Chu-Chin-Chow (1923 film)

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Chu-Chin-Chow 1925 movie poster.jpg
Directed by Herbert Wilcox
Produced by Herbert Wilcox
John Hagenbeck-Film
Written by Oscar Asche (play; Chu Chin Chow )
Herbert Wilcox (scenario)
Starring Betty Blythe
Music by Frederic Norton ( Chu Chin Chow )
Cinematography René Guissart
Distributed byEngland 1923
*Graham-Wilcox productions
USA February 1925
*Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Release date
  • 30 December 1923 (1923-12-30)(Finland)
  • 7 July 1924 (1924-07-07)(Berlin)
  • 10 February 1925 (1925-02-10)(New York, by MGM)
Running time
European release:
*3,733 meters
*12,247 feet
US release:
*1,939 meters
*6,362 feet
CountryWeimar Republic
United Kingdom
Language Silent film (intertitles: German, Finnish, English)
Budget£40,000 [1] or £100,000 [2]

Chu-Chin-Chow is a 1923 British-German silent adventure film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Betty Blythe, Herbert Langley and Randle Ayrton.




It is based on the extraordinarily successful stage musical Chu Chin Chow by Oscar Asche, with music by Frederic Norton, that ran in London from 1916 to 1921. [3]

Wilcox had a box office success with Flames of Passion (1922) starring imported Hollywood actor Mae Marsh. This enabled him to raise the £20,000 to buy the film rights – a record amount at the time. The cost of making the film was another £20,000. [4]

To save money, Wilcox decided to make the film in Germany. In exchange, Wilcox agreed to distribute Die Nibelungen in Britain. [5]

The film starred American actress Betty Blythe fresh from her scantily clad triumph in 1921's The Queen of Sheba at Fox. Sources state this film had early experimental synchronised sound but this process could only be viewed at the special theaters outfitted for the sound equipment. [6] [7]

The film was shot in Berlin on the studio lot at Steglitz. [8]

This film was released in the United States by MGM two years after its production with a drastically reduced footage count by almost half.


Wilcox later said the film "was only a moderate success". [9]

A sound film Chu Chin Chow , with the score intact, was made by the Gainsborough Studios in 1934, with George Robey playing the part of Ali Baba, Fritz Kortner as Abu Hassan, Anna May Wong as Zahrat Al-Kulub and Laurence Hanray as Kasim. [10]

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  1. Wilcox p 54
  2. ""Chu Chin Chow" Filmed". Daily Mail (22). Brisbane. 28 October 1923. p. 11. Retrieved 19 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. Chu Chin Chow (2008) at the Finborough Theatre, London, website archive, accessed 23 December 2010
  4. Wilcox p 24
  5. Wilcox p 54
  6. Chu-Chin-Chow listed at the database
  7. "Film Flashes". The National Advocate . New South Wales. 17 February 1925. p. 1. Retrieved 27 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. Wilcox p 54
  9. Wilcox p 55
  10. "Chu Chin Chow (1934): A Robust Operetta". The New York Times, 22 September 1934, accessed 2 August 2010