Nick Condon is a newspaper reporter working in Tokyo who refuses to toe the Japanese line on the expansionist policies of the anti-democratic Imperialist government. When it become clear to the authorities that Condon isn't going to cooperate and that he has some valuable information and contacts, they decide to get him in their clutches for some interrogations and then dispose of him. Written by
When Tanaka accuses Iris of treachery she stands up from her chair and faces him positioning herself away from the chair and closer to the sofa. As he leaves, she is seen back closer to the chair and turned so that she is now facing the opposite direction. See more »
But gentlemen, I know nothing about this article being printed. I was out of town.
Secret Police Major Kajioka:
Then let me read what is printed here in your paper. "If Japan wants to control China we must first crush the United States just as in the past we have to fight in the Russo-Japanese war."
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Nicely done war thriller with Cagney as a suave but pugnacious newspaper reporter in Japan who comes into possession of secret war plans. The plans are the work of a fascist Baron Tanaka who pushes the war agenda for the right-wing militarists over the objections of those opposed to war. The characters are interesting, and while many are static yet well-played, quite a few others are nicely fleshed out and grow during the plot. Cagney, some of the newspapermen and the female spy have some plot movement to develop their characters with. Even the villains, who could easily be cardboard, are well-played and exhibit human motivation. Obviously this is not a documentary, but it's also not pure melodrama either.
Perhaps the most visually interesting areas of the film are the contrasts between beautiful, high-class modernist settings, a representation of more traditional Japanese architecture, and gritty realistically-dressed street scenes. All the more interesting that the good production and pretty sets were created in Hollywood backlots in 1945 during the war. While this is not a huge film, the production design is as good as anything from the golden age. There is a lot of eye-candy in the set design, tastefully filmed and a treat to view.
The politics and cultural sensitivities of the film are also fascinating and far more balanced and subtle than other reviewers seem to indicate here. Cagney's character is well-immersed in Japanese culture and aware of the social issues of the time. He speaks Japanese, in addition to Chinese, and is a highly-skilled Judo aficionado. The film portrays Japanese opponents of the war as well-meaning but fairly easily countered by ruthless militarists and their secret police which is likely generally accurate. Surely similar struggles played out in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, along with Stalinist Russia, Mao's China and other 20th century totalitarian dictatorships both right and left.
This film is not anti-Japanese; it's anti-Fascist. Those who claim to be unaware of the difference would imply that Japanese are Fascists. That would be unfortunately ignorant.
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