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  • I have spent many years on Okinawa and am always amazed at Brando's ability to create a character (Sakini) that is true to the Okinawan character. I have watched it many times over and enjoy it every time. When I'm asked why I visit Okinawa so often, I usually loan them my copy of "Teahouse" and wait for a response. It is a story of a resilient and happy people who have retained their culture, through many invasions. Brando's monologue at the beginning and end of the film masterfully explains it all. The kids will like it and adults should get a laugh while watching the arrogant victors being steered to the Okinawan's needs in a hilarious manner. It's not quite history and it's not quite fantasy, but it's all good fun.
  • I just had the chance to see this charming movie again in widescreen format in what evidently is a new or restored print on Turner Classic Movies, and I'm realizing that I love the flick more and more each time I see it. The wonderful cast - Glenn Ford, Paul Ford (ironic - no relation!), Eddie Albert, Marlon Brando and Harry Morgan - do a fine job of playing out the movie's humorous meditation on culture clash, and the ability of a strong but flexible people to maintain their Eastern ways in the face of Western "aid". Brando, in particular, is surprising; this is about as far from Stanley Kowalksi or Terry Malloy as you can get, and one would not think him able to do much with a humorous, cross-racial characterization, yet the brilliant and convincing manner in which he pulls it off reminds us of the great thespian talent he once possessed and which he tended to squander as his life progressed. I believe this film had its origins in a very successful stage play; we can thank the forces involved for committing this funny, charming, and ultimately heart-warming story to celluloid. Best line: "I've come to a state of gracious acceptance somewhere between my ambitions and my limitations."
  • This film is an under-appreciated and charming little adventure set in the time immediately after World War II. It has a very enjoyable mix of some excellently-cast actors, from the laid-back Glenn Ford, the frenetic Eddie Albert, and the pompous Paul Ford, to the host of beguiling Japanese actors. Casting Marlon Brando as Sakini requires a little suspension of belief, but his contribution quickly adds to the seductive quality of the movie. It turns out to be a good send-up of the officious, but largely benign, senior military leadership of the era, but largely revolves around Glenn Ford's character, Capt. Fisby, finding his métier. Mainly it is a loving and alluring little fiction about two peoples getting to know and appreciate each other.

    It is a very nice little comedy to be enjoyed, but it clearly is not meant to be a documentary representation of U.S. Military occupation forces, and if it is viewed as such, much of the magic of the movie will be lost. While it may contain a few minor instances of the attitudes of that day, some of which are no longer politically correct, there is no malice in the characterizations and the overall message is one of appreciation of both cultures. A very enjoyable way to escape the hassle and hustle of today.
  • Marlon Brando was amazing in this film. I saw the comments made on TCM before they started the film and they said he saw the stage play and begged Paramount (?) to let him have a part in it when they made the film. They said he could have any part he wanted and he picked Sakini, the translator. As a Japanese teacher I want to tell you that I was stunned at his perfect accent! He spoke English exactly as a native Japanese person would. If I hadn't been told ahead of time that it was Marlon Brando, there is no way you could have convinced me that it wasn't a native Japanese actor doing the part. I could see that an attempt was made to make the natives look uneducated and doltish, but having lived in Japan for a year and a half, I simply couldn't see them that way. All you have to do is take a few minutes to watch any people and see the intelligence in their eyes and in their mannerisms and you can see how intelligent they really are whether YOU understand their language or not!
  • This movie is soooooo funny!

    For those who think it is racist, wake-up!!! The Americans are the ones being made fun of! And Brando as a Japanese? Just hilarious!!! Who would have thought?!

    I can't believe that some people are saying Glenn Ford stumbles while tying to ad-lib his lines... IT IS CALLED ACTING!!! And he does a wonderful job at it!!!

