Teahouse of the August Moon
Review by The Scarlet Manuka
Director: Daniel Mann
Rating: Super Star Destroyer
Genetically, I am Japanese, so I was all set to hate this film for Marlon Brando's casting as an Okinawan. I was astonished to find myself loving his performance; I feel he perfectly captured the sardonically innocent attitude of Sakini, and suddenly developed a huge respect for his acting talents.
Next, I started listening to the dialogue, and was amazed at its wittiness, intelligence, and perceptiveness. In fact, the title (The Teahouse of the August Moon) never remotely suggested "comedy" to me; I was expecting another dreary wartime American Soldier / Japanese Geisha tale.
Discovering this film to be among the best-written comedies in American Theatre history was the nicest shock I've had for a while. This is on a par with M.A.S.H. in its smart skewering of the American military mind. But more important to me was the film's debunking of oriental stereotypes. A handful of Okinawans prove, in the end, to be more intelligent, resourceful, realistic, and adaptable than the entire U.S. Government, simply by being themselves.
To all so-called "Asian Americans": get over your (understandable) objections to "yellowface" and watch this film. I do agree that putting Marlon Brando in Oriental makeup would be unforgivably racist now, but I accept the reality that that was how things were routinely done in 1950's American film and theatre. Look past the makeup and you'll discover an absolutely wonderful film.