Toll of the Sea/Shifting Sand [DVD]

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The Toll of the Sea
This tragic tale of the Orient was only the second feature film in which a color film process invented by Technicolor was used throughout (and was the first to use their subtractive two-color process). It stars the stunningly beautiful Anna May Wong as Lotus Flower, a Chinese girl who finds an American sailor washed up on the shore. The sailor, Allen Carver (Kenneth Harlan), professes to love her and they marry. He goes back out to the sea and Lotus Flower has a baby. But Carver is a faithless man, and he returns to China with an American wife, Barbara (Beatrice Bentley). Lotus Flower is devastated. She hands the baby over to Barbara and then "pays her debt to the sea" by throwing herself into it and drowning. Barbara adopts the child, as per Lotus Flower's last wishes. If this story seems to bear some similarities to Madame Butterfly, scenarist Frances Marion didn't exactly deny it. In fact, she later said it was "practically the step-daughter of Madame Butterfly." Despite its lack of an original story, Technicolor made it a success. But the process was so complicated -- in those days, the blue-greens were photographed on one strip of film, and orange-reds on another, to be glued together later -- that it took many more years and innovations before color was commonly used. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Shifting Sands
Gloria Swanson was still being referred to as a former Keystone star when this drama was released. Here she is struggling artist Marcia Grey, who repulses the advances of rent collector Von Holtz (Harvey Clark). He vindictively has her framed for a theft, and she is sent to jail. When she is released, she joins the Salvation Army where she reacquaints herself with wealthy philanthropist John Stanford (Joe King), and they marry. Von Holtz reappears on the scene as a German spy. Stanford, who is working with the government, has some important papers that Von Holtz wants, and Marcia finds him fiddling with her husband's safe. He threatens to expose her prison term if she does not cooperate with him, so she accompanies him on a meeting with his fellow spies. Stanford's mother (Lillian Langdon) sees them sneaking off together and tells John. Believing that his wife is running off with Von Holtz, he follows, only to discover that Marcia has brought the police into the matter and the spies are arrested. Any doubts John had about his wife are gone, and they are happier together than ever. ~ Janiss Garza, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Anna May Wong
    Anna May Wong - Lotus Flower
  • Kenneth Harlan
    Kenneth Harlan - Allen Carver
  • Image coming soon
    Priscilla Moran - Illegitimate baby

Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.