Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First Yank Into Tokyo (1945)

Director: Gordon Douglas

Writers: J. Robert Bren, Gladys Atwater

Composer: Leigh Harline

Starring: Tom Neal, Barbara Hale, Marc Cramer, Richard Loo, Keye Luke, Leonard Strong, Benson Fong, Clarence Lung, Keye Chang, Michael St. Angel

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A REVELATION OF JAP ATROCITY!

Plot: An American agent undergoes plastic surgery to make him look Japanese so he can infiltrate Japan and help to free an American POW.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

SPOIRER ARERT!!! (See what I did there?) YARRRRRR!!!

Wow.  Looking at this through today's eyes is a hell of a lot different than it was 70 years ago.  Major Steve Ross (Neal) looks less Japanese and more like a young Muhammad Ali.

Ready to take on the Japs, champ? Your country's counting on you!

That scene takes place within minutes after the film takes off.  The first half of the picture is pretty brisk but it's the second half that gets a little bogged down in drama.  Steve was seriously head over heels for Abby (Hale) until she's off to war and is believed dead at the hand of the Japanese.  Steve takes the job of looking like the enemy through plastic surgery since he doesn't have Abby to live for.  But when he infiltrates the Japanese POW camp, guess what?  She's a prisoner there working in the camp hospital!!!  I guess they only had one POW camp toward the end of the war.  He struggles with his feelings, blah, blah, blah but that's only a small part of it.  There's also the tug of war between him and the camp's boss, Col. Okanura, whom Steve shared a dorm room in college back in the States.  Convenient, huh?  Okanura spends the rest of the picture trying to figure out where he'd met Steve.  It finally dawns on him and he reveals Steve to be a phony in front of the the guards at a big banquet.  See, Steve played football in college and he does this thing with his fingers when he gets nervous.  That's what gave him away to Okanura and he just happened to have a film of highlights of one of their football games that he shows to the guards.  Now the chase and big finale fight is on and just in time, too, to get Steve's target and his former gal off the island and back to the good ole U.S. of A..

video

Even at 82 minutes long it drags a bit.  Looking at through today's eyes you will laugh at how ridiculous the racism is (or be completely horrified).  Even this silliness of the plot isn't as ridiculous as some of the movies that have come out of Hollywood in the past decade or so.  It's reasonably entertaining and an interesting piece of wartime Hollywood propaganda.  It was released days after the Japanese surrendered.  Bad luck timing on the studio's part.

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