This beautifully photographed and often moving story of racial prejudice features Marlon Brando as Lloyd Gruver, an Army major reassigned to a Japanese air base in the midst of the Korean conflict. In Japan, Gruver sees the US military's racism against the Japanese, which goes so far as to
forbid servicemen from marrying Japanese women. Although at first indifferent to the situation, Gruver is forced to take a stand when his buddy Joe Kelly (Red Buttons) falls in love with a local woman, Katsumi (Miyoshi Umeki), and becomes determined to marry her, going over the heads of the
military high command and petitioning Congress for permission. Sticking by his comrade, Gruver risks the wrath of his superiors when he agrees to be Kelly's best man at the ceremony. What's more, Gruver himself falls in love with a beautiful Japanese dancer, Hana-ogi (Miiko Taka), and finds
himself in the same predicament as Kelly. SAYONARA is a sensitive work, sparing neither Americans nor Japanese in condemning prejudice. This updating of the "Madame Butterfly" theme is a powerful, well-told story, with a statement on racism that remains timeless. It was certainly topical: when
filming began, in 1956, more than 10,000 American servicemen had defied extant regulations and married Japanese women (as the novel's author, James A. Michener, had done earlier). The film received 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture (it lost to THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI), Best
Director, Best Actor (Brando lost to Alec Guinness for RIVER KWAI), Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, and Best Editing. Oscars went to the film for Sound, Art Direction, and Set Decoration, as well as to Buttons and Umeki for their supporting performances.
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