The Good Earth

Director: Sidney Franklin
Year Released: 1937
Rating: 2.0

Starts off absolutely ridiculous, with Wang (Paul Muni) waking up, happy and delighted by the fact that he's about to be married to constantly suffering wife (Luise Rainer, who looks like she's dying in every scene she's in) who will help him plow the fields - his jubilance is silly. It proceeds into a headlong rush of famine and starvation and prosperity, one following the other, as the heroes have a family, raise it and struggle to keep everyone fed and warm. None of it really mattered for me, and I never felt "involved" in the plight; Muni and Rainer's intended ignorance made me dislike them rather than empathize and most of the acting (especially from those in the cast who really do look Chinese) is really, really awful. Gets slightly better as it goes along, building to the Oedipal conflict between Muni and son as well as the great locust sequence (which deserves its notoriety), but I was never all that emotionally involved.