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The Wind Cannot Read (1958)

During World War II, Flight Lieutenant Michael Quinn (Sir Dirk Bogarde), a British officer stationed in Asia, is recruited by Army Intelligence, is tasked with learning Japanese to interrogate Japanese P.O.W.s and he falls in love with his pretty Japanese teacher "Sabby" (Suzuki San) (Yôko Tani).


Ralph Thomas


Richard Mason (novel), Richard Mason (screenplay)




Cast overview:
Dirk Bogarde ... Flight Lieutenant Michael Quinn
Yôko Tani ... 'Sabby' [Suzuki San] (as Yoko Tani)
Ronald Lewis ... Squadron Leader Fenwick
John Fraser ... Flying Officer Peter Munroe
Anthony Bushell ... The Brigadier
Marne Maitland ... Bahadur
Michael Medwin ... Flying Officer Lamb
Richard Leech ... Hobson
Tony Wager ... Moss (as Anthony Wager)
Tadashi Ikeda Tadashi Ikeda ... Itsumi San
Heihachirô Ôkawa Heihachirô Ôkawa ... Lieutenant Nakamura (as Henry Okawa)
Yoichi Matsue Yoichi Matsue ... Corporal Mori
Donald Pleasence ... The Doctor
Joy Michael Joy Michael ... First Nurse
Avice Landone ... Second Nurse


During World War II, the Japanese forces push their way into Burma and threaten to invade British India at the end of 1942. Caught in a flood of war refugees fleeing Burma, R.A.F. Flight Lieutenant Michael Quinn (Sir Dirk Bogarde) and a fellow Officer are retreating toward the Burma-India border. The disorganized column marching under the intense scorching sun runs into a Japanese ambush. Under a hail of fire, they all scatter in all directions. Quinn and his comrade head for the desert. After a few gruelling hours of walking in the infernal desert, they finally reach a British Army outpost. In 1943, Quinn is sent for a bit of rest and relaxation. He's spending his time skiing in the Indian mountains and relaxing at the New Everest Hotel where his Indian orderly, Bahadur (Marne Maitland), constantly spoils him. Fellow R.A.F. Flying Officer Peter Munroe (John Fraser) shows up at the hotel and informs Quinn that no one is leaving for Britain yet. Munroe also tells Quinn that the two of ... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Dare They Cross the Color Line? See more »


Drama | Romance | War


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Did You Know?


Kenneth More turned down the lead, and later called it the biggest mistake of his professional career. See more »


When Quinn is being hung by his wrists as a punishment by the Japanese, the position of Fenwick, lying on ground level near him, changes between shots. See more »


Officer Lamb: I am always staggered by the consistency of fate in penalising virtue.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: BURMA 1942

"Though on the sign it is written: 'Don't pluck these blossoms'- it is useless against the wind, which cannot read."


INDIA 1943 See more »


Referenced in Absolute Beginners (1986) See more »


The Wind Cannot Read
Written and Composed by Peter Hart
and Sung by Vera Lynn
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User Reviews

Soldier Dirk Bogarde in India in World War II marries Madame Butterfly from Japan who gets sick in Taj Mahal.
18 May 2017 | by clanciaiSee all my reviews

A very beautiful melodrama of tragic love set in India in some of its most enchanting places (including Taj Mahal, of course,) under the shadow of the war with Japan. Dirk starts off escaping from them in Burma and ends up their prisoner once again. Between his ordeals he experiences an ideal romance with a Japanese girl who teaches Japanese to intelligence soldiers, one of whom is Dirk. The class sequences are almost the best of the film. Charming music embellishes the film and wraps it up in bitter-sweet romance which never gets too sleazy, since there are constant complications.

It's an odd film for Dirk Bogarde and a very singular war and love story, very much akin to William Holden's war and love experiences in Korea and Hongkong, but this is both more idyllic, more intimate and more personal, since Yoko Tani is a more Madame Butterfly kind of girl, more sensitive and vulnerable, and Dirk is delicate enough to treat her with care. so he doesn't make matters worse, as he did in "Simba".

The film leaves you with a few question marks, though. Whatever happened to the miserable Fenwick? You can only suppose the worst. But the worst gaffe is the tremendous mistake of Brigadier Anthony Bushell not to immediately turn back when he sees an obvious booby-trap on the road, a dreadful tactical mistake, which no qualified Brigadier would have risked committing. But then without that goof, there would have been no great finale to the melodrama.

The most beautiful detail of the film is the symbology, though, which doesn't become clear until afterwards. A sign says that you may not pluck cherry blossoms while they bloom, but the wind cannot read and plucks them anyway, one of those enigmatic but most appropriate Japanese philosophical adages as a motto for the whole film.

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Release Date:

14 July 1958 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

El viento no sabe leer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Rank Organisation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System) (uncredited)


Color (Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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