    See this movie, and judge by yourself! 4 1/2 * out of 5
  • wiggy305614 April 2005
    For a guy who had some heavy duty roles,Waterfront,Sreetcar etc. this role was a real challenge for Brando and he is fabulous and steals movie although Glenn Ford is great too. This shows Brando's brilliance as an actor not that there was ever any doubt but this early in his career to take this comedic challenge shows his versatility. Is Glenn Ford ever bad? I don't think he gets the credit for all his talent. This movie probably could not be made today a victim of PC. Must have Asian play Asian and don't offend the the Japanese although the only people made to look like fool were the Americans which is fine with me because it's a comedy and people are suppose to look foolish. Never on, but caught on TCM.
  • EighthSense11 July 2004
    A gem!
    This movie was the first chance to see Marlon Brando in a truly comical role, not the "He Man"-unbelievably good! His accent, his body movements, the Japanese he spoke, hard to believe this was the same man who did the Waterfront.I really think he deserved an award for this role. These were a couple of the most enjoyable hours I've ever spent. Having lived in Okinawa, and familiar with the practical, down-to-earth people there, I enjoyed the movie that makes so much fun and caricatures narrow-mindedness and pompousness while exalting creativity, adaptation, and "what really matters". The movie does make fun of the narrow-mindedness of some Americans, and shows the Okinawans with respect and tenderness, as assertive, business-minded, resilient, and proud. A real quality movie, and I'm so glad I taped it from Turner Classic movies.10 out of 10.
  • Casting Marlon Brando in this film as Sakini, a Japanese interpreter for American troops in post WW-II Japan is considered by many critics and film historians alike as one of the worst casting errors ever made in a film history. In my opinion, though, Marlon Brando is the one responsible for turning this quite an average film into a hillarious comedy. Yes, they really did it. With a little bit of make up and great effort from actor's part to learn Japanese mannerism and language in order to get an accent in his speech we have here Marlon Brando in his most unimaginable role. The rest of the cast is also quite good, namely Paul Ford as Colonel Waiwright Purdy III, a somehow cliche figure of stubborn, narrow minded US military officer and Glenn Ford by his side as Captain Fisby, for whom Brando's character Sakini ends up working as an interpreter and, of cause, unforgettable Machiko Kyo, as a spirited geisha, whom lovers of Japanese cinema must remember from Akira Kurosawa's films.

    Directed by Daniel Mann (Butterfield 8, Come Back, Little Sheba) and based on John Patrick's stage play that was a big hit on Broadway at it's time, The Teahouse of the August Moon is slow in parts and in terms of some aspects of the story considerably aged and outdated but still funny and entertaining movie. 8/10
  • SquirePM20 August 2000
    This movie is a joke! A joke! Get it??? A joke from beginning to end.

    And it's hysterical. From the patently ludicrous comedy turn by Marlon Brando to the patented comic shtick by the wonderful Paul Ford. With Glenn Ford and Eddie Albert sandwiched in the middle in a farcical romp that barely lets you stop laughing long enough to catch your breath.

    Ah, the mighty American conquerors, hornswoggled by the "simple peasants" of the beaten nation. Peter Sellers did this again a few years later in The Mouse That Roared - - let's get the Americans to beat us in a war so they'll make us rich!

    But this one is a LOT funnier. ***** out of *****

    And by the way, when I sent this tape to my daughter she called me and said she liked the film but I told her Marlon Brando was in it, and he wasn't! Ah, these twentysomethings!
  • I am amazed about some of the other comments here. This is a hilarious movie!!

    Brando was great . . . no doubt. Some people say that this was an example of awful casting but I read somewhere that Brando saw the play and just loved it. He pushed for the movie to be made and insisted that he be given the role of "Sakini" so it was Brando himself who did that casting!

    I just laughed out loud at many scenes in this movie. The initial meeting of Capt. Fisby (the amazing Glenn Ford) and Col. Purdy (the perfect Paul Ford) is GREAT! Also, the "wrestling match" between the Captain and his geisha is hysterical. This movie IS a classic! It is one of my favorites because of the great writing and the wonderful acting.

    Glenn Ford is ALWAYS good and this one is no different. He IS Capt. Fisby and he is hilarious!! I've seen this movie many times and I know I will still watch it any time that it is on.

