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This comedy-drama is partially a gentle satire on America's drive to change the world in the post-war years. One year after World War II, Captain Fisby is sent to the village of Tobiki in Okinawa to teach the people democracy. The first step is to build a school -- but the wily Okinawans know what they really want. They tell him about their culture and traditions -- and persuade him to build something they really want instead: a teahouse. Fisby has a hard time breaking this news to his superiors. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
I just had the chance to see this charming movie again in widescreen format in what evidently is a new or restored print on Turner Classic Movies, and I'm realizing that I love the flick more and more each time I see it. The wonderful cast - Glenn Ford, Paul Ford (ironic - no relation!), Eddie Albert, Marlon Brando and Harry Morgan - do a fine job of playing out the movie's humorous meditation on culture clash, and the ability of a strong but flexible people to maintain their Eastern ways in the face of Western "aid". Brando, in particular, is surprising; this is about as far from Stanley Kowalksi or Terry Malloy as you can get, and one would not think him able to do much with a humorous, cross-racial characterization, yet the brilliant and convincing manner in which he pulls it off reminds us of the great thespian talent he once possessed and which he tended to squander as his life progressed. I believe this film had its origins in a very successful stage play; we can thank the forces involved for committing this funny, charming, and ultimately heart-warming story to celluloid. Best line: "I've come to a state of gracious acceptance somewhere between my ambitions and my limitations."
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