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Broke in China (1927)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Short | 23 April 1927 (USA)
Donald Drake, a deep sea gondolier ex soda jerk, arrives at the All Nation Cafe in Shanghai. The proprietor believes he's a penniless ne'er-do-well - which he is - but he unexpectedly comes... See full summary »


Edward F. Cline (as Eddie Cline)


Al Giebler (titles), George Jeske | 3 more credits »




Cast overview:
Ben Turpin ... Donald Drake
Louise Carver ... Maud - the Saloon Girl
Alice Belcher ... Mollie - the Saloon Girl
Ruth Taylor ... Ruth - Donald's Sweetheart
Andy Clyde ... Ruth's Father
Kathrin Clare Ward Kathrin Clare Ward ... Ruth's Mother (as Katherine Ward)
Dan Maines Dan Maines ... Donald's Sailor Buddy (as Don Maines)
William McCall ... Proprietor of All Nations Cafe
Tiny Ward Tiny Ward ... Big Chinese Waiter
Dave Morris Dave Morris ... Croupier
Roger Moore ... Ruth's Sweetheart (as Joe Young)
Bud Ross ... Singer with Toupee
Irving Bacon ... Military Officer
Ronald Tilley Ronald Tilley ... Minister
George Gray George Gray ... Photographer


Donald Drake, a deep sea gondolier ex soda jerk, arrives at the All Nation Cafe in Shanghai. The proprietor believes he's a penniless ne'er-do-well - which he is - but he unexpectedly comes into a small windfall. So the proprietor orders slightly rough around the edges Maud and Mollie, two of his American good time girls working their way around the world, to get him to spend all his money while there. As Donald ends up telling the two good time girls his life story - most specifically about the blonde he let slip through his fingers, she who was the love of his life - a few revelations and the errant coin he left at the roulette wheel betting table change his life. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Short


Not Rated






Release Date:

23 April 1927 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mack Sennett Comedies See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Crossing His Eyes for Luck
27 September 2012 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

Ben Turpin took a year off from the movies to nurse his dying wife and by the time he returned to the screen, his appeal had faded. He was in his mid-fifties by the time he made this movie, which put him in a sailor suit in China. His boss, Mack Sennett, was distributing through Pathe, which was also handling Hal Roach -- and Roach would jump the next year to the better-financed MGM. The Christies were flourishing, Fox, Paramount and Universal has short subject departments.... so, while Sennett was certainly turning out comedies as good as ever, the competition, with the expense of sound on the horizon, was heating up -- and Sennett's once-a-decade star, Harry Langdon had just left to go independent.

Nor is this a bad comedy short. There is some lovely cinematography -- the opening shot set in Shanghai is quite an achievement -- and the editing is as good as ever. However, the modern audience may well be put off by some of the eye-dialect language and stereotypes. The story told in flashback is full of typically good Sennett gags and the payoff joke is a good one -- to anyone familiar with the conventions of 19th century stage comedy. I'd save this one for later in your viewing, after you're thoroughly enamored of Turpin's work at the Sennett studio.

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