As an immigrant official in the movie explains, "Asiatics are being smuggled in by land and water." I Googled the word "Asiatic" just to see if I could find a recent usage in the New York Times, but came up with 零 (that means "zero." There was no Chinese word for "bupkis").
Movies like Yellow Cargo weren't meant to stand the test of time. They exist today as they did when they were originally released -- to entertain, albeit on a different level.
|"The problem is, a half hour later they|
feel like smuggling them in again. HAHAHA!"
|"You must be an actor; you're always in|
the same profile."
|Crack reporter Bobbie Reynolds displays her|
Star Trek costume while her photographer
looks on in confusion.
|O'Connor almost gives himself away|
by showing his right profile yet again.
|Two guys in the front seat with a bound & gagged|
woman -- no, nothing suspicious here.
|If LAX looked like this today, I'd live there.|
And there's plenty of shoptalk, too. Bobbie wonders why a movie producer like Montie Brace doesn't want any publicity: "He's hiding something -- third dimension, color processor, another Garbo." Yes, they were talking about 3-D movies in 1936. But the line must have hit a little too close to home for Conrad Nagel. Early in his career, he played Garbo's lover in M-G-M's extravagant The Mysterious Lady. Now here he was stooging for an actress with a Bronx accent (in L.A.?) in a Grand National programmer. But perhaps Nagel accepted his fate, if this quote is any indication:
|"What, another freaking movie?!"|
I was never a big star, so I never had a role like Moses or D'Artagnan. But being assigned to 31 pictures in 24 months, I had an opportunity to play every type of part. The variety, though, didn't keep me from becoming a drug on the market. My wife would say, "Well, let's go out and see a movie tonight." We'd get in the car and discover that I'm playing at the Paramount Theater. And I'm playing at the Universal Theater. And the MGM Theater. We couldn't find a theater where I wasn't playing. So we'd go back home. I was an epidemic.
Thirty-one movies in two years! I've known actors who would destroy any vaccine to be an epidemic like that.
It's always interesting to see movies like Yellow Cargo -- that is, those made in pre-enlightened times -- just to hear how casually language deemed insulting today was not only accepted but part of the common vocabulary. The extras portraying "coolies," for instance. Bobbie, trying to remember a Chinese official's name, jokingly comes up with "Long Hot Poo." That's the kind of jape I use at home just to get a rise of out the missus and to make our semi-politically correct 17 year-old daughter laugh in spite of herself. This should give you further evidence, as if any was needed, of my emotional (im)maturity.
So yes, times change. At some point, probably when it was sold to TV in the '50s, the title Yellow Cargo was considered disparaging enough to warrant a change. Take a look at the title credit of the prints now in circulation. If you were Chinese, would this make you feel better about yourself?