Played by Ingrid Bergman, English domestic servant Gladys Aylward has dreamed of traveling to China as a missionary. Despite being turned down by a missionary society, as unqualified for the work, Gladys remains convinced that God wants her to go to China to serve as a missionary. Shortly after being turned down by the missionary society, Gladys spots a travel agency and goes in, insisting that she be allowed to buy a train ticket to China on an installment plan that the agency doesn’t even offer. According to Aylward’s atypical way of thinking, once she’s committed to the idea with a down payment, it will make paying for it over the course of time an easier prospect.

Eventually, Gladys earns enough for the ticket, and her kindly employer Sir Francis Jamison (Ronald Squire) pulls a few strings, and gets her connected with a missionary named Jeannie Lawson (Athene Seyler). Initially, Gladys finds it difficult to gain the trust of the locals, but things begin to pick up when she forms a relationship with the local leader, a Mandarin played by Robert Donat. Grace’s ability to interact with the local peasants provides the early dramatic momentum for the film, as does a budding romance with a so-called Eurasian captain named Lin Nan (Curt Jürgens).

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness reaches its dramatic peak when war comes to China in the form of invading Japanese burning towns and driving people to the interior. Gladys leads a hundred abandoned children on a perilous trek to safety, with ex-prisoners as scouts and bandit friends running interference with Jürgens’ army. The action is tense, but we never quite believe that Gladys and her group of cute orphans are going to get shot by invading Japanese. Gladys pulls through with little more than smudges on her cheeks, but it feels like her victory is hard earned.

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness is a solid adventure film. Ingrid Bergman is excellent as a stubborn but vulnerable female who has the courage to step into the unknown and finds herself rewarded with a life changing experience. She is given a sense of accomplishment and a level of respect she could have never achieved as a domestic servant in England. While the film definitely tugs at the heartstrings, it also does a good job of portraying Grace Aylward’s initial efforts to be accepted by a skeptical populace.

Presented in the 2.36:1 aspect ratio, Fox’s Cinemascope looks very good on Blu-ray, though there are a few small issues, largely having to do with aging elements that have color shifted slightly. Skin tones are slightly brown, and costumes that should be bright red have a rusty tinge to them. Otherwise, though, this is a good looking transfer. The image is sharp throughout, and well detailed.

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness‘ original four track stereo mix is recreated very well, with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 4.0 mix. The front and rear channels are put to good use. There’s some obvious directionality in the dialogue, and it’s clean and clear. Malcolm Arnold’s lovely music sounds lush, and ambient effects come through nicely in the rears.

English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Commentary with Nick Redman, Aubrey Solomon and Donald Spoto: An enjoyable an informative commentary, it sounds as if the three participants were recorded separately, and edited together later. They provide some wonderful biogrsphical and behind-the-scenes information.
  • Fox Movietone News (SD, 2:09) two newsreels capture the film’s premieres in both Los Angeles and New York.
  • Trailers (SD, 6:17) both the English language and Spanish subtitled versions of the trailer are introduced by Ingrid Bergman.