UC Berkeley Library

Opium Smoking in Film

Broken Blossoms or, The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919)

Directed by D.W. Griffith. Cast: Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess, Donald Crisp. Adapted from the story: The Chink and the child. A peace-loving young Chinese man (played by white actor, Richard Richard Barthelmess) in a London slum (complete with the expectable opium dens) befriends a young girl brutally mistreated by her own father. 71 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935)

Directed by James Tinling. Cast: Warner Oland, Irene Hervey, Charles Locher, Russell Hicks, Keye Luke. Chan visits China, the country of his honorable ancestors, only to encounter a murder and an opium ring. 71 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Chinaman's Chance (1933)

Animated cartoon. Directed by Ub Iwerks. Flip the Frog and his trusty hound sidekick are on the trail of an escaped Fu-Manchu-like criminal named Chow Mein. The chase turns into a nightmare complete with crocodile pits and sundry opium-induced hallucinations.

Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)

Directed by Albert Zugsmith. Cast: Vincent Price, Linda Ho, Richard Loo, King Vidor, Florence Vidor. Set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the Tong wars of the 1800s, women are sold as slaves by an evil drug lord named Ling Tang. DeQuincey is hired to find a woman who has escaped the slave trade and bring her back. As he hides out in Chinatown he discovers the wonders of the opium trade and the drug's hallucinogenic effects. "Filled with absurd dialogue, Asian stereotypes and A-typical Zugsmith exploitation touches, the film is a classic of the early 60's sleaze genre." 85 min.

Flowers of Shanghai (Hai shang hua) (Taiwan, 1998)

Director, Hou Hsiao-hsien. Cast: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Michiko Hada, Lee Yu-ming, Carina Lau Ka-ling. Based on the 1894 novel by Han Ziyun this film is set in the elegant brothels of late nineteenth century Shanghai, a hermetic world with its own highly ritualized codes of behavior, where "flower girls," must win, and then hold, the affection of their wealthy callers.

Footlight Parade(1933)

Directed by Lloyd Bacon. Features infamous "Shanghai Lil" musical number involving opium dens, bars, and all manners of oriental fetish. 108 min. ;

From Hell (USA / UK / Czech Republic, 2001)

Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes. Cast: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Ian Richardson, Robbie Coltrane, Jason Flemyng. In 1888 London's Whitechapel slums, poor women like Mary Kelly and her friends walk the streets for a living. When the streetwalkers begin to be murdered one by one, it attracts the attention of Inspector Abberline, who takes a personal interest in the case, and Mary Kelly. Now he must use his opium-induced visions to stop the most notorious serial killer in history--Jack the Ripper--before Mary is killed. 121 min.

Maniac (1934)

Directed by Dwain Esper. Maniac offers a walking tour through the mind of a bona fide lunatic, distorted by fragmented scenes and ugly realities that mimic insanity's own warped perspective. This is actually a Depression-era rendition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Black Cat," injected with catfights, nudity, necrophilia, and the ingestion of one fresh eyeball. (On DVD with "Narcotic.") 52 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

Directed by Robert Altman. Cast: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Rene Auberjonois, William Devane, John Schuck, Corey Fischer, Bert Remsen, Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, Michael Murphy, Tom Hill, Hugh Millais, Jace Van Der Veen, Linda Sorenson, Janet Wright, Jack Riley, Graeme Campbell, Don Francks. Julie Christie as a shrewd, opium-smoking whorehouse owner. 121 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

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