Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 1958. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Isobel Lennart, based on the novel The Small Woman by Alan Burgess. Cinematography by Freddie Young. Produced by Buddy Adler. Music by Malcolm Arnold. Production Design by John Box, Geoffrey Drake. Costume Design by Margaret Furse. Film Editing by Ernest Walter. Academy Awards 1958. Golden Globe Awards 1958.
Ingrid Bergman plays a dedicated woman who wants more than anything in the world to go to China and be a missionary. Based on a true story, her journey across continents is an inspiring one, and the life she leads when she arrives at her destination is full of wonder and adventure. Not being in possession of the requirements for a regular missionary, Bergman works as a domestic servant and saves up her money until she can send herself to China, where she works at a village inn and gives medical aid to the village peasants who live there. She manages to convert many of the locals and even catches the eye of a Eurasian soldier (Curd Jürgens), a plotline that the film used liberally in its self-promotion but which isn’t actually a focus. The true challenge to our heroine’s life comes when Japan invades the country and she must help escort a huge group of Chinese orphans to safety. Exceptional performance by Bergman and an intelligent screenplay make for a very satisfying viewing experience.