12 user 8 critic

Behind the Rising Sun (1943)

Approved | | Drama, War | 27 January 1944 (Mexico)
In Japan, foreigners and their Japanese friends are caught up in the rising tide of militarism.


Edward Dmytryk


James Young (book) (as James R. Young), Emmet Lavery (original screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Margo ... Tama Shimamura
Tom Neal ... Taro Seki
J. Carrol Naish ... Reo Seki
Robert Ryan ... Lefty O'Doyle
Gloria Holden ... Sara Braden
Donald Douglas ... Clancy O'Hara (as Don Douglas)
George Givot ... Boris
Adeline De Walt Reynolds ... Grandmother
Leonard Strong ... Tama's Father


Cornell-educated Taro Seki returns to Japan just as the war party gains control. He hopes to work for American engineer O'Hara, and falls for his secretary Tama, but he is drafted. War service in China finally hardens Taro to atrocities, and he returns to Japan a changed man. His father, now a cabinet minister, feels remorse at what war has done to his son and country, but too late to save Taro's foreign friends. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The year's most timely story.


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »





English | Japanese

Release Date:

27 January 1944 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Alytrotoi laoi See more »


Box Office


$239,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Tama is using a Western (or Latin) character typewriter, not a Japanese one, which is much different in design at the time from the familiar QWERTY keyboard. A Japanese typewriter from that time - before computerized word processing - had 2,400 different kanji characters to select from out of a large tray in front of the machine and was far more manually work-intensive. See more »


Car on a dirt street with tires screeching as it stopped quickly to avoid hitting a woman. See more »


Three Little Words
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Ruby
Lyrics by Bert Kalmar
Played in the bar
See more »

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User Reviews

HUAC's attention
28 May 2016 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Although some very interesting things were said in it, in the final analysis Behind The Rising Sun was more propaganda than truth to it. It was also insulting and in fact a couple of things might have gotten director Edward Dmytryk membership in the Hollywood 10.

J. Carrol Naish and Tom Neal with Oriental makeup on them play father and son. Naish a member of the rising new business class in Japan can afford to send Neal to Cornell in America. He comes back sporting new hep cat idioms of expression.

The film tries for some verisimilitude as Naish says that Japan is about to take its place in the world, that the white man is not a majority by any means in the world. Neal doesn't quite to make of his dad's militance but drinks it in far more than he realizes then. That bit of dialog I'm sure got noticed by the folks at House Un American Activities Committee headed around then by Mississippi racist John Rankin.

Later on the roles reverse as Naish decides his country has become to fascist with its Samurai based code of military behavior. Japan is the great example always held up by historians about the need for civilian control of the military. By then Neal is a true believer in the destiny of Japan.

Another thing that got HUAC's attention was George Givot playing the Russian journalist who becomes friend and benefactor to Americans caught in Japan after Pearl Harbor. A friendly portrayal of a Communist would certainly do the trick with the HUAC thought police.

At one point Neal and former employer engineer Don Douglas have a nasty confrontation and decide to settle it with seconds. Neal gets wrestler Mike Mazurki who excels in Judo. Douglas gets his friend Robert Ryan to go in for him. In real life Mazurki was a wrestler before turning to acting and being really good at it. Ditto for Ryan who did box as an amateur and both look like they know what they're doing. Both go into the ring using their arts. Ryan and Mazurki must have had one good laugh over it because the heavier and very agile Mazurki would have killed Ryan.

A couple of other key roles are Dorothy Thompson like reporter Gloria Holden and Margo playing the girl Neal wants to marry. Her heart is truly broken.

Behind The Rising Sun had some serious things to say, but in the end with that insulting makeup just doesn't hold up today.

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