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13 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Forgotten racist film against Japanese Americans, 25 February 2005
Author: posmodern2000 (email@example.com) from Mexico
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If an idiot like Miss Jones can return to radio after something like
the "Tsunami Song" incident and after put a lot of dirt on the memory
of Martin Luther King's struggle to avoid someone can call today Jones
a "beep", it's because the mainstream don't know or try to deny the
history of anti-Asian racism in the West, including Hollywood.
This comment it's not mine, but of Shuriken in http://forums.yellowworld.org/showthread.php?t=10781 It's a list of "yellow face" movies, films with white people pretending to be Asian like the infamous Mickey Rooney's Yunioshi of "Brakfast at Tiffany's".
"The main reason why this movie is not at the top of the list is because it has faded from popular memory. But in its day, Little Tokyo, U.S.A. exemplified yellow face at its most pernicious. While other works had used Asian make-up to ridicule or vilify Asian features, this B movie used yellow face directly to deny a group of Asian Americans their civil rights. The story, set in late 1941, follows tough Los Angeles cop Michael Steele (Preston Foster) as he investigates a series of crimes involving the local Japanese American community. The story gradually reveals that the crimes are to cover up a Japanese American cabal's efforts to facilitate Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor. After the horrific military attack, the Japanese American community's demonstrations of pro-U.S. patriotism are portrayed as patently insincere. Policeman Steele tracks the crime trail to an American-born spy for Tokyo, Takimura (played in yellow face by Harold Huber). Takimura is shown to represent that even Japanese Americans who are born in the U.S. can't be trusted. Takimura tries to throw Steele off the case by enlisting a neighborhood vixen, Teru (June Duprez, pictured out of make-up in a publicity still above), to seduce him. If Little Tokyo, U.S.A. had been made 20 years later, Teru and Steele might have consummated the seduction. But this being the miscegenation-phobic '40s, Takimura instead murders Teru and frames Steele for the crime. Nevertheless, Steele ends up proving his innocence and busting the spy ring. The movie ends extolling the necessity for the internment. In retrospect, knowing that not a single charge of espionage was ever brought against a Japanese American during wartime, this sensationalistic story reeks of racist propaganda. Granted, the film would not have been any better if Japanese American actors had played these propagandistic roles. But Little Tokyo, U.S.A. stands as a cautionary reminder of just how horribly a community's image can be distorted when it's not there to represent itself."
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