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The Mikado (1939)

Not Rated | | Musical, Comedy | 1 May 1939 (USA)
The son of the Mikado of Japan, a wandering minstrel, falls for a girl who is engaged to her guardian.


W.S. Gilbert (libretto based upon the opera by), Geoffrey Toye (adaptation)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Kenny Baker ... Nanki-Poo
Martyn Green Martyn Green ... Ko-Ko
Sydney Granville Sydney Granville ... Pooh-Bah
John Barclay ... The Mikado
Gregory Stroud Gregory Stroud ... Pish-Tush
Jean Colin ... Yum-Yum
Constance Willis Constance Willis ... Katisha
Elizabeth Paynter Elizabeth Paynter ... Pitti-Sing
Kathleen Naylor Kathleen Naylor ... Peep-Bo


In a mythical Japan, Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor, has been appointed Lord High Executioner and must find someone to execute before the arrival of the ruling Mikado. He lights upon Nanki-Poo, a strolling minstrel who loves the beautiful Yum-Yum. But Yum-Yum is also loved by Ko-Ko, and Nanki-Poo, seeing no hope for his love, considers suicide. Ko-Ko offers to solve both their problems by executing Nanki-Poo, and an agreement is reached whereby Ko-Ko will allow Nanki-Poo to marry Yum-Yum for one month, at the end of which Nanki-Poo will be executed, in time for the arrival of the Mikado. But what Ko-Ko doesn't know is that Nanki-Poo is the son of the Mikado and has run away to avoid a betrothal to an old harridan named Katisha. The arrival of the Mikado brings all the threads of the tale together. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Musical | Comedy


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Sir W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan's comic opera "The Mikado or, The Town of Titipu" was their ninth of fourteen collaborations. It opened on March 14, 1885 in London at the Savoy Theatre and ran for 672 performances. See more »


Version of The Mikado (1967) See more »


The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze
(1885) (uncredited)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
Performed by Kenny Baker
Reprised later by Jean Colin
See more »

User Reviews

Very well done, pity they didn't include all the tunes
26 February 2012 | by jfcowieSee all my reviews

I saw this in 1939 when it was first released ( I was 8 years old ). What I remember most vividly was the fact that the audience was told that if they loudly applauded any number then they would replay it there and then, i.e. give an encore, and they did. I've never seen that done in any cinema before nor did I ever see it done again. The production is much better than I could remember or that I had heard about it since. The transfer to DVD has been done very well indeed. It is a pity about the cuts but even so the production is a delight with excellent diction and the 'cut glass' accents of the pretty maids is splendid.

With regard to the cuts: the biggest loss is Katisha's "Hearts do not break" and Katisha's duet with Koko " if that is so let's merrily marry". Yumyum's " The sun whose ray's" is truncated in that the second verse about the moon is omitted, however the Mikado's " I've got a little list " is there and his laugh is terrific, worthy of Boris Karloff. What did surprise me was that Nankipoo's song " A wandering minstrel I " had an unexpected resonance when combined with the date 1939, it gave his patriotic ballad section a shiver up my spine and brought back memories I would rather not have brought back.

Anyway Ken Baker's singing was excellent and as I said the whole thing was beautifully done. I run an opera group and am going to suggest that we show this one evening and try to re-create the encores.

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Release Date:

1 May 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A mikádó See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

G & S Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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