Reviewed bybkoganbingVote: 9/10
The books of James Michener taking readers to faraway places with strange sounding names were probably at their most popular in the 1940s and 1950s. His Tales of the South Pacific became a major blockbuster Broadway hit for Rodgers&Hammerstein. South Pacific was directed by Joshua Logan and he was a natural to do the film adaption of another Michener success, Sayonara.
It was only a decade before that American films during World War II did not portray the Japanese kindly. I'm sure it wasn't easy for people who fought the Pacific war to change attitudes overnight. That and a general no fraternization policy with occupied peoples in general are at the crux of this story about interracial romance.
Sayonara is a relevant film today. The military has always butted in to the personal lives of its personnel in ways no civilian employer could get away with legally. In America at the time Sayonara was made there were still miscegenation laws on the books in many states. Today gays in the military is a big issue. Someone may one day do a Sayonara like film on that issue.
Joshua Logan was on familiar ground. South Pacific also had racism as a component of its plot. With a sure hand, Logan assembled a great cast and crafts a beautiful story.
Marlon Brando, Patricia Owens, James Garner, Kent Smith some of the occidental players do a fine job. But the picture is stolen by the orientals here. Miko Taka hits the mark beautifully as Brando's love interest. But the real stars are the two that one both Supporting players Oscars, Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki.
Buttons is your everyman enlisted man Air Force member. He falls passionately in love with Katsumi played by Miyoshi Umeki. They marry and the military cruelly does everything they can to break them up. They presume to KNOW what's best for Buttons and Umeki. Buttons was a TV comedian and a fair talent, but he never got a part as good as this the rest of his career.
And Miyoshi Umeki's Oscar was the first one given to an oriental. It got a great deal of attention because at the time of the Academy Awards, Miyoshi was starring on Broadway in Flower Drum Song. I was privileged to see it on Broadway, it was the first Broadway show I ever saw. I still carry the memory of it.
That Oscar symbolized something else too. Our war with Japan was really over and we saw in Sayonara a great nation with a proud tradition and culture.
Ricardo Montalban plays Nakamura, a Kabuki Theatre actor. If Sayonara were done today, Logan would never get away with it. But Montalban is fine.
Good location photography and a grand story. This film should be revived more often it has a great moral.
Reviewed byGooperVote: 7/10
Brando's position in the pantheon of the greats is secure. Now that
he is gone, (his life expired just yesterday) it will be worthwhile to
review his legacy. Pictures like 'Sayonara', which were grade 'A'
productions, but subject to criticism when they came out ,can now
be viewed in a new light. We can now see the care lavished upon
them. 'Sayonara' is a superb film in every category.
Brando's odd (to say the least) 'southern' accent proves to be a
brilliant choice in defining his character's contrasting presence in
the Japanese scene, an approach he would employ later in his
amazing, bizarre interpretation of Fletcher Christian. Whatever one
thinks of Brando's choices in tackling a role, he was never dull,
and watching him experiment is a viewer's treat. And Miyoshi
Umeki: what a discovery! The portrayal of those in Japan who are
just living their lives is done with sensitivity and humanity.
Just as important as the stars' performance and the story itself, is
Franz Waxman's music. It cannot be praised too highly, and is a
perfect example of a meticulously crafted score: mature, totally
sincere, and without one trace of cynicism or misdirection. Film
music like this is safe from being taken for granted. Waxman's
theme for the Red Buttons/Miyoshi Umeki relationship is among
the most poignant and haunting even written for the screen. Its
variations range from wistful to heartbreaking.
None other than Irving Berlin supplied the title song (he gets as
much screen credit as Waxman!). No pop hit, it nevertheless
integrates well with Waxman's score.
Ellsworth Fredericks' masterful Technirama lensing makes this
picture one of the best of the 50s. Seeing it in widescreen is a
thrilling event. The title sequence, in red lettering, is a fine example
of how every department, even one which deals with the 'job' of
giving credit, made sure that each element of a film like this
worked in concert with each other, to create a cohesive whole.
What a pleasure it is to have a proper introduction to a film, with
visuals and overture tailored to the drama to come. Such was the
style then. Bill Goetz produced. Thanks, Bill!
Josh Logan as a director is often reviled, but why is it then, that his
pictures are especially enjoyable, particularly with repeat
viewings? His huge closeups are terrific! He really went for the
gusto in splashing his stories on the screen, and made the most
of the 'big Hollywood production' thing.
Jack L. Warner's mid to late 50s productions rivaled 20th-Fox's in
lavishness and quality. Fortunately for us, the fans of pictures like
'Sayonara', he and Zanuck always tried to outdo each other.
Tonight, to honor the memory of Marlon Brando, I'm rolling
Reviewed byMartinHaferVote: 7/10
I really enjoyed this movie about the relationships that sometimes developed between American servicemen and Japanese women in post-war Japan--as well as the obstacles that prejudices created for them. Brando goes from having contempt for the Japanese (which is natural considering WW2) to falling in love with a Japanese woman and wanting to marry her. His performance is okay (I am not a major fan of his acting style) and the movie is marvelous throughout. Red Buttons received an Oscar for his touching performance of another GI who falls in love in Japan (though the Japanese women who plays opposite him also did a remarkable job).
I don't want to spoil it but the movie is a good one to watch with a box of tissues.
This movie manages to say SOMETHING and be entertaining at the same time. A mostly underrated gem.
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.