LanguageSilent (English intertitles) Release dateMay 4, 1919 (1919-05-04) WriterJune Mathis, Edith Wherry (novel) CastAlla Nazimova (Mahlee & Blanche Sackville), Noah Beery (Dr. Sam Wang), Charles Bryant, Edward Connelly (Gen. Jung-Lu), Frank Currier (Sir Philip Sackville), Reginald Denny GenresSilent film, Black-and-white Similar moviesWest Side Story, Southland Tales, Diana, Addicted, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Lover
The story of the red lantern corps
The Red Lantern is a 1919 American silent drama film starring Alla Nazimova, who plays dual roles, and directed by Albert Capellani. It is notable today for Anna May Wong's screen debut. A single print survives in Europe with rumors of a copy at Gosfilmofond, Moscow.
As described in a film magazine, Mahlee (Nazimova) is a half-Chinese and half white woman, which makes her an outcast. After her grandmother dies, she goes to a Christian mission in Peking where she is converted and becomes a missionary. There she falls in love with Andrew Templeton (Foss), the son of the mission leader Reverend Alex Templeton (Hall), but the son's admiration is tempered by her mixed race. Dr. Sam Wang lives at the mission as well but is secretly a Boxer leader. Dr. Wang loves Mahlee but she spurns his advances. One day Blanche Sackville (Nazimova) visits the mission, and Mahlee realizes that she is the daughter of the Englishman her grandmother told her about and is her half-sister. Although Mahlee initially feels an attachment to Blanche, she soon becomes jealous when she realizes that Sir Philip Sackville (Currier) favors a suite between Blanche and Andrew Templeton. Capitalizing on the disdain in Mahlee's heart, Sam Wang convinces her to join him and impersonate the Goddess of the Red Lantern, a mystic personage that presides over the Chinese New Year, to convince the superstitious revolutionaries that victory is near if they follow Wang. While she serves the Boxer cause, she still cannot bear to have those she loves hurt, so she goes to the mission to warn them of an attack. She meets Philip Sackville and pleads for him to acknowledge her as his daughter and take her away from China, but Sackville refuses. She returns to Wang and celebrates the Feast of the Lanterns. The Boxers are suspicious of her, but Wang saves her. Armed conflict between the Boxers and Allies results in the rout of the Chinese. Mehlee goes to the Boxer Palace and while on her throne, she drinks the poison Wang gives her. Philip Sackville, Blanche, and Andrew come to the palace and discover Mehlee dead.
Alla Nazimova ... Mahlee & Blanche Sackville
Noah Beery ... Dr. Sam Wang
Edward Connelly ... General Jung-Lu
Frank Currier ... Sir Philip Sackville
Darrell Foss ... Andrew Templeton
Winter Hall ... Reverend Alex Templeton
Harry Mann ... Chung
Virginia Ross ... Luang-Ma
Mary Van Ness ... Mrs. Templeton
Anna May Wong ... (uncredited)
The Red Lantern, filmed during the flu pandemic, was the debut of Anna May Wong, who played a lantern bearer. To meet the casting requirements which required 300 extras for the film, the Chinese American extras were paid $7.50 per day ($101.32 in 2015 dollars), which was $1.50 more than the other extras.
A restored print of this film is available on a region 2 DVD. Only this picture right owned by Turner Entertainment through Warner Bros. Entertainment, but from Warner Archive has not yet on DVD.