55 Days at Peking Overview:

55 Days at Peking (1963) was a Drama - Historical Film directed by Guy Green and Andrew Marton and produced by Michal Waszynski and Samuel Bronston.

Academy Awards 1963 --- Ceremony Number 36 (source: AMPAS)

AwardRecipientResult
Best Music - ScoringDimitri TiomkinNominated
Best Music - SongMusic by Dimitri Tiomkin; Lyrics by Paul Francis WebsterNominated
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Quotes from

Baron Sergei Ivanoff: [Clapping sarcastically] Congratulations, Sir Arthur! It seems the British have won another bloodless victory!
US Minister Maxwell: I take it you have now unanimously decided to stay.
Baron Sergei Ivanoff: I shall report in my diary the first vote was nine-to-one, and that in a... friendly spirit it was then decided to make the decision unanimous.


Maj. Matt Lewis: He's a good soldier when he knows what he's fighting for.
Sir Arthur Robertson: It's easy when it's something you can see; a wall, a hill, a river, but how can you explain to them when it's for a principle.
Maj. Matt Lewis: You can't. Not here in China, it's too far from home.


Capt. Andy Marshall: [Regarding the Boxers massed on the Tartar Wall] No sign of activity, hmm?
Sgt. Harry: No sir, I think they're all asleep.
Capt. Andy Marshall: Ah, but we'd better not be Sergeant.
[Nodding to sleeping soldiers]
Capt. Andy Marshall: You'd better wake them all up.
Sgt. Harry: [to English Soldier] Wake up!
[to German Soldier]
Sgt. Harry: Guten Morgen!
[to French Soldier]
Sgt. Harry: Bonjour! Bonjour!
[to Italian Soldier]
Sgt. Harry: Buongiorno!
[Picks up and looks at hat of Japanese Marine]
Sgt. Harry: ... Good Morning?
Japanese Marine: Good Morning.


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Facts about

Due to mainland China's hostility and isolation from the Western world, a full-scale 60-acre replication of Peking 1900 (sewers and all) was built in the plains outside Madrid, and Chinese/Asian extras were flown in from all over Europe to provide the local Peking (the old name of Beijing) citizenry. A number of costumes for the Royal Chinese Court (the Empress, Prince Tuan's, etc.) were authentic ones from Tzu Hsi's actual court. They were loaned by an illustrious Florentine family (which wished to stay anonymous) but was able to rescue them from the collapse of the dynasty right after the Boxer rebellion.
It is still possible to walk around the area of Beijing which was the actual location of the Siege of the Peking Legations in 1900, and to recognize sites and street layout depicted with admirable accuracy by the sets constructed in Spain for '55 Days At Peking'. The former legation quarter is east of Tiananmen Square, bounded in the north by Changan Avenue and south by Qianmen Street. One such important site is the gate of the former British Legation in Zhengyi Road, looking remarkably as it did in photos taken in 1900. Much of the area has been occupied for many years by Chinese Government agencies. Most of the heritage buildings remaining of the old legation quarter are reconstructions after the Boxer uprising. The area's tourist potential has been little exploited. The post-Boxer former French Legation post office is the foyer of the Dongjiaominxiang Hotel. The site of the former US Legation has been renovated for up-market restaurants, bars and event venues.
The film, which was shot in Spain, needed hundreds of Chinese extras, and the company sent scouts throughout Spain and the rest of Europe to hire as many Asiatic-looking actors as they could find. The casting web in 1962 reached as far as London, Lyon and Marseilles, so the result was that many Chinese restaurants in those cities closed for the summer 1962 during filming because the restaurant staff - often including the restaurant's owners - was hired away by the film company. The company hired so many that for several months there was scarcely a Chinese restaurant to be found open in Spain and those 3 other cities.
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