The Barbarian And The Geisha (1958)

There are 125 replies in this Thread which has previously been viewed 106,637 times. The latest Post () was by lasbugas.

Participate now!

Don’t have an account yet? Register yourself now and be a part of our community!


    20th.CENTURY FOX

    Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas


    Plot Summary
    Townsend Harris is sent by President Pierce to Japan
    to serve as the first U.S. Consul-General to that country.
    Harris discovers enormous hostility to foreigners, as well as the love of a young geisha.
    Summary written by Jim Beaver

    Full Cast
    John Wayne .... Townsend Harris
    Eiko Ando .... Okichi
    Sam Jaffe .... Henry Heusken
    Sô Yamamura .... Governor Tamura
    Kodaya Ichikawa .... Daimyo (uncredited)
    Tokujiro Iketaniuchi .... Harusha (uncredited)
    Fuji Kasai .... Lord Hotta (uncredited)
    Takeshi Kumagai .... Chamberlain (uncredited)
    Morita .... Prime Minister (uncredited)
    James Robbins .... Lt. Fisher (uncredited)
    Norman Thomson .... Captain Edmunds (uncredited)
    Hiroshi Yamato .... The Shogun (uncredited)

    Writing Credits
    Nigel Balchin uncredited
    James Edward Grant uncredited
    Charles Grayson
    Alfred Hayes uncredited
    Ellis St. Joseph story

    Original Music
    Hugo Friedhofer

    Charles G. Clarke

    Chuck Roberson .... stunts (uncredited)

    Based on the true story of American diplomat Townsend Harris, his time in Japan in the 1850s and 60s, and his romance with a 17-year-old geisha named Kichi. Their story is one of the most well-known folk tales in Japan. The real Harris died in New York in 1878, and the real Kichi committed suicide in Shimoda in 1892.

    Average Shot Length = ~10.5 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~9.7 seconds.

    Director Anthony Mann owned the rights to this story, but sold it to Fox after being unable to sign a big enough star to play the lead.

    John Huston later dismissed this film, claiming that the final version, re-cut by the studio, didn't resemble his vision at all and that he would've liked to have his name removed from the credits. Stylistically, Huston wanted to make it a particularly Japanese film in terms of photography, pacing, color and narration. According to him, only bits of this attempt were still intact and visible in the theatrical version.

    While making The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958), John Wayne apparently became so enraged with director John Huston (who was something of a tough guy himself and was nearly as tall as Wayne, but not as massive) that he throttled and punched him out. It is unknown what Huston did to earn the beating, but the director was known to have a mean streak. Wayne later re-enacted the incident for Peter Bogdanovich, who was somewhat terrified to be used as a substitute for Huston.

    Incorrectly regarded as goofs: At one point, Townsend calls to his Chinese servant Sam; this was not, as some thought, a mistaken reference to an actor's real name.

    Filming Locations
    20th Century Fox Studios - 10201 Pico Blvd., Century City, Los Angeles, California, USA
    Eiga Film Studios, Tokyo, Japan
    Kawana, Japan
    Kyoto, Japan

    Watch this Trailer



    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 10 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • Well, as they say, a strange old film this one!!
    I enjoy, the film, and it's very entertaining.

    Duke looked oddly out of place as Townsend Harrison,
    and from the look of it, he thought so too.


    Duke tried hard, but the film ended up being a mess,
    mainly because Duke and John Huston, got to dislike one another, in a big way!

    Chuck Roberson said,


    I liked Huston well enough, but the guy drove Duke up a pagoda,
    the way he hemmed and hawed, over directing a scene.

    Duke later was calling Huston a liar, and said,


    Actors were like figures on a Japenese screen to him;they were just things in the foreground...
    I found it impossible to make any contact at all.

    Things got bad to worse, and a good picture ended up as a bad picture,
    with Duke, much to the fury of Huston, re-editing the final prints.

    Huston said


    By the time the studios, had finished hacking up the picture to Duke's instructions...
    it was a complete mess.

    Well there's one User Review below I tend to agree, about the entertainment value.
    However, critics pointed out, that as I mentioned before,
    Duke looked bewildered in the movie, but many found it lovely to watch, with beautiful sets and costumes.
    To sum up,The NYTimes said,


    Single shots, of exquisite beauty, and incredible delicay of hues

    Duke said,


    Don't talk to me, about that Japenese thing

    There you go, beat that!!!

