This was the last film made by 6 time Academy Award winner John Ford.
Ms Agatha Andrews is head of a mission in rural China, in the 1930s. The mission staff includes 2 other single women, and a married couple Mr and Mrs Pether (Eddie Albert & Betty Field). Mrs Pether is expecting her first child at 42. They have long been awaiting the arrival of a doctor. When Dr Cartwright (Anne Bancroft) arrives, she is not what they expected. The prim, self righteous Ms Andrews and the drinking, smoking, atheist doctor do not get along.
The mission is threatened by a brutal warlord, Tunga Khan. Tunga Khan destroys the nearby British mission. Ms Andrews offers shelter to three women from the British mission, but will not let them work in her mission since they are a different denomination. Mr Pether is killed by Tunga Khan, leaving Dr Cartwright and 7 women missionaries. Mrs Pether goes into labor. Tonga Khan will only let Dr Cartwright have medical supplies and equipment if she submits to have relations with him. Knowing that mother and baby will die otherwise, Cartwright agrees. Ms Andrews insults Cartwright, calling her a whore. The baby is delivered, and mother and baby are fine.
Cartwright offers to stay as Tunga Khan's concubine, if he will let the other women free. The 7 women, and newborn baby, are allowed to leave in an oxcart. Ms Andrews continues to vilify the doctor. The others tell her to shut up, they never want to hear her voice again. Dr Cartwright places poison in two teacups. She gives one to Tunga Khan. After he falls dead, Dr Cartwright drinks the other cup of tea.
Thanks Joseph C!