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.
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.
- IMDB, 55 Days At Peking
- Dong Kingman official artist site & Wikipedia: Dong Kingman
- Some more great Dong Kingman paintings here and here
- Wikipedia: Siege of the International Legations in Peking in 1900