The Good Earth' DVD, Paul Muni, Luise Rainer (1937), New & Sealed.
Pearl Buck's story of the ups and downs of a Chinese peasant family is adapted for the screen in a stately and dignified manner. Extreme respect is paid to the characters, who are given ample screen time to mature and develop. The roles are filled by actors who are able to get inside their characters without ever giving the impression that they are `performing,' and their performances are all the richer for it.
The story begins on the wedding day of Wang Lung (Paul Muni), a kind and gentle farmer. His wife, O-Lan (Luise Rainer), bears his sons and quietly encourages him to pursue his dreams, no matter what sacrifices they entail from her. The family lives through a famine and finally achieves prosperity and success. However, with success comes greed and corruption, and soon Wang is buying large plots of land and the Great Hall at which O-Lan was a servant. Eventually, he takes a second wife and breaks ties with all who were once close to him. It takes a tragedy for him to see the error of his ways.
All the while O-Lan stands behind him, supporting every decision he makes in her own tranquil way. Rainer's Oscar winning portrayal, like O-Lan herself, is the glue that holds the story together. Muni, often prone to hamminess in his work, shows restraint here and contributes a beautiful, multifaceted performance. The cinematography, which also received an Oscar, is excellent, as are the special effects. A sequence which involves locusts, invading the crops by the million, is nothing short of unforgettable. It is storytelling in the grandest sense of the word, with strong characterizations, high production values, and an engrossing story which more than justifies `The Good Earth's status as a classic.
Director: Sidney Franklin
Paul Muni .... Wang Lung
Luise Rainer .... O-Lan
Walter Connolly .... Uncle
Tilly Losch .... Lotus
Charley Grapewin .... Old Father
Jessie Ralph .... Cuckoo
Soo Yong .... Aunt
Keye Luke .... Elder son
Roland Lui .... Younger son
Suzanna Kim .... Little Fool
Ching Wah Lee .... Ching
Harold Huber .... Cousin
Olaf Hytten .... Liu (grain merchant)
William Law .... Gateman
Mary Wong ....
Coding: All Region Code / NTSC Format
Video: 4:3 Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital / AC-3 / 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: Traditional Chinese / Simplify Chinese / None (Removable)
Colour: Black and White