|Index||10 reviews in total|
the first time i saw this movie was when I was about 8 years old and even after all these years i still remembered the movie even though I couldn't at times remember who the stars were and it wasn't until I was looking through an old movie book that had all of the 1940s movies in it did I see a brief review and several pictures of it And found out who the stars were.And quite recently at a movie memorabilia show in NYC I asked about the movie and was able to find out that it was on DVD.But the man didn't have a copy of it but told me would bring it to the next show.And he did and of course I purchased it and watching it again made me recall how good it was.The stars were Lee Tracy,Nancy Kelly,Regis Toomey and my favorite Japanese villain of all time Richard Loo ,If you see it anywhere my advice is pick it-up regardless of the cost.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When RKO released "Betrayal from the East," World War II was into its waning days. Nevertheless, the Japanese are portrayed as vicious, omniscient antagonists with the Nazis running a close second in this tale about pr-Pearl Harbor espionage. A couple of Americans in Tokyo have gotten hold of some volatile information about high-ranking Japanese military officials in the United States, but they are killed before they can get the information to U.S. military intelligence referred to here as G-2. One of the Americansa leading newspapermandies from a mysterious fall while the other vanishes into the ocean on his voyage to San Francisco. It seems that the wily Japanese want information about the Panama Canal so that they can shut down the canal and prevent the U.S. from shipping men, munitions, and ships through this important point. That's when carnival barker Eddie (Lee Tracy of "Bombshell") finds himself lured into the story. The Japanese contact the wise-talking Eddie and he assures them that he was not only stationed in the Canal Zone during his six years in the Army but also that he knows a sergeant who can get him to the plans to the zone. The Japanese pay his expenses on the way south to the canal. Before they set out for Panama, they show him what they do to double agents. We see a gardener that the villains have captured and Eddie watches for a moment or two as they try to sweat information out of him then approach himthe gardenerwith the glowering end of a steel rod. Later, Eddie learns that an attractive clothing designer that he met on the train trip to L.A. was another agent. Although he has made a deal with the Japanese, Eddie goes to G-2 and they reveal that they have been tailing him the entire time. Despite the threat of torture and execution, our intrepid hero decides to play along with the Japanese. Unfortunately, the scenarists have written Eddie as a dim-witted idiot who finds himself in over his head and makes virtually every mistake that can be made. Meanwhile, the Japanese villains are portrayed as experts and nothing is too devious for them. "Betrayal from the East" is the kind of Hollywood propaganda that the studios churned out to the chagrin of the U.S. Office of War Information (O.W.I.) during World War II that painted the Japanese as double-crossing, back-stabbing dastards. Along the way, the clothing designer Peggy Harrison (Nancy Kelly of "Tarzan's Desert Mystery") falls in love with Eddie and stages her own death to protect from the Japanese. Actually, the Japanese placed a camera in Eddie's apartment so they knew that Harrison was a U.S. spy. When Eddie reaches the Canal Zone, he meets with an Army sergeant (Regis Toomey) who is impersonating the Eddie's fictitious friend and they arrange to pass the Japanese false, out-of-date Canal Zone defense plans. Prolific scenarist Audrey Wisberg and director William A. Berke then pull a real boner by reinserting the Harrison character back into the story in the Canal Zone (much to Eddie's surprise and consternation as a woman with impeccable credentials who is a Nazi agent's girlfriend. The Japanese suspect the Harrison character from the get-go as untrustworthy and eventually the Nazis come around to their way of thinking. Peggy blows her cover when she warns Eddie about a plot to murder him by his Japanese employers. Yes, Eddie is so incredibly cretinous that he does things that a four-year old would never do when he tries to outwit the Japanese. Now, "Betrayal from the East" not only kills off both Peggy (she dies in a sauna bath) but also the chief Japanese villain (Chinese actor Richard Loo) kills Eddie just as G-2 breaks down the door. Journalist Drew Pearson appears in a prologue where he warns Americans that this kind of treachery must never happen again. Actually, if you want to see this story done with great credibility and more dramatic impact, watch the Warner Brothers 1942 release "Across The Pacific" with Humphrey Bogart where he strings along with Japanese saboteurs who want similar information about the Canal Zone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I taped Betrayal From the East when BBC2 screened during the early
hours at the beginning of this year (2006). They screened several
obscure movies at this time.
