Tokyo Joe View large image

Film Details

Directed by: Stuart Heisler

Produced: 1949

Countries & Regions: United States

DVD Details

Certificate: PG

Studio: Orbit

Format: DVD

Region: Region 2

Released: 6 October 2008

Cat No: ORP002DVD

Languages(s): English
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Tokyo Joe

Cast: Humphrey Bogart , Alexander Knox , Florence Marly , Sessue Hayakawa , Jerome Courtland , Teru Shimada , Gordon Jones , Charles Meredith , Hideo Mori

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Drama starring Humphrey Bogart as Joe Barrett, an American who returns to Tokyo three years after the Second World War and attempts to... Read More


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Drama starring Humphrey Bogart as Joe Barrett, an American who returns to Tokyo three years after the Second World War and attempts to pick up threads of his life in the city before the war. He hopes to return to his bar, Tokyo Joe’s, and his wife Trina (Florence Marly), with whom he has a seven-year-old daughter - but circumstances have changed greatly since he left and he runs into troubles of both a personal and a political nature as he struggles to straighten things out.

The shooting’s over and Joe Barrett (Bogart) is out of uniform, keen to pick up where he left off before the war intervened. For him, that means flying back to Tokyo to reclaim the night club he was obliged to abandon after Pearl Harbor. What he doesn’t know is that the US military are taking a keen interest in his return – and that’s the least of his worries. The wife he’s been grieving for during the war years is not only still alive but the proud mother of Joe’s child. Trouble is, she’s happily remarried and in no mood to look back. When Joe starts doing business with some shady customers, it’s only a matter of time before things start getting messy.

Long-term Bogie watchers will find none of this terribly surprising. Indeed, it plays like a remix of two of his greatest hits: there’s an exotic international love triangle (cf Casablanca) and there’s a smuggling plot not unlike the one in To Have and Have Not. This, of course, is a big part of the attraction. Once again, Bogie gets into scrapes that allow him to act all cool and insouciant; surely that’s what we want when he’s in the frame – after all, no-one has ever done it better

And if the film does echo his earlier achievements, it also adds to them. Joe Barrett is a more flawed character than many of the actor’s other parts; it’s an interesting variation on that well-known persona, one that stops the film from ever becoming too familiar. It’s a handsomely mounted production, albeit one that perhaps can’t be recommended to those in search of a documentary about life in post-war Japan. Still, at least the filmmakers recruited authentically Japanese actors to play significant supporting roles, an unfortunately rare occasion in Hollywood at the time.

Director Stuart Heisler keeps things rolling along at a brisk pace, delivers a rip-roaring climax and never gets in the way of Bogie doing what he does best. It might not be our hero’s finest hour but it shows why so many of us love the guy.

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