Typical of the early films of the Great Wall studio was this tale of star-crossed romance, stifled by the feudal traditions of the time. The English title sums up the problem well: a dutiful daughter is caught between her own yearnings for happiness and filial responsibility. In addition to the studio's head scriptwriter Hou Yao writing it, the young lovers were played by Wang Hanlun, China's first marquee name, and Lei Xiadian, an American-born Chinese who stood out in the "Mandarin ducks and butterflies" romantic dramas popular in the mid-1920s. Although Great Wall's productions were usually more successful critically than financial, most (including this one) are regarded by Chinese film scholars as among the best of their era.
Zhai Xing zhi Nü (1925) 摘星之女 (Between Love and Filial Duty)
literal Chinese title: Star-Plucking Girl
Changcheng (Great Wall). B&W. Silent, with Chinese and English intertitles. 10 reels. Premiered July 17, 1925 at the Palace Theater in Shanghai. Producer: Liu Zhaoming. Direction: Li Zeyuan, Mei Xuechou. Screenplay: Hou Yao. Cinematography: Cheng Peilin. Cast: Wang Hanlun (Bai Qiuxia), Lei Xiadian (Feng Yueying), Gu Ying (Wu Huwei), Chen Yimeng (Mrs. Wu), Liu Jiqun (Wu Neng), Wu Yingjiu (Jin Tong), Xing Shaomei (Bai Chuchen), Bao Mengjiao (Chen Mao), Ding Fang (Mrs. Fang), Shen Qiang (Du Mengbai), Huo Meili (Wu Shengru), Wang Huibing (Wang Yuejuan).
"Star-Plucking Girl" is the title of a painting artist Feng Yueying gives to his girl friend Bai Qiuxia. Qiuxia's father Bai Chuchen is an army officer under the command of Wu Huwei. When Huwei's son Wu Neng meets Qiuxia he is immediately smitten with her and asks her father for the girl's hand in marriage. But knowing his daughter's feelings for the artist Yueying, the father turns down the proposal. This enrages his commander. When Bai Chuchen is arrested on charges of embezzlement, the commander refuses to intervene on his behalf unless Qiuxia consents to marrying Wu Neng. To rescue her father, the girl sadly bids farewell to her lover Yueying, who gathers up his art supplies and leaves to become a wandering artist. Not long after, Bai Chuchen falls ill and dies, so Qiuxia sues for release from her committment, but her suit is dismissed by the court. That evening, she attempts suicide, which is unsuccessful but leaves her disfigured, resulting in the Wu clan breaking the engagement. At this time, Yueying falls critically ill, but Qiuxia rushes to his side and her arrival restores his will to live and pursue a new life.