When a film is based on a real story or on real people, there is always a chance that the truth has been embellished in some way to make the filmed version more exciting or more cinematic. With The Inn of the Sixth Happiness , only a few surface embellishments are made because the real story is pretty astonishing. The film tells the story of several years in the life of Gladys Aylward (Ingrid Bergman), who went from being an English domestic servant to a national hero of China. As the film begins, Aylward has applied to become a missionary to China, but is rejected because of her lack of education. Taking pity on her since she left a job during a time when jobs are scarce, the senior missionary (Moultrie Kelsall) instead arranges for her to get a job as a maid at the home of a well-known explorer with contacts in China (Ronald Squire). Using virtually all of her earnings, Aylward purchases a ticket for herself on the Trans-Siberian railway in installments, eventually making enough to pay off the ticket and head to China. Her contact is an elderly British woman named Jeannie Lawson (Athene Seyler) who is attempting to open up an inn for passers-by, mule trains, and travelers. Like all inns, the one she wants to open will provide insect-free bedding and meals, but will also provide the travelers with stories. Eventually they open the inn, calling it the Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Due to the influence of local military official Lin Nan (Curd Jurgens), the local ruler, the Mandarin of Yang Cheng (Robert Donat in his final movie role) offers Gladys a new position. The Chinese government is attempting to put an end to ancient practices like foot binding, and suddenly Gladys is the person in charge of making sure that foot binding stops in the area. She is given the name Jan-Ai and eventually becomes a Chinese citizen. Her work in helping the working and living conditions of the local populace, including that of the nearby prison, earn her great respect with the people of the province, and suddenly she is a woman of great importance and much beloved. The problem is that all of this takes place in the 1930s, which means that before too long we’ll be dealing with the invasion of the Japanese into China and all that that entails. There is something like a budding romance between Jan-Ai and Lin Nan, and while it’s requited, the circumstances of the Japanese invasion and her work serve to keep them mainly apart. Source: 1001plus
Errol Flynn was beginning to look old and tired when he made this colourful adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson story (changed almost beyond recognition) in Europe. Nevertheless, with the help of Warner Bros veteran William Keighley, who'd
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