Confessions of an Opium Eater

Confessions of an Opium Eater also known as Souls for Sale and Evils of Chinatown[1] is a 1962 American crime film produced and directed by Albert Zugsmith. It is loosely based on the 1822 autobiographical novel, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, by Thomas De Quincey. After circulating for years as a bootleg, it was released on DVD as part of the Warner Archive Collection in 2012.[2]

Confessions of an Opium Eater
Confessions of an Opium Eater.jpg
Directed byAlbert Zugsmith
Produced byAlbert Zugsmith
Written byThomas De Quincey (book)
Robert Hill (film writer)
StarringVincent Price
Linda Ho
Richard Loo
Philip Ahn
Narrated byVincent Price
Music byAlbert Glasser
CinematographyJoseph F. Biroc
Edited byRobert S. Eisen
Roy V. Livingston
Distributed byAllied Artists Pictures
Release date
  • June 20, 1962 (1962-06-20) (United States)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States

This film stars Vincent Price as Gilbert de Quincey, a nineteenth-century adventurer who becomes involved in a tong war in San Francisco. Price also narrated the film, whose evocative cinematography resembles a nightmare. The film was something of a departure for Price; the prolific actor never performed another role that involved so much physical action.[3]


In 1902, adventurer Gilbert De Quincey, a descendant of Thomas De Quincey. is hired by the editor of a Chinese newspaper to stop auctions of trafficked Chinese women to be the brides of Chinese men resident in America. The community is split down the middle with those feeling the traditional practice is the only way for overseas Chinese to obtain brides, and those who regard the practise as indecent.



In 1998, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader included the film in his unranked list of the best American films not included on the AFI Top 100.[5]


I am De Quincey. I dream, and I create dreams — out of the opium pipe. I see sailing into our vision a junk. Its cargo: women. Women bought or stolen from all over the mysterious Orient. Their destination, and mine: the human auctions in Chinatown.


James Hong was given a script in 1962. He thought it was terrible – "all the roles were the opium dope people and the prostitutes and so forth." He and an organized group approached Albert Zugsmith to make a case for a rewrite.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Nortz, Sean (May 27, 2014). "Could You Spare Me a Nightmare? The World of Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962)". Retrieved March 26, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^
  5. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (June 25, 1998). "List-o-Mania: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love American Movies". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on April 13, 2020.

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