4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A Gulliver in Lilliput,
This review is from: The Barbarian And The Geisha [DVD] (DVD)
John Wayne has managed to star in a few of cinemas very odd films. He has starred as Genghis Khan in "The Conqueror" and the centurion in "The Greatest Story ever told" and here as an American Consul General in 1850s Japan. Judging by the times Wayne has thrown bad guys through saloon windows, diplomacy is not his gift in films. He is a giant who strides about like Gulliver in Lilliput. Bizarrely we see him downed by a Japanese midget and indulging in some Japanese style dancing. It can be said categorically he is no dancer. All very unintentionally funny.
"The Barbarian and the Geisha" directed by John Huston is based on the true story of Townsend Harris as Americas first Consul General to Japan at a time they were still ruled by a Shogun and were hostile to all foreigners. He actually fell in love with a 17 year old Geisha girl who committed suicide later in life. Harris had to fight Cholera epidemics and the enmity of a people steeped in old traditions. It has the makings of a good story, so what went wrong?
Aside from the odd casting this was not the film Huston envisioned. His vision was a very Japanese styled film heavy on photography, pacing, colour and narration. But due to studio editing what emerged was something completely different. Huston immediately denounced it and wanted his name removed. Shades of what was to come with Sam Peckinpah and "Major Dundee". But his name, perhaps unfairly remained.
So what do we have left. Well in all honestly a fragmented oddity. Perhaps if Huston had had his way it would have been a much better film. As it is there are some pretty scenes filmed in Kyoto and at the Todai-Ji shrine in Nara, but little else aside from Waynes comedic moments. It is so odd it may one day like the Japanese Godzilla movies, attain some sort of cult status. It is worth a good 3 stars in my book on that basis alone. You may find it amusing like me.