THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON (1956) C widescreen 123m dir: Daniel Mann
w/Marlon Brando, Glenn Ford, Machiko Kyo, Eddie Albert, Paul Ford, Jun Negami, Nijiko Kiyokawa, Mitsuko Sawamura, Harry Morgan, Shichizo Takeda
From The Movie Guide: "This charming adaptation of the novel and play [John Patrick adapted his own play and the novel by Vern J. Sneider for the screen.] shows that Brando had a flair for comedy. In a prologue, Okinawan Brando introduces himself and the other players and asserts with pride that Okinawa has the honor of being the most subjugated place in history. It has been overrun by the Chinese and the Japanese and, now, the US. Glenn Ford, an American officer, is charged with bringing 'civilization' to a small village. With Brando as his official interpreter, Glenn Ford is supposed to start a women's club, build a schoolhouse, and establish democracy according to the plan sent out from Washington. The villagers, however, have other plans: what they desire most is a teahouse with plenty of geisha girls.
"Paul Ford, a befuddled colonel, had played the same role on Broadway more than 1,000 times and yet managed to bring a freshness to it for the screen. He was later to do the same kind of role on TV's 'You'll Never Get Rich' when he played Sgt. Bilko's (Phil Silvers) commanding officer. Kyo spoke no English when she accepted the role. She had previously been seen in GATE OF HELL and RASHOMON. The music was mostly Okinawan and Japanese, and that lent authenticity to the affair. Although David Wayne was a marvel in the play (which won the Tony as Best Play that year), he was not a movie star, so when Brando indicated he wanted the part, he got it. Brando does one of his best roles here, submerging his own powerful personality. He spent months learning how to move like an Asian. Some of the humor is labored, and Glenn ford overplays a bit, but the ultimate result is a charming, though somewhat talky, movie that elevates whimsy to a new high."