7.1/10
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43 user 19 critic

Sayonara (1957)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 20 December 1957 (Japan)
A US Air Force major in Kobe confronts his own opposition to marriages between American servicemen and Japanese women when he falls for a beautiful performer.

Director:

Joshua Logan

Writers:

Paul Osborn (screen play), James A. Michener (based on the novel by)
Reviews
Won 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Marlon Brando ... Major Lloyd Gruver
Patricia Owens ... Eileen Webster
James Garner ... Captain Mike Bailey
Martha Scott ... Mrs. Webster
Miiko Taka ... Hana-Ogi
Miyoshi Umeki ... Katsumi
Red Buttons ... Joe Kelly
Kent Smith ... General Mark Webster
Douglass Watson Douglass Watson ... Colonel Crawford (as Douglas Watson)
Reiko Kuba Reiko Kuba ... Fumiko-San
Soo Yong Soo Yong ... Teruko-San
Shochiku Kagekidan Girls Revue Shochiku Kagekidan Girls Revue ... Theatrical Revue
Ricardo Montalban ... Nakamura
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Storyline

Major Lloyd Gruver, a Korean War flying ace reassigned to Japan, staunchly supports the military's opposition to marriages between American troops and Japanese women. But that's before Gruver experiences a love that challenges his own deeply set prejudices... and plunges him into conflict with the U.S. Air Force and Japan's own cultural taboos. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Worlds apart...theirs was the daring love affair violating every rule, every custom, every centuries-old belief! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "Matsubayashi Girls Revue" stage shows in the film were performed by the Shochiku Kagekidan Girls Revue. See more »

Goofs

Major Gruver, said to be a West Point graduate is shown wearing his class ring on his right hand. Academy graduates always wore their class rings on their left hand, a mark of distinction. See more »

Quotes

Joe Kelly: [Major Gruver is entering Joe Kelly's Japanese home for the first time] Hey, off with the shoes. You don't wear shoes in a Japanese house.
Major Gruver: Okay, comin' off... What about the pants?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Miyoshi Umeki (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

Daichoji Zutsumi
(uncredited)
Words and Music by Bunraku Mitsuwa Kai, Monzaemon Chikamatsu and Enjiro Toyosawa
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User Reviews

 
Flawed, but a step forward
18 March 2019 | by gbill-74877See all my reviews

A big step forward for 1957 in terms of racial tolerance and the acceptance of interracial marriages, but marred by sexism and cultural stereotypes. The 'bad guys' in this film oppose interracial dating, and cruelly force American soldiers who marry Japanese women to leave them by transferring them back home. The 'good guys' fall in love across racial lines and have the courage to stand up for it, but their initial motivations seem to revolve around ogling physical beauty or enjoying how submissive Japanese women are. So while quite progressive for the period, it's tinged with elements that are a little repelling today.

As for the performances, Marlon Brando's is bound to cause a love or hate reaction, as he affects a Southern accent and is practically lethargic in the film's first scenes. He has several moments of brilliance, and he also has moments where he garbles words or misspeaks, so I found his performance to be uneven. As for Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki, the Romeo and Juliet couple in the movie, they are earnest enough, but it's a little hard to see what the Academy saw when awarding them both Oscars, Umeki especially. Miiko Tara, on the other hand, is radiant and delivers a fine performance. The movie really picks up when we start learning her backstory; her character has the most depth and she handles it well. Lastly, it's unfortunate that Ricardo Montalban was cast as a Japanese Kabuki performer, but he does a solid job in the role, especially in his brief dance numbers.

That's one thing I could have used a bit more of. In addition to Kabuki and Bunraku, we see a woman's dance troupe performing in beautiful, colorful costumes, and director Joshua Logan cuts these sequences to mere snippets strung together, when I would have liked to see more. Similarly, the film offers a glimpse into Japanese culture and I think its heart was in the right place (and probably was novel for a portion of American audiences in 1957), but it's superficial by today's standards, e.g. learning that one takes shoes off before entering a house, that sake is made from rice, etc. A nice exception was when Tara's character explains why a tea ceremony is so elaborate, saying "The pleasure does not lie in the end itself. It's in the pleasurable steps to that end."

Overall, while I cringed at times, I admired the film for its courage and for its message, which is still relevant. I liked how Brando's character evolved over the movie, and in his defiance of military regulations and cultural norms against miscegenation, I saw the younger generation of the 1950's challenging the older generation, which was so important in the advances over the following decade, and led up to things like the Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court decision of 1967. The ending is also strong along the two main story arcs, and still delivers an emotional impact.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

20 December 1957 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Sayonara See more »

Filming Locations:

Kyoto, Japan See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$26,300,000
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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