I thought I was going to go through a whole box of tissues right then and there. The storyline, scenery and acting are superb and the fact that it is based on a true story only makes it more inspiring. My cousin is 18 years old and wants to pursue a career in the mission field and I told her many times that she has to see this film. So I'm not only going to purchase one for MY video library but one for HER'S as well."
Inspired and Inspiring!
Hoka | England, UK | 06/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Ingrid Bergman's greatest film - Oscar material, definitely. She excelled herself with her truly dedicated acting and I was swept along by her enthusiasm, her happiness, her sadness, her courage, her love - all the emotions she had to portray. I feel sorry that one reviewer had to mention Gladys Aylward's dislike of the film. She didn't see it. Miss Bergman wrote to her to explain that certain liberties would be taken, because a movie is entertainment - she did not receive a reply. Colonel Linnan did exist and Gladys was in love with him and intended to marry him - see the biography "The Small Woman" by Alan Burgess. The film made him half Dutch, half Chinese, because the part was played by German actor Curt Jurgens. He was the only suitable actor. Perhaps had the film been made now, Chow Yun Fat could have played the role. In my opinion, the film was close enough to the original story to be totally credible.
I have since bought the DVD from Amazon.com and have reviewed that - I'm known as Mary, by the way, my second name, and have a website about the making of this remarkable film."