Gallery: Paintings for “55 Days at Peking” by Dong Kingman

The 1963 55 Days at Peking, starring Charlton Heston as Charlton Heston, is of the era where we couldn’t start the film without sitting through quite a long orchestral overture and reading all the important credits. Here, we are more than happy to wait thanks to a series of highly evocative watercolours by Chinese-American artist Dong Kingman (1911-2000) – I couldn’t resist screenshotting a few from this sequence, and here they are.

In my view the observation and imagination that has gone into these paintings more than offsets the many dubious Hollwoodisms (actually it was filmed in Spain), although perhaps the same cannot be said for the casual racism of much of the movie, especially the various toe-curling ‘yellowface’ performances. But even those may in the final balance be offset by the multiple-scenes-stealing performance as the minor character “Teresa” by the Anglo-Chinese Lynne Sue Moon.

 

Daytime scene of the wall overlooking the foreign concession   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Sunset over old Peking walls   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Chinese temple lion staties in the snow   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking Peking walls in the distance and move credits   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Yellow wash painting of a Chinese temple   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Manchu bannermen in a procession in front of city walls   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Broad wash painting of Peking walls   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Peking walls with movie credits   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Sunset with cavalry in front of city walls   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Chinese soldiers with banners in front of walled town   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Chinese soldiers patrol the walls of Peking   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Manchu procession with forbidding skies   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Horses resting next to a carriage in the snow   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Misty lake with two fishing boats   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Chinese ox cart in front of horse statues   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Marketplace with pigs   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Procession carrying a Manchu dignitary   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Snowy scene of walled Chinese town  - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

Music

The film won two Oscars for the music: the song “So Little Time” – Dimitri Tiomkin (music) Paul Francis Webster (lyrics) – and the overall Dimitri Tiomkin score.

 

 

Read more:

Vermilion coloured scene of flowers and a temple   - Dong Kingman watercolour for opening credits of 55 Days at Peking

 

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  • Sage_on_the_Hudson

    The above makes an egregious misrepresentation: Dimitri Tiomkin’s score and song for “55 Days at Peking” did NOT win Oscars; they were merely NOMINATED for Academy Awards, that’s ALL.