The Inn of the Sixth Happiness – 1958 – English
Film directed in 1958 by Mark Robson, and starring Ingrid Bergman, Curd Jürgens, Robert Donat, Michael David, Athene Seyler, Ronald Squire, Moultrie Kelsall, Richard Wattis, Peter Chong, Tsai Chin, Edith Sharpe, Joan Young, Lian-Shin Yang, Noel Hood, Burt Kwouk…
Synopsis: All her life Englishwoman Gladys Aylward knew that China was the place where she belonged. Not qualified to be sent there as a missionary, Gladys works as a domestic to earn the money to send herself to a poor, remote village. There she eventually lives a full and happy life: running the inn, acting as “foot inspector”, advising the local Mandarin. and even winning the heart of mixed-race Captain Lin Nan. But Gladys discovers her real destiny when the country is invaded by Japan and the Chinese children need her to save their lives.
Review: In the 30’s, the working-class Englishwoman Gladys Aylward (Ingrid Bergman) leaves Liverpool and arrives in London, trying to join the China Missionary Society expecting to be sent to China. However, having only ordinary schooling, her request is turned down due to her lack of qualification to the position. Gladys works hard as a maid and uses all her savings and salaries to buy a train ticket to Tientsin. Then she travels by mule to the remote province of Wangcheng, where she works with the Englishwoman Jeannie Lawson (Athene Seyler) and the Chinese cook Yang (Peter Chong) in the Inn of the Sixth Happiness. When Ms. Lawson has an accident and dies, Gladys has no money to run the establishment and accepts the position of “foot inspector” offered by the Mandarin Hsien Chang (Robert Donat). She is assigned to visit the countryside to promote and enforce the government’s law against foot binding Chinese girls. She is successful, changes her nationality to Chinese and her name to Jen-ai (meaning “the one who loves people”), surprising the skeptical bi-racial Captain Lin Nan (Curt Jurgens). When Wangcheng is invaded by the Japanese, Jen-ai travels through the mountains with one hundred children to save them from death.
“The Inn of the Sixth Happiness” is a wonderful and engaging epic based on the true story of the enlightened Gladys Aylward. Her biography romanticized by Hollywood is awesome, and the movie is fantastic. Ingrid Bergman is stunning in the role of a servant in a period of class struggle in London determined to go to China where she believes she belongs and has a mission from God to be accomplished. The colors and the landscapes are impressive, but the cast of Ingrid Bergman as a woman not gorgeous; Curt Jurgens as a Chinese-Caucasian; and Robert Donat as a Chinese is weird, but they have perfect performances and I believe that is what matters in a film. My vote is nine.