The Mountain Road

1960

Drama / War

0
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 60%
IMDb Rating 6.2 10 896

based on novel or book china bandit epilepsy

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Plot summary


Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 27, 2022 at 02:25 AM

Director

Top cast

James Stewart as Maj. Baldwin
Harry Morgan as Sgt. 'Mike' Michaelson
James Best as Niergaard
Frank Silvera as Col. Kwan
720p.WEB
941.69 MB
1280*718
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 42 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 6 / 10

Interesting and unusual anti-war piece

THE MOUNTAIN ROAD is an unusual WW2 film in that the enemy combatants are never actually seen during the production, only referred to. Jimmy Stewart and his men are busy blowing up bridges and ammunition dumps in readiness for the imminent arrival of the Japanese in China, but the main thrust of the story is a more nuanced and character-focused drama in which Stewart becomes obsessed with dispensing justice against the Chinese looters who threaten the safety of his men.

For a little-known film such as this, THE MOUNTAIN ROAD is surprisingly good in places. Although it's slow and almost entirely lacking in battle action, the characters are what keep you watching. The Arizona locations successfully convince as rural China and Stewart's steady presence sees the movie through from beginning to end. My favourite character by far is the one played by the excellent Chinese-American actress Lisa Lu, who would later star in Shaw's 14 AMAZONS. Lu is far more than just a love interest and her subtle performance is really fantastic; few performers could convey her level of anguish through just a few words and expressions. In some instances THE MOUNTAIN ROAD manages to have its cake and eat it by offering the spectacle of a massive explosive set-piece and a great climatic action scene while at the same time remaining resolutely anti-war.

Reviewed by theowinthrop 10 / 10

The Less Attractive Side of the Americans in China; 1941 - 1945

This film can really be subtitled, "Why did We Bother to Get Involved?". It is the kind of World War II film that Hollywood would never have shot in the 1940s. For the purpose of wartime propaganda is to attack one enemy at a time. In 1941 - 1945 the Japanese were the enemy, and our allies were the brave Chinese people. Only a handful of specialists on China knew the complexity of relationships in Chinese politics. One was Lieutenant General Joseph ("Vinigar Joe") Stillwell, who had been in China since the 1930s. He knew the main enemy was Japan, but he had little trust for the Kuomintang government of General Chang Kai Shek, which he knew was corrupt. China since the teens had been suffering from a large number of civil wars between generals with armies called "War-Lords". When Sun Yat Sen founded the Kuomingtang he hoped to get the assistance of the west to build up it's arms and defeat the war-lords. Unfortunately the Japanese prevented this kind of period of consolidation to occur, so Chang found he was supporting the representatives of a constitutional government, and was opposed by the Japanese and the War-Lords. Then a third foe arose: the Communists under Mao Tse Tung. In such a complex quilt pattern like country, we could not know who were our friends or foes. Washington, D.C. decided our ally was Chang, and Stillwell was frustrated on the support we wasted on him and his cohorts.

THE MOUNTAIN ROAD is a simple film about a set of Americans, led by Jimmy Stewart, who are ordered to slow down a Japanese advance into Western China by the Japanese. The interesting thing of the movie is that we never seen any Japanese soldiers. No we see only Americans and Chinese. We see how they mingle and interrelate, but also how they may end up fighting. Americans being hurt by one of the brave allied people we try to help - how familiar that sounds nowadays.

Stewart initially tries to get permission from the local Kuomintgang Colonel to blow up a bridge. He does get it, although he finds the customs of the Colonel too showy (he has to eat some lunch with the Colonel). He is given the use of a Colonel Kwan (Henry Silva) as a translator, and he has to escort a well educated woman, a General's widow (Lisa Lu) to the town that is their destination. Stewart has always wanted to have a command, so he had agreed to this one. He has Harry Morgan as his chief sergeant, James Best and Mike Kellin as two of his troops, and Glenn Corbett as Collins, his right hand man and translator.

The film really follows how the Americans deal with their erstwhile allies, and the results are somewhat discouraging. As time passes Steward's patience with the Chinese begins to crack. In particular two tragedies destroy it: the death of Collins while trying to do an act of kindness to the starving villagers they are among; and the roadside murder and robbery of two of the men (one a sick man) by Chinese soldiers turned into bandits. Stewart and Lu had slowly developed a love affair but the two tragedies, and Stewart's reaction to the second destroy what chances the bi-racial love affair might have had. In the end they part, and Stewart realizes he was to blame for it.

Or was he? Lu makes several realistic assessments of what her China requires to survive, and it is right that unity is needed. But she is unwilling to admit that her people do not have the right to kill people for personal gain. She keeps hiding behind the fact that they don't know better. Yet the scene when Stewart catches the thief and murderers drinking in a bar in a town, they realize what he is there about and start arming themselves for the upcoming fight. Stewart tries to explain his seeking punishment of the guilty was do to the headiness of having the power of life and death in the form of his getting an active command on the field. That may be true, but the two incidents involving his men and the locals hardly paint them as innocents types protecting themselves against wicked Americans. In the end the two points of view just cannot meet at a particular point. So the romance cannot last. But the audience wonders if friendship between the two countries is worth it in the end.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 6 / 10

War In China

The only film that World War II veteran James Stewart made during his career was one far away from his wartime experience flying missions over Germany in the European Theater. In fact it's the Chinese mainland theater which few have ever written about.

One of those who did was Theodore H. White who in the year before his first Making of the President books came out wrote the novel on which The Mountain Road is based. White was a correspondent during World War II and he covered this forgotten theater of the war where more time was spent in the quarrels with American commander Joseph Stilwell and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek of the Kuomintang Nationalist Chinese forces than in actually fighting the Japanese.

The year is 1944 and the Japanese army is once again on the offensive and the Chinese are retreating deeper into their interior. Stewart heads an eight man army demolition team and he's destroying a whole lot of things useful to the advancing Japanese, scorching the Chinese earth for the invaders.

But he's in a country that the only things Americans know about it come from missionary tales, Pearl Buck novels, and Charlie Chan movies. Which would make Stewart's character no different than most of the rest of his countrymen. One of the people in his team is the Chinese speaking Glenn Corbett who's studied the language and culture.

In this war movie, we never see the Japanese. Stewart's big problems come from the mass of refugees heading west to escape the advancing Japanese. He's also dealing with conflicting orders, with Chinese commanders looking to evade responsibility, and some outright bandits who really don't care who wins the war.

Four of the team are killed and the reprisals Stewart takes cost him the affection of Lisa Lu, widow of a Chinese general who chose wrong politically and paid for it.

Actually the performance I liked best in the movie is that of Frank Silvera as a Chinese Kuomintang commander who actually does understand and sympathize with Stewart, but who also knows his people.

My guess is that James Stewart took this film because it's not a typical war film with no great combat scenes. It's about the responsibility of command in a war where you can't tell whom you should fear.

Still The Mountain Road drags in spots and comes to no real satisfactory conclusion. It's different, but because of that remains one of James Stewart's least known and viewed films.

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