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 ... See full summary »
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Huston later dismissed this film, claiming that the final version, re-cut by the studio, didn't resemble his vision at all and that he would've liked to have his name removed from the credits. Stylistically, Huston wanted to make it a particularly Japanese film in terms of photography, pacing, color and narration. According to him, only bits of this attempt were still intact and visible in the theatrical version. 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 »
If you were to make a real film about Townsend Harris, the first American diplomat in Japan, the guy you would have cast in the role was Clifton Webb. The real Harris was an aesthete like Webb's persona on screen, never married, might have been gay as Webb was. Now that would have been an interesting film.
But done the way John Huston did it, with Harris as a romantic figure, Tyrone Power would have been perfect casting. I have a gut feeling that since 20th Century Fox produced this, the property might have been at one time meant for Power. Wayne looked so awkward and ridiculous mouthing those romantic lines that Ty Power could have done in his sleep.
John Huston said that in casting John Wayne he was trying to show a clash of cultures, Tokugawa Japan being opened to the west by the young vibrant, expanding America and Huston saw Wayne as the personification of 19th century America. Well it didn't work. Supposedly both men developed a hearty dislike of the other.
I will say this though, it's a spectacularly photographed film and it does show quite accurately the Japan that Townsend Harris was dealing with.
But it was still one of the big duds for the Duke's career.
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