    User Review


    Author: Sycotron from California, USA.from IMDb

    Not an action packed John Wayne adventure but enjoyable for it's own merits.*
    Those merits include an interesting look at Japan circa 1856 and how the arrival of non-Japanese were looked on with fear and loathing.
    There are some odd directorial dead spots such as when Wayne as Townsend Harris is told he cannot fly the American flag. The Duke agrees to take it down but gives a speech stating that he will fly the flag at certain times. The scene trails off somewhat anti-climactically despite seemingly leading up to a dramatic confrontation.
    On the whole I found the film entertaining and worth viewing.

    Best Wishes
    London- England

    Edited 6 times, last by ethanedwards ().

  • The Mrs. doesn't remember ever seeing this, but I know I have. In any case, we don't own it.

    It doesn't seem to be available on DVD anywhere (I can't understand why :lol: ), but Amazon has it on VHS, from independent sellers (no free shipping - boo hoo!).

    Chester :newyear:

  • Hi Popul,
    Thanks for the info,
    hey I've just noticed you've got cheeky monkey, on your avatar setting,
    this wouldn't be in reference, to what I called you, not long ago????

    Best Wishes,

    Best Wishes
    London- England

  • It wouldn't? Yes it would. I put that in straight away. :)

  • Duke did not want to talk about this Film, and part of that was because He was still upset with the Japanese over WW-2 and the many problems that He had with Huston in the making of the Film. :angry:

    Because I had spent a lot of time in Japan in the 1960s and the 1970s and became very interested in the way that Old Japanese lived I like to watch the Film when I can. :)

    But when I want to see Duke at His Best I will watch a Good John Wayne Shoot-Um-Up Western or one of His Flying Films every time!!! :D

    Chilibill :cowboy:

  • Popol Vuh,

    I, too, enjoy many of the non-western and non-military roles, just because they are different. I haven't seen this one yet, but am very interested. The premise of the story sounds very intriguing to me.

    You lucky dudes, getting it in DVD in region 2!

    But I guess many of you outside region 1 feel that way many times about releases over here, huh? :rolleyes:

    Mrs. C :angel1:

  • Hi Mrs. C

    It seems like a lot do, but I'm not one of them. This is easily solved with a multi-region DVD-player. Then you can order the movies from anywhere. I still say if you want them bad enough you can get them.

    Popol Vuh

  • Hi

    On another thread (Dukes stinkers) there is a lot said about The Barbarian and the Geisha and John Wayne's relationship with director John Huston.

    The film originally to be called the Townsend Harris story was supposed to be Hustons attempt at recreating the stunning visual grandeur of the 1954 Japanese picture 'Gate of hell'. In his words he


    ...wanted to send Duke's gigantic form into this exotic world that was the Japanese empire of the 18oos' ...Imagine this massive figure with his bluff innocense and naivete, with his rough edges, moving among these minute people. Who better to symbolize the big, awkward United States of 100 years ago?

    Though certainly inspired (Wayne) is visually perfect and quite effective in the atypical role, the choice proved to be a diastrous mistake in terms of audience response. Seeing Waynes name in the credits, filmgoers expected the film to be full of thundering excitement, which the Barbarian and the Geisha is definately not. For this and other reasons perhaps the film was not a box offce success.

    Other things that made the film unpopular with Huston was that halfway through the making of the picture and without his knowledge the title was changed to he Barbarian And The Geisha. Huston hated the change.

    He also failed to convince John Wayne about the way he wanted the film made concentrating on conveying over to the public the gentleness of Japan in soft pastel shades.

    Wayne used to the


    shoot it and printing styles of directors like John Ford, John Farrow and others, felt Hustons pace was too slow and his attention to visual details, which Wayne considered irrevlevent, to be almost an obsession. He later termed Huston's directoral reputation as 'overated'. For his part, huston simply admits that between him and the late star there was just ...'no great meeting of minds.

    In his book An Open Book Hustons states:-


    The Barbarian and the Geisha turned out to be a bad picture, but it was a good picture before it became a bad picture. I've made pictures that were not good for which I was responsible but this was not one of them. When I brought it to Hollywood, the picture including the music, was finished, as far as I was concerned. It was a senisitive well balanced work. I turned it over to the studio and hurried on to Africa to work on the Roots of Heaven... John Wayne apparently took over after I left. He pulled a lot of weight at Fox so the studio went along with his demands for chages. ....when finally saw it I was aghast. A number of scenes had been reshot simply because he didn't like the way he looked in te original version. by the time the studio finished hacking up the picture according to Wayne's instructions, it was a complete mess.

