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 heQuote
...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 theQuote
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:-Quote
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