  • kyle_furr9 March 2004
    Marlon Brando stars as a Japanese interpreter and Glenn Ford plays a captain who has been in almost every branch in the military. Ford is ordered to go to a Japanese village to teach the people about democracy and to build a schoolhouse in the shape of the pentagon. The Japanese are only interested in building a teahouse and their isn't enough money to build both. The Japanese try to sell some homemade stuff but it won't sell until Ford finds out that they also make brandy. The military can't get enough brandy, so they build a teahouse instead of a schoolhouse. The military don't like what Ford is doing so they send a psychiatrist but he ends up helping them out instead. I thought Glenn Ford was great here and Brando also did a good job.
  • EdgarST4 August 2017
    I saw «The Teahouse of the August Moon» today for the third time. The first time I watched it I was a small boy and it remained in my mind as something very pleasant. Then, a few years ago, I saw it again and thought that it had "graciously passed the test of time". Today I made an introduction about it for the personnel of the Electoral Court of Panama, as «The Teahouse…» started a series of film projections with later discussions about themes, subjects, situations, concepts contained in cinema. Movies like this one raise questions about democracy, military occupation, the meeting of cultures, the oppression of one culture over people from a different place with a different worldview, imperialism and so on. It is still an enchanting comedy with bright touches of satire, a few old- fashioned jokes and moving realizations by ordinary people –both American and Japanese-, which compensate for its artificiality, verbosity and Marlon Brando's forced characterization of the Japanese narrator. It does so with film editing that gives good rhythm to the plot (which has by itself a lot of vitality in the way it was directed); fine and fluid camera-work and funny performances by Glenn Ford and Machiko Kyo (who also dances a beautiful choreography). The third part is excessively formulaic in order to reach a cheerful conclusion, but it is after all a product of a time of world tension and political struggle, and in those situations, people ask for happy endings. Those were the days of the Cold War after World War II, with the anti-communist witch-hunting still fresh in everybody's minds, and the Hays Code still ruling the representation of life in all its manifestation, most notable eroticism, which is a strong element in the story. Watch it, it is very good.
  • In watching "Teahouse of the August Moon," again recently, I can see how it made such a smash on Broadway. Besides its very funny plot and script, the setting seems ideal for a stage. Or, did they move the stage setting to Japan or elsewhere for the movie? I ask that because after three viewings over the years, the thought has stuck in my mind that it seemed like it was on stage. Perhaps the final scene when we see Sakini directing the locals to reassemble the teahouse drove that thought more than anything. I performed and worked in theater at the college level, and it struck me as a beautiful job of a change of sets and scenery.

    The further we get away from the 20th century war years, the less humorous some of the spoofs of military management seem to be. I may have found this film much funnier years ago, but it seems to me now to be just OK or good. This is a comedy of situations, not witty dialog. And, its humor derives to a great extent from the variety of characters. But for one, I could have rated it a notch or two higher.

    Glenn Ford just does not deliver the humor in his role as Capt. Fisby. He moves between a hapless, seemingly lazy guy who has lots of bad luck, to a frenetic, nervous character who's worried about doing things right. Then, he becomes a very laid back, un-excitable character who doesn't seem like anything will ruffle him. It just doesn't seem to work. The right actor might be able to deliver that, but it doesn't work for Ford. And, that's too bad, because as one of the two main leads, his character is a great part of the film. I know Ford was capable of great acting, but his interpretation for this role misses the mark.

    Now, what earns the film seven stars from me are three performances and the local extras. Marlon Brando is excellent as Sakini, Eddie Albert is fantastic as Capt. McLean, and Paul Ford is superb as Col. Purdy. Purdy and McLean are the sources of most of the funny streaks of this film. We see a good contrast in how Albert transforms from the straight-laced psychologist to the giddy gardener. It works beautifully for him, and he is superb in that role. Paul Ford is a wonderful character actor who plays bombastic buffoons with bravado. And, Brando is excellent as the wonderful interpreter whom we know translates things to come out his way. His opening dialog is very good – in Oriental theatre style, he is the narrator who gives the story's background and sets the stage, so to speak.