Japan has sent several spies to California to get hold of secrets of the Panama Canal. Two spies fall in love, but the woman is killed by the Japanese. The other spy bites the dust during the shoot out at the end.
The cast includes Lee Tracy, Nancy Kelly (Tarzan's Desert Mystery, The Woman Who Came Back) and Richard Loo.
This is quite an enjoyable little movie.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
With World War II approaching, Japan's diplomatic services push a
global message of peace but, behind the scenes they plot their attack
on the US, using a network of spies and traitors to get information to
aid their mission. In America, Japanese secret agent Kato approaches
former soldier Eddie Carter to recruit him to report back the details
of the Panama Canal. Eddie is down on his luck and working as an
announcer in a tacky fair sideshow and he agrees to help them for a big
payday. However he quickly has his doubts and finds himself in the
position to do the right thing for the US and act as a double agent.
With lots of talk about "Japs" and the title sequence involving a typical "yellow menace" image of a Japanese man it is no surprise that this thriller is very much a simple propaganda film. Presented by newsman Drew Pearson, we are told the story of how "friendly" Japanese in America are really spies, not to be trusted, who use their cunning and sweet talk to win over a typically good American to make him betray his country. Unsurprisingly the drama is as simple as the characters and although it works well enough on the level of an engaging piece of propaganda it doesn't have too much to make it stick in the mind; with perhaps a late scene of steam bath torture being the one exception. It goes where you expect it to and it moves forward without the pace and tension that I would have liked but, like I said, as a simple propaganda thriller it just about does enough.
The cast match this approach by being solid but nothing more. Lee Tracy is a cookie-cutter all-American Joe who does "the right thing" and opens all our eyes to the fact that no Japanese people in America can be trusted. He is OK but I wonder does he regret his role given what happened to Japanese Americans around this period? Kelly is alright and Ahn and Biberman do their usual roles in American films from the time but generally they all turn in the type of solid performances that one would expect to find in this type of thing.
Overall this is an OK but unmemorable thriller that is heavy with propaganda and a sense of fear-driven rabble-rousing. It more or less works as a simple b-movie but it is hard to totally get into it when looking back with hindsight and modern eyes and seeing the clear racism and very broad strokes used to present clean-cut white heroes and smarmy, untrustworthy yellow devils.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is without a doubt the worst Lee Tracy movie I have ever seen, and
is saying a lot because his movies tend to be of a consistently high
quality. This movie verges on being MST3K fodder, and if you're familiar
with that show, you can easily imagine Crow, Tom Servo, and Joel (or Mike)
wisecracking their way through this dopey, racist, tedious, half-baked
war-era nonsense. Okay, I know the historical context in which it was
it was well-meaning propaganda from 1945;
but no matter how many times I told myself this during the course of the
movie, it didn't improve it any, or make it any more entertaining.
The plot is typical double-agent fluff, about some seemingly amoral carnival barker, who, when paid a pile by the perfidious Japanese to spy against the good ol' U.S. of A., shows himself to be a True Blue Patriot and ends up giving his all for the cause. There's badly staged fight scenes, corny torture scenes, plenty of inscrutable villains staring meaningfully at each other, and a couple of love scenes which were blatant- and badly done- ripoffs of "Casablanca." Most annoying is the narration by journalist Drew Pearson at the beginning and end of the film. Evidently the director had such a low opinion of his audience's IQ, he felt the need to need to hammer in his message more with stentorian sermonizing acting as bookends. It wasn't enough to show us the Japanese were our enemies; did they have to tell us too? Was the director so afraid that we would just not get it otherwise?