    This was the second time that such a thing had happened to Huston, as his dream project the Red Badge of Courage was also subjected to massive cuts and changes.

    Huston joined a small group of prestigious ditrectors who included Cecil B deMille and Don Siegal who only worked with him on one ccasion



    Walk Tall - Talk Low

  • It would be very interesting to see the original version that Huston wanted and then to compare this with the version that Duke editied.

    Thanks for that post Arther it was very interesting.



  • I've said this several times but it bears repeating. This is a favorite with me, if for no other reason because the Duke plays against type. Furthermore, I thought he did an excellent job. And during the movie, I detected no signs that he was uncomfortable with either the role or direction.

    I spent a considerable amount of time in Japan during the Fifties and found the Japanese people to my liking. They were (and may still be, for all I know) some of the cleanest and most industrious humans I've ever met. (And as a lusty young sailor back then, I especially liked the Japanese gals :jump: They were among the most feminine and anxious to please of any females I've ever met. I've heard, or read, that Japanese women are raised from birth to please a man, and I can well believe it. Of course, they may have caught that feminist disease by now.)

    It's funny but during WW2, I was taught to hate the Japanese, just as I was the Germans. Since the, I've learned that much of that teaching was pure propaganda.

    De gustibus non est disputandum

  • Quote

    Originally posted by Stumpy@Sep 13 2006, 11:49 PM
    I've said this several times but it bears repeating. This is a favorite with me, if for no other reason because the Duke plays against type. Furthermore, I thought he did an excellent job. And during the movie, I detected no signs that he was uncomfortable with either the role or direction.

    And I'll agree with you every time. I don't understand why so many people seem to dislike it. Sometimes I like a movie and I know that most people will hate it, but not this one. Every time someone starts to point out the weaknesses of this film I seem to just disagree with them.

    Popol Vuh

  • I just recently caught this film on the FOX Movie Channel, where it was broadcast in widescreen, and 2-track stereo. I must admit, the film is 10 times better, when shown in it's original format. For years, I had to suffer thru the pan-and-scan blurry version available on VHS. What a difference in viewing enjoyment!

    As for the film, I rather enjoyed it. It did have moments of not being edited too well, but there are some incredibly good scenes:

    1) Townsend Harris pleading with the sick sailors not to swim to shore, and also trying to make the Japanese people understand the danger.

    2) Townsend Harris burning down the village in an attempt to stop the sickness inflicting the people.

    3) The fight between Harris and two bullies, who have grabbed Henry's hat and cane.

    4) The archery show, where one of the lords is assassinated.

    5) And lastly, the assassination attempt on Harris, where Okicha pretends to be him, to save him.

    Many enjoyable moments from this film. If you've only seen it in the over-scanned version out on VHS, your doing yourself a disservice. Certainly be wonderful if FOX sees to releasing the Region 1 DVD soon!

  • Interesting review falc04.

    Its one of the movies I have never seen of JW. It would be interesting to watch on TV if it appears but from what I have seen and read on it I dont think I would speculate on buying it on DVD.


  • I always enjoy this film, because of the scenes of old japan, the kago carriers, the samurai, the samisen players during the special banquet for Harris. One reason that I have read why Duke did not like working on it was because Sam Jaffe had been blacklisted as a result of the HUAC trials earlier. Although he was a benign liberal in his views, Wayne did not care for him.

    Those who wish to read a very good book about life in Shogun Japan should read Oliver Statler's "Japanese Inn". It available through Amazon. It is about the life of Japan as seen from the 1600's through the 1950's by the inhabitants of a second class inn called the "Minaguchi-ya" that sat along the Tokaido Road that ran between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. Statler also wrote a book about the real Townsend Harris and his story in Japan, unfortunately I don't know the title.

  • Statler also wrote a book about the real Townsend Harris and his story in Japan, unfortunately I don't know the title.

    I think the book you're talking about is "Shimoda Story", dukefan.

    You sound like a person who's also spent some time in Japan. I was there in the Fifties with the Navy and fell in love with the place.

    De gustibus non est disputandum