    Films in which white actors play other races draw the ire of some people yet today. If they are derogatory of the race or character, they surely should be criticized. But, otherwise not. Because this is theater (on stage or on film), and that is part of what acting is all about. Making one's self into another character or person, of whatever age, race, physical condition, mental state or appearance – is a hallmark of acting. To aspiring thespians or established actors, the challenge of a different or demanding role is energizing. I played Hsieh Ping-Kuei in a college production of "Lady Precious Stream" by Chinese playwright and director S.I. Hsiung. Mr. Hsiung went to London in 1932 to pursue post- graduate studies of Shakespeare. Shortly after his arrival, he wrote Lady Precious Stream in English, adapting it from his Chinese culture. It was a huge success, running for 1,000 performances in 1935 and 1936 at the People's National Theatre of London. Its cast was all Caucasian, and in 1936 it moved to Broadway in the U.S. where is success continued. It was made into movies in England in 1938 and 1950, adapted by Hsiung, again with Caucasian casts.

    I should like to see someone make a movie of "Lady Precious Stream" shot on location with the full original script. It could be with Asians in all the roles, or it could include a mix if one or more Western stars wanted to tackle a Chinese role. I think many Western audiences today would enjoy it immensely. The story is a romantic, sometimes comic, domestic drama set in a time of instability during the Tang Dynasty.

    In the meantime, "Teahouse of the August Moon" can entertain as a comic look at U.S. military management in a conquered country whose culture is much different from that of America.
  • The story line is extremely humorous and the cast (including Paul Ford, Glenn Ford, Eddie Albert) is perfect. Marlon Brando is especially wonderful and it's a welcome departure from his more "serious" roles.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Dear Marlon Brando,

    you were an unusual casting choice for the role of Sakini, a sort of a Japanese man Friday to occupying American forces looking to spread democracy across Japan. You looked like you were having fun and for once I could understand exactly what you were saying as you were not mumbling. I would love to hear the story behind your casting as a Japanese villager.

    The film is a farcical and feel good social satire about American attempts to spread their values and way of life in the village of Tobiki, Okinawa after World War 2. Glenn Ford is the good hearted solider who is trying to impart the merits of democracy to the unsuspecting villagers with the help of Sakini. But things do not go according to plan and Ford's character ends up falling in love with the village and even helps them set up a brewery. A light-hearted study of American follies ..... I mean foreign policy and attitudes towards the natives, the film has some great one liners and some of the scenes are truly hilarious. It is worth the price of admission for your comedic role as a Japanese villager, Marlon. Paul Ford turns in a great performance as the hawkish Col. Wainwright Purdy III.

    Best Regards, Pimpin.

  • The Teahouse of the August Moon 1956 Daniel Mann dir. Vern J Sneider author and John Patrick playwright Starring Glen Ford, Marlon Brando.

    This film is the one most people will recall as the one that features Brando playing an oriental coolie. More specifically, he plays an Okinowan Interpreter who presents a tale of culture clash between the US occupational forces and the native Okinowans following WW2.

    Detractors will argue that the stage play was superior, and that Brando was miscast. They may or may not have validity, and most of us, including me, will never know. What we are left with however, remains one of my very favourite films. It's a very well conceived and intelligent comedy. If I were to level any criticism, it would be that the pacing is rather too quick. The laughs mostly come too thick and fast to digest, but at least repeat viewing pays off.

    As it was made in 1956, the style is also of its time, and this includes, to an extent, the humour too. I enjoy this as part of the experience. Making a 'period' film is a very different thing to making a contemporary one of its own time (or within 10 years anyway). In other words, this lends authenticity to the period in social terms, which is close to impossible to do by any other means.