Lee Tracy plays the carnival barker in question (shades of his earlier, and much better film, the "Half Naked Truth"). What is remarkable is how grim and stoic he appears throughout the entire film; much different from his customary ebullience, rapid-fire wisecracking and handwaving. His boredom and weary indifference virtually radiate from every frame of this misbegotten motion picture, as if he knew how this whole enterprise was imminently undeserving of his talents. He keeps repeating, "I'm just doin' this for the dough," as if it were his own personal mantra, and it leaves one to think that that was his main reason behind this picture as well. His attentions to Nancy Kelly, his alleged love interest, are lacking in any conviction whatsoever, and for the most part he seems more excited by the thought of his paycheck. As for Nancy Kelly, she provides a good argument against child stardom; although 24 at the time this film was made, this former child star appears a good 10 to 15 years older, and her strained posture and exaggerated, flutey voice don't help her. She does however provide one of the most amusing moments of the film, when (**SPOILER**) the bad guys steam her to death in a sauna.
Good propaganda gets its point by showing, not telling; and by providing its audience with a fun, compelling and interesting story. "Betrayal from the East" does neither. Recommended only for students of the period or die-hard Lee Tracy fans.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A compelling WW2-era propaganda film dealing with Japanese and American
espionage, where a carnival showman becomes mixed up in it all, as he
decides to foil Jap plans to sabotage the Panama Canal. This takes him
oversees where he was to be a patsy, but ends up a hero instead.
He falls for a lovely double-agent, a-la Mata Hari, as she does for him, yet their love becomes most complicated until she perishes in a tragic twist. Two times in one film!
After a long and nasty fight with a Japanese military official disguised as a shipman, he becomes a rather martyred character for the glory of the stars and stripes. A special message for audiences awaits at the end.
***SPOILER*** Shocking expose of an attempted Japanese take-over of the
United States west-coast by a gang of Japanese spies and their American
counterparts, ethnic Japanese Americans. Based on the 1943 block-buster
book "Betrayal from the East" by Alan Hynd the movie shows how closed
we, the USA, was in being taken over from within.
Getting wind of the massive Japanese conspiracy in early 1941 US Embassy officials in Tokyo Marsden & Hildebrand, Louis James Hyde & Jason Robards Sr, try to warn Washington and the US military about it but end up dead; Marsden falling overboard on a Japanese passenger ship going back to the states and Hildebrand falling to his death from a high-rise building in Tokyo.
In charge of this conspiracy back in the USA is the UCLA Football teams lead cheerleader Tani who's really Japanese Lt. Cmdr. Miyazaki, Richard Loo, and his band of Japanese agents led by Kato & Yamato, Philip Ahn & Abner Biberman. Kato gets in contact with his American friend and girlie show barker Eddie Carter, Lee Tracy, who served in the US military in the Panama Canal Zone a major target of Japanese Imperial Navy in the event of a war with the US.
Eddie broke and in need of cash quirky falls for Kato's offer to pay him for information abut US defenses in the Panama Canal and even gives him the name of a friend of his Sgt. Scott, who like Eddie is broke and willing to sell out his county for a few dollars, who still stationed there for further references. Little does Kato and his boss the secretive Lt. Cmdr. Miyazki know is that there's no such person as Sgt. Scott and that Eddie is setting him and his fellow spies up to be taken out and caught by the US military and FBI.
Eddie is later contacted by Peggy Harrison, Nancy Kelly, an undercover G-2, the forerunner to the CIA, agent on a train trip to L.A about the Japanses conspiracy. Told b Peggy to play along with his Japanese cohorts in order to find out what their up to she's later exposed as a G-2 undercover agent when Kato plants a hidden camera in Eddie's apartment. Peggy together with Eddie's and his Japanese house boy Omaya,Victor Sen Young, are secretly working with the G-2 US military Intelligence Agency.
Grabing Omaya the Japanese spies force Eddie to witness him being tortured and murdered by them to strike home to him what's to happen to anyone who cross' them. Peggy now knowing, from Eddie, that the Japanese spies are on to her has herself run over,in a G-2 staged accident,in order to make them think that she's dead.
