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Townsend Harris is sent by President Pierce to Japan to serve as the first U.S. Consul-General to that country. Harris discovers enormous hostility to foreigners, as well as the love of a young geisha. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Townsend Harris went on to found the City College of New York, one of the most distinguished public colleges in the United States. Sam Jaffe, who played Harris's right-hand man Henry Heusken in the film, was an alumnus of City College. See more »
When the infected sailors abandon ship and swim ashore, the locals assist them out of the water despite Harris' warnings not to touch them. The natives thereupon all get sick as the disease sweeps through the town, but cholera is rarely spread directly from person to person. The most common method of infection is ingesting tainted food or water. See more »
Surprising social sensitivity so soon after a horrific war.
When you consider that this movie was made only 13 years after the end of the war in the Pacific, with its brutality and carnage, it is quite surprising to see that the "The Barbarian and the Geisha" tries to to present the clash of cultures, 100 years earlier, with such apparent equity and fairness.
While some may see John Wayne as the archetypical posterboy for American jingoism, in fact his character clearly tries to understand the country in which he is trying to establish the consulate, and shows genuine remorse, not arrogance, in noting that in early part of his assignment, all that the Americans had established was a cholera epidemic and the torching of the city to quell it.
While the interracial love story behind the title was somewhat superficial, I thought that the more important aspects of colliding cultures and political shadowboxing was quite interesting and well presented.
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