    I estimate, I have watched 'TeaHouse' at least a dozen times over the last 20 years. The experience has never diminished in all that time. Marlon Brando commands attention every moment he is on screen, but its Glen Ford whose performance I most enjoy. I can't imagine any other actor doing full justice to the role of Capt. Fisbee after witnessing his performance. Yes, it is larger than life, but that's part of the style of the cinematic period. What counts is his delivery, his body language and the seamless alternation between bungling weakling, and sensitive intelligent humanitarian.

    Brando himself, is believable in his very demanding role. He doesn't pull it off perfectly. There are fine cracks in one or two places, but I think the job he did remains a credit to him. Few actors, other than Okinowan ones, could have done as much I suspect.
  • I hope I have remembered Sakini's almost immortal lines, "Love brings Pain, Pain makes man wise, and wisdom makes life endurable" If I have them wrong, please let me know. He is one of the greatest actors in my never very humble opinion, I read an article about famous limes in Movies and his comments were placed at second and third. "Make him an offer he could not refuse," and the one from On the Waterfront where he said "I coulda been a contender instead of a bum which is what I am". Marlon Brando has made me cry so often especially when in "Godfather" he reminded me of my Patriarchal Grand-daddy - Nonno, who was Italian. In "The Teahouse of the August Moon" I do not know if I shall ever stop smiling at the memory of his recension of Sakini, he was totally Brilliant, may he rest in peace. my spelling of coulda - has not been corrected, that was how He said it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've seen this several times and it loses nothing with re-viewing, as long as you don't overdo it, I guess. Basically it's a story of Glen Ford going native, seduced by Marlon Brando, Machiko Kyo, a horde of Okinawan villagers, with Eddie Albert as a closet hydroponicist who gets sucked in along the way.

    It has its weaker moments when it becomes a little cute, the way sitcoms are cute, and the ending is a feel-good addendum that tries to graft a happy ending onto an unhappy situation. The ending is less organic than Eddie Albert's vegetables.

    Marlon Brando -- well, he's not Japanese. He's too tall and too hefty, and the role was really beneath him. The guy at the time was a fantastic dramatic actor, not a comedian. Paul Ford as Colonel Purdy is fine. No one has expressed disbelief better while on the phone. Albert doesn't have to do much. But Glen Ford couldn't be improved upon as Captain Fisbe, the abject schlemiel who always flunks every test of wits that's thrown in his direction. I couldn't stop laughing at some of the scenes -- Kyo wrestling with Ford while she struggles to remove his clothing, and Colonel Purdy on the phone, asking him, "What are you doing about physical education?", as Ford flops gracelessly on the floor. Ford doing a fine imitation of having a manic episode when Albert visits him -- "This is my cricket cage," and then adding quickly, so as not to be misunderstood, "I haven't got my cricket yet."

    The script is full of yoks. Colonel Purdy demanding an explanation from Ford of exactly what he's been teaching the villagers. "Well, Colonel, you know, from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs, share and share alike --" Purdy: "That's COMMUNISM!"

    Alas it falls apart after the show at the opening of the teahouse. But that's nothing much, a wasted ten minutes. It's worth seeing, not only for the many successful gags but for Glen Ford's superb performance as well.
  • This is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is G-rated, and while some people might find a couple of mentioned subjects worth adding a P to G, I oppose the idea.

    1. Racism: The subject of racism is mentioned because the movie is essentially about American soldiers trying to change Asians into Americans; essentially, they emphasize difficulty in the Okinawans learning to speak English, but this does not--in my opinion--make fun of them.

    2. Prostitution: When a Geisha is brought into the village, it is suggested that she is a prostitute; however, the character Sakini does an excellent job of explaining that a Geisha is definitely NOT a prostitute, and does so keeping the explanation G-rated.

    3. Drunkeness: Let's face it, in this day and age, alcoholism is so common that mentioning it in a movie is blasé. No problem here.

