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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>
Based on the true story of American diplomat Townsend Harris, his time in Japan in the 1850s and 60s, and his romance with a 17-year-old geisha named Kichi. Their story is one of the most well-known folk tales in Japan. The real Harris died in New York in 1878, and the real Kichi committed suicide in Shimoda in 1892. See more »
At one point, Townsend calls to his Chinese servant Sam; this was not, as some thought, a mistaken reference to an actor's real name. See more »
A Hollywood mini-epic that is more about the barbarian's political strategies than the geisha's sensual art. In fact, though John Wayne was the right choice for the role of Townsend Harris, the first US consul general in Japan, he looks awkward as a romantic lead, especially besides sleek Eiko Ando as the geisha. Huston handled the Japanese aspects of the story in a reverent fashion; the film even begs for subtitles, since he let the Japanese perform considerable portions of dialogue in their native language. As Wayne perhaps for different reasons- Huston must have felt attracted to the colonialist side of the story, but although it's known that Fox reshot scenes and re-edited the film, there wasn't much to do with a script concealing the expansionist interest in breaking Japan isolationism behind the Consul General's demagogy. A recommended curio.
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