College professor Stephen Miles (Gary Bayer), his wife, a young girl, and a drifter (Jerry Houser) are suddenly faced with a society where money is worthless, food is scarce, your neighbor ... See full summary »
The war ended before filming was completed. Because of this the producers decided to rewrite the script to include references to the atomic bomb, including a side plot involving a kidnapped American nuclear physicist. See more »
At the end of the movie, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are represented as having been parachuted from the B-29s; they were dropped without parachutes. See more »
I agree that a movie -- or almost any other cultural artifact -- should be judged on the basis of the times and circumstances of its production. It's unfair to judge what people have done in the past through the prism of our own prevailing prejudices. Barbara Field, the African-American historian, was critical of Lincoln's deciding to wait until after Antietam to announce the emancipation of slaves -- this in Ken Burns' documentary on the Civil War. That sort of statement has always irritated me, brimming over with self righteousness. (I wonder how historians will judge us a hundred years from now. I hope they're kinder to us.) So I am willing to take the temporal context into account. The simple fact is that a movie that humanized the enemy would not have been made in 1945 -- or for years afterward for that matter. Steinbeck's script for "The Moon is Down" was criticized for turning a German soldier into something resembling a human being. And in "The Desert Fox" (ca. 1950) James Mason's touching performance as Erwin Rommel was blasted. In the later "The Desert Rats," playing Rommel again, Mason was forced to resort to the usual stereotype. How would you feel if you now saw a movie that included a partly sympathetic portrayal of a member of Al Qeda? Given all that, this movie is pretty crummy. The crumminess is not only in the script, although it's certainly there too, but especially in the performances, and most notably in Tom Neal's. He was out of his depth, although the part was simple enough. (He was IN his depth in "Detour".) He doesn't even get the Japanese bow right. The bow is face down, smart and snappy, in real military life. Neal bows slowly from the hips down, keeping his face up all the time, as if involved in some particularly outre tai ji exercise. The make up job is astonishing. And his speech! He evidently has a set of false teeth (all Japs are buck-toothed) which make him sound as if he's speaking through a mouth full of tooth paste. On top of that he struggles desperately to impose a "Japanese" accent which consists mostly of substituting [r] for [l] and vice versa. Let's just say he speaks his lines memorably. Sure it's a racist movie, but it WAS wartime, and it's understandable -- a lot more understandable than rounding up Japanese-American families and shuffling them off to internment camps. THAT manifestation of racism is less justifiable. But the movie is pretty bad nonetheless, unless you can enjoy it as pozlost.
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