    This is--in my opinion--one of the best comedies of the time, and definitely belongs in the genre of Family Film.
  • The Okinawans and for that matter the rest of the Ryukyu Island chain have seen it all before as Sakino remarks to Captain Fisby when he arrives at his assigned village to give them the conquering hero speech. Actually author John Patrick of The Teahouse of the August Moon knew what he was talking about. Over their history these people due to geography have been taken over time and again by the Chinese and Japanese going back and forth. Maybe American skin color was paler and the eyes didn't slant, but to the Okinawans it's just another occupier.

    That particular island cost plenty in the last great battle of the Pacific in World War II. The Japanese at this point considered the Ryukyus their homeland and fought dear for it. In part it led to the decision to use those atomic bombs to bring the war to a conclusion.

    The Teahouse of the August Moon was one of the biggest successes of the Broadway theater in the Fifties. It ran for 1053 performances from 1953 and 1955. It received the Tony Award for Best Play, Best Actor for David Wayne as Sakino, Best Writer for author John Patrick and a Pulitzer Prize for drama.

    Leads David Wayne and John Forsythe were dropped from the film version as MGM wanted film names and they signed Marlon Brando as Sakino and Glenn Ford as Captain Fisby. Both performed ably in their roles and rumor has it didn't get along. From Brando's point of view that might have been partly due to Louis Calhern's death on the set. Calhern and Brando apparently became close on the set and when Calhern died it unnerved Brando. It did allow the Paul Ford who had originated the role of Colonel Purdy on Broadway to repeat it for the screen and for the sake of the film I can't see how Calhern would have been better.

    To say that the occupation of Japan went a whole lot better than what's going on now in Iraq is an understatement. Of course it helped no end to have the Emperor telling his people not to resist. It also helped to have Douglas MacArthur in charge who spent his formative years in the Far East and knew the Orient well.

    Not everyone under MacArthur's command had his sensibilities and Paul Ford was one of those officers. He had a manual which as he so eloquently put it saves you the trouble of thinking. The problem Ford has is when Glenn Ford is assigned to his command. He's an officer who's had a problem adjusting to the army because he does think too much. But in occupation duty it serves him well as it turns out.

    Ford with Okinawan interpreter Marlon Brando is assigned to a small village where he throws away the plan because the villagers very democratically decide they have their own ideas. One of them is to build a teahouse for the geishas.

    It would take a lot of time and words to describe the importance in their culture of the teahouse. It's not merely a bordello and the geishas have a function that's not just sexual. Suffice it to say that Ford recognizes this and instead of a schoolhouse as per the manual, allows the Okinawans to build a teahouse.

    Marlon Brando's role functions in the play and also as a Greek chorus narrator. He did a good job, but in these days of political correctness his performance is now damned by political correctness. And irony of ironies he lived long enough to see it.

    Where does respect for tradition start and end? The British trampled on a lot of Indian traditions in their occupation. They also helped do away with a lot of barbarous practices like the strangling cults of thugee and that lovely custom of suttee where the widow is supposed to allow herself to be cremated live beside her dead husband. I'd say that was one positive result of their occupation. Certainly in Iraq and Afghanistan there are things in fundamentalist Moslem culture that are an abomination. But how to change it. Not apparently as we're going.

    The Teahouse of the August Moon is both entertaining and thought provoking and might have a timely message for today.
  • This film made me realize how much we've lost as a country since the 1950s. According to Wikipedia at least, the book, play, and film were enormously popular for about 25 years, when political correctness set in, and liberals were oh-so-terribly aghast at Marlon Brando playing an Okinawan with a heavy accent. But it's Brando's character who is the most admirable in the movie -- sharp, perceptive, and cunning, but also warm, generous, and forgiving.

    All told, it's the Okinawans who come off well -- it is we Americans who seem rather ridiculous, with our notions of winning hearts and minds and spreading democracy. Remember that this film was made just ten years after WWII, when we were up against the Soviet Union, and democracy and "the American way" were at the heart of what we thought we were all about. But here is a film that completely satirizes, if not ridicules, all that, and yet it was enormously popular.

    Perhaps I'm looking at it through rose-tinted lenses -- there may well have been the Michael Savages and Rush Limbaughs of the day who inveighed against the Hollywood liberals seeking to undermine American resolve in the face of the Soviet threat and disgracing the memory of those who had died in WWII.

