Tokyo Joe DVD
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Directed by Stuart Heisler
Produced in 1949
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
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.
Format: DVD B&W
Released: 26th May 2008
Cat No: ORP002DVD