Blu-ray and DVDMoviesThis Chick's Flicks


The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)
Approved....158 min.....Biography, Drama, War
February 4, 2014

inn of the sixth happiness
© 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

ORIGINAL RELEASE: .December 11, 1958
inn of the sixth happiness
DIRECTOR: .Mark Robson
WRITER: .Isobel Lennart
inn of the sixth happiness
Based on The Small Woman by Alan Burgess
inn of the sixth happiness
Ingrid Bergman, Curt Jurgens, Robert Donat
Athene Seyler, Peter Chong, Burt Kwouk
inn of the sixth happiness
DISTRIBUTOR: .Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
inn of the sixth happiness

SYNOPSIS: All her life Englishwoman Gladys Aylward (Ingrid Bergman) 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 (Curt Jurgens). But Gladys discovers her real destiny when the country is invaded by Japan and the Chinese children need her to save their lives. Based on a true story.

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, the latest new-to-Blu release from 20th Century Fox Studio Classics, tells the remarkable tale of Gladys Aylward‘s Christian missionary work in China from the early-to-late 1930s. From the broad place-and-time scope of the film’s narrative, to its complex stunts and special effects, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is that special kind of non-CGI’ed saga that they just don’t make anymore.

Ingrid Bergman stars as Gladys, a determined woman who knew her mind and let nothing and no one—from travel troubles and randy Russian soldiers, to lacking funds and a language barrier—stand in her way. Both modern and poised enough to seek social reform and eschew the condescension of men—such as the local Mandarin (Robert Donat)—Bergman’s Gladys is simultaneously graceful and classy in her adherence to some tradition, riding her donkey side-saddle and refusing to swim with (or look at) the half-dressed Captain Lin Nan (Curt Jurgens). Through her dedicated efforts, the villagers come to see Gladys as a trusted and respected friend, and she, in turn, finds the fulfillment she always sought.

inn of the sixth happiness
Ingrid Bergman and Curt Jurgens | © 1958 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Like other classic films “based on” true stories, so too is The Inn of the Sixth Happiness an altered and sanitized version of its tale. In addition to changing the inn’s name, Gladys’ nickname, and the course of her romance with Lin Nan (among others things), plot points that today would be—and, in reality, likely were—rife with grisly imagery are implied (rather than shown) or shot so that such sights are not necessary. As is also true of some classics, there are elements of The Inn of the Sixth Happiness that do not jibe with modern politics and sensibilities. By today’s standards, some of the film’s characters and humor—not to mention the title font—exemplify 1950s stereotypes of Chinese people and culture now considered “offensive” and “racist.” These factors alone, however, are not reason enough to cross The Inn of the Sixth Happiness off your to-see list. After all, The Sound of Music (1965) is alarmingly untrue to its source material, and Disney’s 1941 classic Dumbo features a character named ‘Jim Crow.’ In other words, just because a work is a product of its time does not mean it has no place in ours.

Ultimately, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is an epic cinematic experience, the second half of which is completely riveting—even if you already know how it ends.
inn of the sixth happiness

Commentary with Nick Redman, Aubrey Solomon and Donald Spoto
Fox Movietone News: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness Rapturous and World Premiere
Theatrical Trailer
inn of the sixth happiness

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Featured Image: © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

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Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.