The Barbarian And The Geisha

1958, Movie, NR, 105 mins


Truth may be stranger than fiction, but as the screenplay for THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA demonstrated, it can also be duller. President Franklin Pierce sends US Consul Townsend Harris (John Wayne) to Japan to negotiate a series of treaties, both diplomatic and commercial. The Japanese have no interest in talking to the man, and he is treated rudely. He is told to leave but refuses and moves into a rat-infested house with three Chinese servants and Jaffe, his interpreter. The governor, Yamamura, introduces Ando into the Harris residence as a servant, but she is really there to spy on the Americans. She soon learns that Wayne is a good man and she falls in love with him. The rest of the movie is fanciful conjecture in many places, with hara-kiri, a broken love affair, a successful end to the mission, etc. The movie is more like a history lesson than an entertainment. Not that the history isn't exciting, it's just written and shot in a passionless fashion, most unusual from the director who gave us THE MALTESE FALCON, among other great films. leave a comment

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