Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
East is East (1916)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Cockney Bert Grummet courts Victoria Vickers, who lives with her aunt and uncle in Poplar. He aspires to owning a fish and chip shop and marrying Victoria, while she is happy to remain friends. It transpires later that she has inherited a fortune from an uncle.

Meanwhile Victoria, her aunt, uncle and Bert have gone hop picking in Kent. The solicitor, on holiday in the same area, stumbles on Victoria's identity. He hurries them all back by train to his office so that the fortune can be claimed before a deadline. Under a condition of the will, Victoria must live for three years with a guardian to acquire the necessary social refinement that will go with her wealth.

She is sent to live with society lady Mrs Carrington and her feckless son Arthur. Bored with her new acquaintances, Vicky is delighted to see Bert when he calls to see her but Mrs Carrington decides to separate them by sending Victoria abroad. Bert meanwhile sets up as a fishmonger with money loaned to him by Victoria, and shrewdly builds the business up into a thriving concern.

After two years abroad, Victoria, outwardly refined but still ill at ease, returns to the Carringtons. Bert, dressed as the prosperous tradesman he now is, visits the Carringtons to repay Victoria her loan. She tells him she would willingly give up her wealth in exchange for her former happiness but, believing this to be impossible, accepts Arthur's surprise proposal of marriage.

Bert is on his way to visit Victoria when he sees a newspaper announcement of her engagement. Resigned, he retires from his business to an idyllic cottage he has purchased in the Kent hop fields. At her engagement party, Victoria overhears Arthur as he tells a girlfriend of his real reason for wanting to marry: to pay off gambling debts. She makes the dramatic announcement that she is giving up her entitlement to her fortune, as she will never be comfortable in rich society.

She looks for Bert but cannot find him at his old haunts. Nostalgic over their visit to the hop fields, she visits the cottage he had admired. Bert is overjoyed when he notices her through a window, and when she recognises him they are reconciled at once.