Eddie is now given a ticket, on a Japanese freighter, to travel to the Canal Zone and get in contact with Sgt. Scott and get the vital information about US defenses there back to Lt. Cmdr. Miyazki. The whole operation is being monitored by the US military with a phony Sgt. Scott, Regis Toomey, planted there to make the Japanese spies feel that both Eddie, as an American traitor and spy for Japan, and Sgt. Scott, a real flesh and blood person, are legit.
Getting in touch with his Japanese contact in the Canal Zone a Mr. Araki, Dr. Hugh Ho Chang, Eddie is told to get all the information he can from Sgt. Scott about it's, the US military in the Canal Zone, defenses. Eddie also finds out that the "dead" Peggey Harrison is very much alive vacationing there undercover as a German tourist named Sandra Borough who not only changed her name but her hair, she dyed it blond obviously to look more Aryan,and blows her cover when she foolishly rekindles her love affair with him. This leads to Peggy being caught by the Japanese spies, and together with their German allies, boiled to death in a steam or Turkish bath.
Eddie has it out at the end of the movie with Lt.Cmdr. Miyazaki and even though he does the UCLA cheerleader in he ends up losing his life but eventually stops Miyazki's master plan to bring down he US with a coordinated outside Japanese military and inside Japanese sabotage assault on America.
The movie "Betrayal from the East" is done in a "Now it can be told" style narrative with syndicated columnist Drew Pearson inserted into the film giving it's both prologue and epilogue. Pearson telling the audience how close we were from being taken over by the Japanese Empire really hits home.
For all the Japanese meticulous planning it all in the end came apart because of the bravery and self-sacrifice of men and women like Eddie Carter and Peggy Harrison who put, and lost, their lives on the line in order to stop them.
The most surprising thing about Betrayal From The East is that Drew
Pearson put his time to it. In post war America Pearson was one of the
earliest and most consistent critics of Senator Joseph McCarthy and the
brand of right wing conspiracies he was peddling. It shocked me that he
would lend his name to this kind of propaganda claptrap.
Lend it he did to this film which has the Japanese contacting former army guy Lee Tracy now a carnival barker to see if he could get the plans for the Panama Canal defense. Presumably Tracy's efforts in foiling the Japanese designs on the canal are the reason it was not a casualty of war.
I'm still trying to figure out why American agent Nancy Kelly who Tracy sees killed in San Francisco winds up in the Canal Zone on another assignment on the same case where Tracy is now. What were the writers thinking with?
The film is a cheap imitation of one of Humphrey Bogart's and John Huston's lesser films Across The Pacific. This makes that one look like Gone With The Wind.
Made at the End of WWII but Set before Pearl Harbor, this B-Movie is
one of those Yellow Peril Types that Actually has more Japanese Actors
than Americans and They are All Up to No Good. They are Sneaky,
Barbarous, and have a lot of Cash to Pay Americans if Only They would
Betray Their Country.
Lee Tracy, a Second Rater and Hardly Anything Approaching Handsome is Given the Lead Romantic Role and the Love Angle in this Chock Full of Jap Bashing Film is Anything but Believable.
There are Some Striking Scenes of Torture and Surprising Deaths and the Plot Moves at a Rapid Pace with Hidden Surveillance and a Climactic Fight Scene that is Impressive.
Overall it is Worth a Watch as a Timepiece. It is Bookended with Real Life Journalist Drew Pearson Staring at the Camera and Delivering a "This can never happen again" Warning.
Note...Don't fail to miss the opening Title Card with a drawing of a Sinister Jap with Werewolf fangs.
This was a very well produced picture in B&W for the 1940's, it told about the Japanese trying to obtain vital information to be used against the United States in the Panama Canal and the horrible tortures they inflicted on American Citizens during those WWII War Years. Lee Tracy (Eddie Carter),"High Tide",'47, was a former Army soldier and was a wheel and dealer. However, his love of country forced him to work against Japanese spies like Richard Loo,(Lt. Cmdr.),"Battle Hymn",'57, who all during the War Years played hateful roles in many films as a "JAP" as they were called in the 1940's. It is foolish to be critical of this film, it was under budget and had a great story to tell the American People that we must be always ready to defend this great Country we live in. It was Germany and Japan and Italy in those years, today we have the same threat of TERROR!
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|