    But I think, more accurately, it was a time of greater American self- confidence, when we were able to laugh at ourselves more easily, and weren't terrified that this, that or another group might be ticked off.

    In short, this is a wise movie that should be seen by all those in power who have anything to do with how we conduct ourselves toward other nations and peoples -- as well as anyone who wants to see an entertaining but also educational film.
  • threems3m11 August 2005
    I have seen this movie many times and I still love it and enjoy it to the full. The first time I watched the film, at the end on the credits I read Marlon Brando, I could not believe my eyes, who on earth was Marlon Brando on the film(I did not know at first he was on the credits), I realize them he was Sakiri the Japanese servant, to my taste, it is one of the best characters he has ever played, he speaks, walks, smiles and act like a real Japanese village guy. Also what a fantastic way to combine and confront two radical and different ways of thinking, the American way of life with the mystic way of the Asian people. Glen Ford also does a five star performance, specially when he had to drive his jeep with at least 10 unexpected passengers including a goat, also when he meets for the first time his geisha and she dress him up with a kimono, wooden Japanese sandals and straw hat. A lovely comedy for everyone to enjoy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this film when I was 17years old.Brando was King,Paul Ford was Colonel Hall in Sgt Bilko and I was at the Savoy,Brighton with Vivienne Wyman whose dad had a paper shop near the youth club.She had beautiful wavy black hair,a flawless complexion and I was the envy of the boys in the "Coffee Lounge".Life could not get any better.In retrospect not such an unlikely possibility.The war against Japan had only been over 12 years and the "Americanisation" of the rest of the world was on schedule . American largesse had kept Britain afloat both during and after the war;it was by now widespread throughout the "conquered" countries. The Japanese people had been redeemed through defeat and the Americans were prepared to be magnanimous in victory.Military Officers became advisors and democracy was shipped out in bulk whether it was wanted or not.No reasonable person could doubt their good intentions,but imposing an alien culture on the indigenous one is not a seamless process......and the "conquered" people may not be as conquered as you think..... That,in a nutshell,is the premise of "The Teahouse of the August Moon". The Americans poke gentle fun at themselves,Paul Ford does his good-natured bumbler schtick and Marlon Brando has great fun with those actor's friends the funny accent and make - up.There is some cod Japanese philosophy and the average American's ignorance of the rest of the world is lampooned. It was a time when in England we still spoke about "good Germans" (Rommel was a "good German" - Heydrich was not).By the same token,Sakini was a "good" Japanese man.We could not understand the Bushido code,therefore it was "bad".Sakini was cute looking and smiled a lot.You couldn't imagine him starving British P.O.W.s to death. At 17 I thought Brando's portrayal of a Japanese interpreter was brilliant and hilarious.Nearly fifty years later and I can't think of any other European/American actor who could have pulled it off. He was a young man at the height of his powers;rather like a juggler throwing more and more clubs into the air,there seemed to be nothing he could not do. Glenn Ford gets a rare chance to do comedy and reminds us of his versatility.Used to playing men with a past,here he plays a man without much future,at least not in the U.S.Army. Henry Morgan as usual makes every second of his screen time count.A major part in the long-running "M.A.S.H." was just reward for years of playing cops and noncoms in movies. It is pointless to call "The Teahouse of the August Moon" racist because the concept of racism as it exists now did not exist then.And by extension of course Marlon Brando must be racist - a quite ridiculous assertion. It is probably not a film for today;it may well be rediscovered in a more gentle age when the thought police are no longer trying to apply 21st century sensibilities on fifty year old movies. Strangely enough Vivienne didn't find it very funny - perhaps it was a bloke thing.I never got a date with her again.
  • smoss46926 May 2013
    I love Marlon Brando and I love comedy movies. The comedy in this movie has not aged well at all, in fact I would call it "tiring" in most scenes. The constant antics of the villagers actually get irritating as early as when the Captain is trying to get his jeep packed so he can leave the base. It didn't get better from there. Brando does a nice job playing the Japanese interpreter however; but since he's Brando that's to be expected. It was also interesting seeing a young Harry Morgan playing a military man decades before he did so on MASH.

