Wagon Train: Season 2, Episode 9

The Sakae Ito Story (3 Dec. 1958)

TV Episode  -   -  Western
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 18 users  
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The major comes upon two Japanese men, attacked by Indians and heading towards California. He learns one of the men plans on committing hara kiri while others on the train have designs on a black box they suspect may contain precious gems.

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Title: The Sakae Ito Story (03 Dec 1958)

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
...
...
Flint McCullough (credit only)
...
Sakae Ito
...
Sailor Blaine
Frank McGrath ...
Terry Wilson ...
Jack Lambert ...
Tom Revere
Henry Rowland ...
Blaine's stooge
Dennis Moore ...
Burt Rake
Steven Ritch ...
Chief Sharp Knife
Robert Kino ...
Matsu
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Storyline

The wagon train finds a stranded wagon with two Japanese men after an attack by Comanches. One is a samurai who was escorting a Prince from Japan who has died to Washington DC. The men are now returning to Japan. A man known as Sailor who had been to the Far East and Japan befriends the Japanese men believing a case they carried held expensive jewels. He and his three friends plot to leave the train, have the Japanese accompany them, and then rob them. When Sakae Ito decides to stay with the train due to Adam's advice, the men kill his aide and steal the box. When they open it, they find only the ashes of the dead Prince and an inexpensive religious idol. Ito follows them and as he prepares to attack with his sword, the Comanches surround them. The Chief realizes Ito is not white. He takes the surviving men's guns and gives them tomahawks. Adams, Hawks, and Wooster arrive to find Ito has hacked the men to death and Ito says he must commit hara-kiri there instead of returning to Japan.... Written by Anonymous

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Western

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Release Date:

3 December 1958 (USA)  »

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(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

 
The East Goes West To Return East
3 June 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

One of the most unusual Wagon Train episodes involved Sessue Hayakawa taking a journey west with one servant, Robert Kino and taking a lacquered box that rumors start abounding on the train is some kind of treasure.

Hayakawa was a big name at the time having just come off the previous year of an Academy Award nominated performance in The Bridge on the River Kwai. But Wagon Train prided itself in having many big name movie guest stars featured in each episode.

Hayakawa plays a Samurai warrior who has a commission from his late master and when it's done, he will commit harikiri. I still remember Ward Bond as Major Adams talking with Hayakawa trying to understand why in his culture suicide is what's honored and what's expected.

Traveling on the train are three toughs played by James Griffith, Jack Lambert, and Dennis Moore. Griffith was in fact a sailor at one time and had journeyed to Japan and he fills the other two with stories that this box must contain jewels or gold or silver or something valuable.

All three of them while stealing the box and Hayakawa are captured by Indians, the box breaks open and it's the ashes of the dead master who Hayakawa was accompanying back to Japan.

The scene in which Hayakawa breaks down is one of the most moving I ever saw on an episode of Wagon Train. He wants to avenge his late master and the Indians are willing to let them go at it. They give the three toughs tomahawks and Hayakawa gets to use his samurai sword.

I still remember to this day though I haven't seen the episode in forty years, Lambert and Moore telling Griffith it's three on one, we'll take him. But Griffith who's been to Japan and has seen what Samurais are capable of, gets on his knees and begs for his life. I think we've seen enough Samurai films to know what happens.

This episode was one of the best they ever did in that it was a look at a country's traditions not generally known to the American public. The Wagon Train was making its annual journeys west in post Civil War America, right around the same time that Japan was opening up to the world after over 250 years of Tokugawa imposed isolation. It was as new to Ward Bond and the Wagon Train regulars as it was to the viewers who only knew the Japanese as recent World War II foes.

Sessue Hayakawa gave a most moving performance, I do so hope that Wagon Train gets broadcast again on some cable channel.


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