Son of Gods (1930): Pre-Code Romantic Drama, Starring Richard Barthelmess and Constance Bennett

Son of the Gods, a pre-Code romantic drama film with Technicolor sequences, produced and released by First National Pictures, was adapted from Rex Beach’s novel of the same name.

Son of the Gods

The Premise:

Richard Barthelmess and Constance Bennett star as a couple in love who have a falling out when she discovers that, though he looks Caucasian, he is actually Chinese.

Sam Lee (Barthelmess), the only son of wealthy Chinese merchant Lee Ying, passes as white.

Lee Ying sends him to a good university, where he is accepted in white social circles, even though it’s known he is Chinese, because of his money.

Two fellow students talk him into a triple date, but the white girls are outraged when they find out will go with a “dirty yellow Chinaman.” They pressure the white men to make up a fake excuse to leave, and the insulted Sam drops out of school.

Despite negative response, the movie was one of 1930’s most popular films at the box-office.