Alternative English titles: Little Toys, Small Toys
Written and directed by Sun Yu
Date of release: October 10, 1933
Cast: Ruan Lingyu, Li Lili, Liu Jiqun, Yuan Congmei, Luo Peng, Tang Tianxiu, Han Langen
English subtitles translated by Christopher Rea
Ruan Lingyu and Li Lili star as mother and daughter, artisan toymakers whose livelihood is being ruined by mass-produced foreign imports. After her son is kidnapped, Sister Ye leads the community in supporting soldiers defending Shanghai against the Japanese invasion of 1932. Director Sun Yu harnesses the charisma of two screen goddesses in this parable about China’s urgent need for military and economic self-strengthening. Ruan’s final scene is a tour de force.
Playthings is discussed in chapter 2 of the book Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1949.
Sun Yu 孫瑜
Sun Yu, an influential film director, made his name in the silent era as one of the most prolific and talented filmmakers of United Photoplay Services (Lianhua Studio)
Li Lili 黎莉莉
Li Lili appeared as a physically robust, playful, and outgoing "sweet big sister" in many Lianhua films of the silent and sound eras.
Chinese Film Classics, 1922-1929 (2021), by Christopher Rea
An essential guide to the first golden age of Chinese cinema, offering detailed introductions to fourteen films.
New Women 新女性 (1935)
A contemporary social drama about “the woman question.” What are women’s lives like in China today? And what should they be?
The Great Road 大路 (1934)
In this genre-bending romp, a band of road workers, aided by two women, build a great road to help China fight off invaders.
Daybreak 天明 (1933)
A young woman from the countryside, forced into prostitution, does espionage to aid the Northern Expedition.
Love and Duty 戀愛與義務 (1931)
A romantic melodrama with paternalistic overtones, Love and Duty was the first Lianhua film to showcase the chemistry between Ruan Lingyu and Jin Yan.