Singapore Film Locations Archive

‘China at Work and at Play’ & ‘China’s Wonderland’ (1917)

Short (educational) documentary films

Original film titles in English:
China at Work and at Play
China’s Wonderland

Directed by George A. Dorsey
Re-released by Universal (Powers)
Year of release: 1917


Motography, 16 June 1917:
China at Work and at Play – (SPLIT REEL) – POWERS – JUNE 17. – With Dr. Dorsey. The south of China is a densely populated land, very rich and characterized by thrift and economy of its people. We see the main street of Shanghai, with modern buildings and street-chairs. Then we see glimpses of the cities of Singapore and Penang. The Chinese have a thoroughly equipped racetrack in Shanghai. We also see horse races in Penang, on the Malay Peninsula. On the same reel is A Pesky Pup.”

Motography, 23 June 1917:
China’s Wonderland – (SPLIT REEL) – POWERS – JUNE 24. – With Dr. Dorsey. Along the river front of Shanghai, which is the most commercial city in the Far East, we see some of the million population, forty thousand of which are Japanese. The Chinese are among the shrewdest traders of the world. Canton, the next view, is the oriental Venice. People here are born, live and die in boats. The ports of China are well protected. At the end of the reel we see the water sports at Singapore. On the same reel is Young Nick Carter, Detectiff.”

The director of the two above films, Dr. George A. Dorsey, was the curator of anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago (according to He had traveled to Japan, China, India and other parts of Asia and returned with a series of films, shown in two parts of six reels each in 1915, under the titles of Dorsey’s Japan Pictures and Dorsey’s China Pictures. In July 1916, Dr. Dorsey’s expedition pictures were acquired by Universal Exhibitors for release in its regular film program of split reels, one every week, under the Powers brand. China at Work and at Play and China’s Wonderland – both of which included shots of Singapore and Penang due to their substantial Chinese population – were in all probability from 1915’s China Pictures series but marketed by Universal (Powers) for re-release in 1917.


01-George-A-Dorsey-Expedition-Pictures-Universal 02-George-A-Dorsey-China-Wonderland 03-George-A-Dorsey-Expedition-Pictures-Universal 04-George-A-Dorsey-Expedition-Pictures-Universal



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: