It’s common knowledge that Nicholas Ray‘s 55 Days at
Peking (5.29.63) is a visually handsome but mostly mediocre film. It was a commercial stiff, and proved to be the first stage in the downfall saga of producer Samuel Bronston, who was finally finished off by the disappointing revenues from The Fall of the Roman Empire and Circus World (released within four months of each other in 1964). Two non-Asians play significant Asian roles (Flora Robson as Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi, Robert Helpmann as Prince Tuan). And poor self-destructive Nicholas Ray collapsed during filming, and in so doing wrecked his career.
And yet, like an idiot, I’ve bought the French Bluray anyway because of the following passage from Gary W. Tooze‘s DVD Beaver review: “This was restored in 2013 from the 8-perf Super-Technirama 70 camera negative. I’m blown away by the image — the 1080p looks incredible — a gigantic upgrade from the DVD. [Plus] it’s region-free and the French subtitles are totally removable. Look at the colors and detail — wow! The Technicolor bursts off the screen at times. Detail, skin tones, depth…all looking tremendous!”