AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Chinatown Nights
Director: William A. Wellman (Dir)
Release Date:   23 Mar 1929
Duration (in mins):   88
Duration (in feet):   7,481
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Wallace Beery (Chuck Riley)  
    Florence Vidor (Joan Fry)  
    Warner Oland (Boston Charley)  
    Jack McHugh (The Shadow)  
    Jack Oakie (The reporter)  
    Tetsu Komai (Woo Chung)  
    Frank Chew (The gambler)  
    Mrs. Wong Wing (The maid)  
    Pete Morrison (The bartender)  
    Freeman Wood (Gerald)  

Summary: A Chinatown tourist bus is caught in the middle of a tong war, and in the resulting confusion, society woman Joan Fry is left behind. Chuck Riley, the white leader of a tong faction, pulls her from the dangerous streets and keeps her overnight in his apartment. The following morning, Joan leaves, returning later with friends; Chuck again saves her life. Joan falls in love with Chuck and moves in with him, renouncing her former life. She tries to get Chuck to reform, and he throws her out. Joan wanders the streets, and Boston Charley, Chuck's rival, gets her drunk and sends her back to Chuck with a humiliating letter pinned to her frowsy sweater. Chuck, moved by Joan's condition, wrecks his dance hall and leaves Chinatown with her, looking for a new beginning and a brighter tomorrow. 

Production Company: Paramount Famous Lasky Corp.  
Distribution Company: Paramount Famous Lasky Corp.  
Director: William A. Wellman (Dir)
Producer: David Selznick (Assoc prod)
Writer: Ben Grauman Kohn (Scr)
  Oliver H. P. Garrett (Adpt)
  William B. Jutte (Dial)
  Julian Johnson (Titles)
Photography: Henry Gerrard (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Tom Gubbins (Tech dir)
Film Editor: Allyson Shaffer (Film ed)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the short story "Tong War" by Samuel Ornitz (publication undetermined).
Authors: Samuel Ornitz

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Paramount Famous Lasky Corp. 23/3/1929 dd/mm/yyyy LP274

Physical Properties: Si with sd seq: Talking seq, sd eff, and mus score by Movietone
  Sd, also Si: Also si; 7,145 ft.

Genre: Melodrama
Subjects (Major): Chinatowns
  Chinese Americans
  Tongs (Secret societies)


Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   7 Apr 1929.   
New York Times   1 Apr 1929   p. 22.
Variety   3 Apr 1929   p. 20.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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