Sunday, March 27, 2011


Here's a hottie I'd never heard of1, even in my decades in the dark as "Waldo," reviewing movies for WRCN, WWHB and Channel 67.

Lobby card for "Roar of the Dragon"

Channel-surfed across a 1932 Richard Dix flick on cable TCM, Roar of the Dragon, which drew my inter­est2 due to several similarities to 1966's cautionary why-we-shouldn't-be-in-Vietnam film, The Sand Pebbles.

Gwili Andre portrait - click for full-size original

What kept my attention was the stunning leading lady, Gwili Andre (née Andresen), whose name was completely unknown to me, as well as her likeness. Even with blended dark eye make-up to signal that she was "no better than she ought to be," she was a beauty!

(Appearing in her pre-Code scanties didn't detract from her appeal, either.)

The portrait above doesn't have the impact of her screen presence, but it still reveals a great face, part Carole Lombard, part Myrna Loy, part Marlene Dietrich.

The movie itself is standard early talkies fare... sinister foreigners, an exotic woman in peril, heroics by not only the popular Dix, but the won­derful Edward Everett Horton, more at home in a British drawing room than mowing down hordes of savage Tartar bandits with a .30 caliber Browning machine gun.

(In the later film, set six years earlier on the Yangtze Kiang, Steve McQueen uses a period-appropriate Lewis gun.)

As the evil bandit chieftain "Voronsky," steely-eyed C. Henry Gordon is single-minded in his attempts to reclaim his one-time sexual slave "Natascha" (Gwili), and chews enough scenery to keep a colony of beavers fat for months.

(As does McQueen, Dix mercifully shoots a captured, strung up and tortured ally.)

It's all delicious fun... even though a little bit of Zasu Pitts goes a very long way... and I would definitely add it to my library... except that it's not available even in VHS (remember those?) much less on DVD!

More images of Gwili Andre...

Wuff, indeed! As John Wayne said of Susan Hayward in "The Conqueror," Gwili Andre was "much woman!"

  1. Understandably, as the lady was almost 20 years departed by then.
  2. In truth, I initially considered that it might be something to do with Bruce Lee.


1. Paul Haines said...

Dean, are you doing re-runs?

Ha! You probably caught this when it was "up" (on-line) for all of 20 minutes a week ago, when a more timely issue ("It can best be deemed…") presented itself, and this one went back into the "ready chute."

I usually save "soft" material like this for weekends when there are are fewer visitors to the blog.

2. Rob F. said...

McQueen did man the Lewis Gun on the "San Pablo," for me the most memorable weapon is the B.A.R. that he and Richard Crenna used to such great effect.

I find myself wanting to see that film again. It's been 45 years now.

3. Hampton West said...


Thanks for the word on this one - sounds interesting and I'll look for it. I always enjoyed The Sand Pebbles movie.

Just got back from Shanghai after visiting #1 son who lives there - took a cruise down the Huangpo River that leads into the Yangtze and then up that river for a few hours. Despite my visions of Steve McQueen and crew protecting us Yanks from the warlords the river, at that point reminds me of my youth in New Jersey, Newark Bay, Elizabethport, Linden and Jersey City - that is, oil refineries and factories, wall-to-wall!!!

Thanks for the travelogue... wow!, Zack couldn't get much farther away from Cooke Street, could he?

But I fear you'll look in vain for Roar of the Dragon... unless you can get some sort of "heads-up" alert from TCM, you're outta luck!

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