    I'd avoid this one. I picked it up for $3 from Big Lots and I feel like I vastly overpaid.

    What a disappointment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SYNOPSIS: Captain Fisby (Glenn Ford) is sent by Colonel Purdy (Paul Ford) to an Okinawan village to aid its recovery and welfare. He is accompanied by an interpreter (Marlon Brando). Fisby is showered with gifts from the villagers. Amongst the gifts is a geisha girl (Machiko Kyo). (In pronouncing, render Japanese names as sharply and gutter-ally as possible. Thus: Marchy/core, with the word snapped off extra fast).

    NOTES: The stage play opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck on 15 October 1953 and ran a colossal 1,027 performances, making it one of the fifty most successful plays ever produced on Broadway. A long way from Fiddler On the Roof's 3,242 performances or Life With Father's 3,224, but a highly commendable achievement nonetheless. Adding spice to the success, the play was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (The judges were particularly finicky that year too, making no award at all for Fiction, though Charles Lindbergh took the Biography prize for his Spirit of St Louis). The play also won the New York Drama Critics' Award for Best Play of the Year. It was inevitable that it should spawn a film version, a musical — Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen (1970) — and even a surprisingly short-lived Broadway revival of a miserable 14 performances in November 1956 starring Gig Young.

    With a domestic film rentals gross of $5.7 million, "Teahouse" came in 6th at the U.S./Canadian box-office for 1957. The movie achieved exactly the same position in Australia, but in the U.K. failed to make the top ten list of money-spinners.

    COMMENT: A riot on the stage, but something less on the screen. The players try too hard, particularly Paul Ford, here recapping his stage role. (Louis Calhern was originally cast, but suffered a fatal heart attack whilst on location in Japan). Although Marlon Brando was a popular choice for Sakini, I would have preferred Broadway's David Wayne. Still Brando's portrait, viewed in 2016, doesn't seem quite as outrageous or ridiculous as it did 60 years ago.

    Robert Lewis directed the Broadway show. For the movie we're stuck with the considerably less talented Daniel Mann. Not only is his handling over-emphatic, he seems totally unable to judge when a jest is exhausted. A joke or comic situation, mild to begin with, is often elasticized way past boredom point. And though his training ground was the stage, Mann makes surprisingly little use of the width available to him on the CinemaScope screen. If this is an example of his method of staging with all the action crowded into the center, we wonder why he didn't face an actors' revolution. (Stage players are very fussy about "blocking". A director is continually forced to find all sorts of reasons, excuses and pretexts to string his actors out from one end of the stage to the other so that the audience has a good view of each performer).

    But stay with it, folks. Despite the initial lack of promise, things do improve when Eddie Albert (of all people) comes on. Often a rather dull yet too earnest actor, Albert gives here a wonderfully relaxed, thoroughly professional performance that even overwhelms the dead hand of Mann's tepid direction. Albert's enthusiasm even infects some of the other players. Paul Ford is occasionally amusing, despite all the exaggerated bluster, and Henry "Harry" Morgan briefly shines. Miss Kyo, however, remains stubbornly giggly, if attractively decorative, but little else. As for Glenn Ford in the John Forsythe role, well Glenn Ford in comedy mode is Glenn Ford in comedy mode, period.

    Although John Patrick himself penned the screenplay, on film Teahouse seems much less pointed, much less amusing than on stage or in print. Even Alton's grainy CinemaScope photography falls disappointingly short of his usual standards.

    SUMMING UP: The opening twenty minutes or so of "Teahouse of the August Moon" promise great things. An American Army officer (Glenn Ford) is sent to establish the recovery and welfare of an Okinawan village, with a rascally Japanese interpreter (Marlon Brando) as an assistant. Alas, great things do not happen. Brando is woefully miscast.
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