When Were You Born: The Movie

When Were You Born Vintage Movie poster

“…When Were You Born is a 1938 murder mystery film starring Anna May Wong as an astrologer who helps the police. Each of the twelve principal characters was born under a different astrological sign.


On an ocean liner sailing from the Orient to San Francisco, Mei Lei Ming (Anna May Wong) gives fellow passenger Nita Kenton (Lola Lane) a reading. When Nita’s boyfriend, importer Phillip Corey (James Stephenson), scoffs at her predictions, she informs him that he himself will die within 48 hours.


Corey is later found dead in his San Francisco shop, an apparent suicide. Police Inspector Jim C. Gregg (Charles C. Wilson) is certain it is a homicide and has Sergeant Kelly (Frank Jaquet) bring Mei Lei in for questioning. She convinces him she is innocent and, after demonstrating her astrological powers by telling both skeptical policemen about themselves based solely on their birth dates, proceeds to help them solve the case and two subsequent, related killings. Police forensic scientist Dr. Merton (Maurice Cass), however, remains firmly scornful of Mei Lei’s unscientific methods….”

The astrologer – Mei Lei Wing – is the Aquarius and the scornful forensic scientist is the Capricorn.

Love this concept! Had anyone seen this?

Vintage Movie Star ChineseThe actress playing the Aquarian Astrologer-Sleuth, Anna May Wong, was actually Capricorn and the first Asian-American to become an international movie star. Her Wiki is fascinating.  Seriously, read it.

Capricorn-like, she battled and climbed her way from being born in a Chinatown laundromat to stardom despite unbelievable racism at the time. She was, for instance, forbidden to kiss an non-oriental on screen.

She was linked with her sister Sea-Goat Marlene Dietrich AND the beautiful lyrics to These Foolish Things were also apparently written about/for her.

Shanghai Express Shanghai Express

Anna May Wong was also Mercury-Uranus exact conjunct in Capricorn and opposite Neptune – ruler of Hollywood. So there she was all iconoclastic and challenging the established order, one of which was that if you wanted a Chinese character, you got a Hungarian. She also had Moon-Jupiter in Aries – for extra oomph – and Aqua Rising.

Anna May Wong's Chinese Love Code


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20 thoughts on “When Were You Born: The Movie

  1. Anna May Wong – what an inspiration, incredible woman, amazing family!

    Given the spirit of the “frosted yellow willow” from Flower Street, to rise and rise, believing in no overwhelming obstacles whatsoever, not even a mass dumbed up social zeitgeist, or Hollywood exclusion, ever stood in the way of her belief in herself, what a show of complete self belief! No “foolish things” there.

    And Brain Ferry i think he was just the most darkly suavo, iconoclast of sophistication, but maybe not in that visual of the smokey ole club….

    • Absolutely, second that! Mystic for my cosmic prime minister!

      Can’t help but wonder how evolved our entire society might just be now if astrology had not been separated from astronomy…

      Maybe these two spheres might actually morph back together in more concrete realities as the world wises up, and realises that the ancients used these sciences together to rock their world with intelligent action and understanding…

      • Aaaaaaaaage of Aquaaaariiiiiiuuuuuuuuussss 😉
        do we really have to wait for another 600 years for it to come or is wikipedia just stupid?

  2. How do we organise a viewing of this movie!? Maybe we could all put in some spidooli and buy the movie and then have a MM’s movie night in Sydney and Melbourne at some central boho cafe? I suggest we don’t wear name tags and guess who everyone is!!

    This sounds really brilliant! And being born 1905 she really was a ‘Dragon Lady’ like some character’s she played.. I love Cappy’s, they are so tenacious – nobody stands in the way of Capricorn Dragon – except maybe themselves.

  3. Haven’t seen this movie but it sounds deliciously intriguing. Have always thought early Hollywood is a Fantasia in itself.
    Is it just my imagination or is Marlene a particularly Capricorn sounding name? Its got ” don’t fuq with me” tones rolled in with ” bless me universe, I’ve come so far for this”. Possibly there’s a semiotics of the ages that expounds this in detail. Names and nicknames intrigue me. Especially famous ones.
    My cat has a short name and a long name which only I can say or remember. He responds to both. My friends respond with raised eyebrows ,lol.

    Saw a movie at the Surrealist exhibition yesterday titled ” The discreet charm of the Bourgeoisie ” 1972 , French….. 5 Stars for quirk and 4 stars for Frenchness. If you like modern kook, as opposed to postmodern, look it up.

    Who wants to start a Capricorn task club : The Disciples of Work ( definitions of work can be flexible)
    And then another Capricorn club : Very Rewarded Persons

    I’ll be the DJ for the latter, as my work 🙂

    • Yeah, it’s a bummer, I just checked, too. Maybe if all Netflix subscribers did a search for it, it might register on their radar? I’d LOVE to see this film!

  4. Wow, that IMDB link says the movie starts with a short lecture on astrology by Manly Hall. I want to see that. I went to a lecture by Many Hall back in the 80s, I wish there were more of his lectures that were publicly accessible.

    This movie is amazing because it broke an old Hollywood superstition against using real occult material. There is an old taboo on that, if a movie referred to real mystical stuff, they would always scramble it up with deliberate changes and mistakes, just in case some of that magic stuff might put a curse on them or something like that.

  5. You’d think “yellow face” would be behind peeps but with movies like the last Air Bender, I still think there is a long way to go. But i want to see this movie now!

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