Laramie: Season 3, Episode 1

Dragon at the Door (26 Sep. 1961)

TV Episode  -   -  Western
7.9
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Slim Sherman and Jess Harper rescue a troupe of Japanese entertainers on their way east when their wagon breaks down near the ranch. Following the wagon closely are a trio of outlaws that ... See full summary »

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Title: Dragon at the Door (26 Sep 1961)

Dragon at the Door (26 Sep 1961) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
John Smith ...
...
...
Daisy Cooper (credit only)
Dennis Holmes ...
...
Haru
Teru Shimada ...
Kami
...
Sable
Joanne Miya ...
Kiko (as Jo Anne Miya)
Anita Loo ...
Yuki
Robert Kino ...
Tomomi
K.L. Smith ...
Barnes
Larry Perron ...
Roy
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Storyline

Slim Sherman and Jess Harper rescue a troupe of Japanese entertainers on their way east when their wagon breaks down near the ranch. Following the wagon closely are a trio of outlaws that believe the troupe is carrying a fortune in opium and they want it. The only thing that they carry is one small boy named Mike Williams who they'd found unconscious on the side of the road. Due to the broken axle on the wagon they are forced lay over at Sherman Ranch to make repairs and give Slim and Jess a lesson in Japanese culture, though it leaves Jess a little bruised. Determined to repay Slim and Jess for their kindness, the troupe puts on an evenings entertainment that turns violent when the outlaws take over the ranch looking for the opium. Instead of opium the outlaws find something far more explosive and Slim and Jess find themselves temporary guardians to Mike. Written by DarSpi

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Western

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26 September 1961 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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This was the first episode broadcast in color. See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting use of Japanese characters in the old west
8 January 2012 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

"Dragon at the Door," the first episode of the third season (1961-62) of "Laramie," was one of many TV western episodes from its era to feature an East-meets-West theme. Sometimes these episodes involved Chinese miners/railroad workers and sometimes they involved Japanese travelers visiting the U.S. in the period after Japan had begun to open up to the west. This episode is one of the latter. A traveling troupe of five Japanese entertainers--a father, three daughters and a future son-in-law--are the victims of an attempted robbery and are aided by the series' two regular heroes, Slim Sherman (John Smith) and Jess Harper (Robert Fuller), who put them up at their stage depot overnight and aid them further when the robbery trio makes another attempt to get the "opium" they believe is being carried by the troupe.

Jess complicates matters as he develops an attraction to one of the Japanese women, Haru (Nobu McCarthy), declaring that "she's pretty as all get-out" and even kissing her in a private moment at night. His attentions to Haru arouse the jealousy of the second Japanese man in the troupe, Tomomi (Robert Kino), who starts a fight with Jess at one point and uses judo on him. Later, the two men join forces to thwart the robbers' attempt to kidnap Haru and Tomomi uses judo and karate on one of the bad guys (TV regular Ed Nelson). It may be one of the earliest depictions of Asian martial arts in a network TV episode.

The culture clash between the Americans and the Japanese is generally handled in a sensitive and understanding manner. In one scene, the Americans are treated to a Japanese-style meal, sitting on the floor and using chopsticks. The American protagonists are depicted as open-minded and fair, strong but gentle. The Japanese are generally treated in a dignified manner, despite occasional traces of stereotypes, such as when Kami, the Japanese father, refers to his daughters, in an act of humility, as "miserable" and "lowly." This doesn't strike me as something a Japanese father would do. There are times when the teleplay writer seems to have confused Japanese and Chinese stereotypes. Also, their act involves Kami throwing knives at targets that just miss his daughter, not something I've ever seen Japanese performers do. Still, this is nowhere near the most egregious of Hollywood depictions of Asian culture.

Teru Shimada, a Japanese actor who worked in Hollywood regularly since the 1930s, plays Kami. I know him chiefly from his role as Osato, the corrupt industrialist in the James Bond film, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967). Nobu McCarthy, a Canadian-born Japanese actress, worked in Hollywood regularly from 1958 to 2000. She'd played Jerry Lewis' Japanese leading lady in THE GEISHA BOY (1958). I was previously unfamiliar with Robert Kino, a Japanese-American actor who plays Tomomi and worked in Hollywood regularly from 1953 to 1994. Joanne Miya plays Kiku, one of the sisters, and I'd previously known her only as a dancer who appears as one of the Puerto Rican Shark girlfriends in WEST SIDE STORY (1961). Anita Loo, the only non-Japanese actor of the five, plays Yuki and has only a handful of other TV credits, all 1960-63. I'm assuming she's Chinese.

Seeing this episode (available on the DVD box set, "Top TV Westerns," from Timeless Media Group/NBC Universal) reminded me that there were plenty of other TV western episodes featuring Asian and Asian-American actors who were active in that era (late 1950s-to-early '60s), e.g. a "Wagon Train" episode starring Sessue Hayakawa as a traveling samurai, and has given me the resolve to seek them out.


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