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Joe Butterfly (1957)

Approved | | Comedy | 17 July 1957 (France)
American soldiers in occupied Tokyo get mixed up with a conniving black-marketeer.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Pvt. Joe Woodley
...
Sgt. Ed Kennedy
...
Harold Hathaway
Kieko Shima ...
Chieko
...
Col. E.E. Fuller
...
Sgt. Dick Mason
...
Sgt. Jim McNulty
Shinpei Shimazaki ...
Boku (little boy)
Reiko Higa ...
False Tokyo Rose
Tatsuo Saitô ...
Sakayama (father)
Chizu Shimazaki ...
Mother
...
Maj. Ferguson
...
Sgt. Oscar Hulick
Frank Chase ...
Yeo. Saul Bernheim
...
Col. Hopper
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Storyline

The staff of "Yank" magazine are among the first American troops into Tokyo after the Japanese surrender. Their mission: produce an issue of the magazine...in three days. To accomplish the seeming impossible, they reluctantly enlist the aid of black marketeer and arch-conniver Joe Butterfly, who sets them up in a palatial private mansion, complete with lovely daughter -- strictly against regulations. How much trouble can our heroes talk their way out of? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Uproarious Saga of Those Hilarious Heroes Who Took Tokyo in a Storm of Laughter with their Riotous Operation Kimono!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 July 1957 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Die Rose von Tokio  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

Unusual and pleasant service comedy
3 April 2012 | by See all my reviews

Comedies about U.S. troops in occupied Japan were kind of a subgenre in the 1950s. Many of them were as much sentimental as funny, and that's true of "Joe Butterfly." It's far from hilarious but gives you a warm feeling.

The casting may seem strange, with action star Audie Murphy in a comic role and Burgess Meredith playing an Asian. But both are pretty good. Murphy plays a member of a military journalism unit arriving in Tokyo just after the war. Meredith's quaintly named character, "Joe Butterfly," is a roguish but likable black marketeer who latches on to him.

Not many movies about the military deal much with the black market, unless to treat it as something exotic and sinister. But it was part of life for U.S. troops stationed in places like Japan in the 1940s, and this movie is less judgmental about it than most.

Murphy, boyish-looking and soft-spoken, is the heart of the film. His character is easygoing, almost naive, whether he's befriending Joe or falling in love with a Japanese girl.

This is not as strange as it sounds. Though he got to Hollywood because of his real-life World War II heroics, and then played mostly tough guys, Murphy was never crazy about war films. He made only two movies actually set in World War II. When he did play men in uniform, he liked films that humanized the GI. This film does that.

Recruiting a famous white actor to play a major Asian role may seem strange today. It may even seem offensive. But it used to be done frequently, so maybe it's forgivable. Meredith gives it his best shot.

If you don't expect too much, this one is worth a look.


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