A Hollywood Chinese Album

Book-in-Progress by Arthur Dong

A Hollywood Chinese Album will be an illustrated pictorial that explores the power of images and their impact. Originating from Arthur Dong’s documentary Hollywood Chinese, which chronicled the 100-year history of the Chinese in American feature films, the book will spotlight a selection of archival material selected from some 1,500 pieces of ephemera the filmmaker collected since childhood and during the ten-year research for his documentary.

“The Cat’s Paw” lobby card, front (l-r):Harold Lloyd and Alyn Warren (1934).

This treasure trove includes posters, lobby cards, stills, press kits, and other memorabilia that reflect social and cultural attitudes on race over the past century. A Hollywood Chinese Album will decode this primary source material as a form of visual language to unravel how the film industry has ingrained a particular cinematic imagination of the Chinese into our culture and consciousness, thereby forging conceptions of the Chinese as the other. Although the book centers on the Chinese, its analysis will be relevant to other Asian and racial groups as well, challenging prejudiced assumptions about minorities in America.

“The Curse of Quon Gwon” with Violet Wong (1916).

As a countermeasure to these fabricated portrayals, a key component in A Hollywood Chinese Album will illuminate Chinese American film artists, presenting stories of resistance that will empower readers with alternative narratives that inspire. These stories range from contemporary filmmakers and actors that were interviewed for the documentary, to pioneers like Marion Wong who directed the earliest feature film by an Asian American in 1916

A Hollywood Chinese Album will be written by Arthur Dong, author of the American Book Award-winning Forbidden City, USA: Chinatown Nightclubs 1936-1970.

Anticipated publication date: 2019