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Samurai

Samurai(1945)

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The working title of this film was Orders from Tokyo. Although fictional, the film is narrated and presented in the style of a documentary. Onscreen credits include a 1944 copyright statement, but the film is not listed in copyright records. Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library provides the following information about the production: After reading an initial script, the PCA wrote to producer Ben Mindenburg on November 10, 1943 that the sequence in which "General [Sujiyama] and Ken indulge in sadism with the Chinese and White girl" was unacceptable, and that it was "imperative that it be omitted or changed....Furthermore, we recommend that you consult the War Department as to a recent directive they have issued prohibiting any scenes of Japanese atrocities and brutality." According to a plot synopsis in the file, the phone call "Ken" receives informing him of the "zero hour," just before he kills his parents, is a decoy by the "Secret Service" to trick Ken into action. This is not clear in the film, however. The synopsis also includes a scene after "Ken" murders his parents in which "Frank" returns to the studio, and "Ken innocently tells Frank that the folks left for home. Frank does not believe Ken...finds both dead. There is a fight between Ken and Frank, with Ken being the victor, as he tries to choke Frank...[who] is left for dead." This scene was not included in the viewed print.
       On June 12, 1944, the PCA wrote the following to Mindenburg after viewing an eight-reel rough cut of the film: "The principal objections to the material received by us were...[a] scene suggesting the rape of a White girl by the leading Japanese villain. It was explained to Mr. Mindenburg that this scene was completely unacceptable....There were numerous scenes, from newsreels, dealing with the bombing of Shanghai, etc., which contained unacceptably gruesome scenes of dead bodies. It was pointed out to Mr. Mindenburg that these should be deleted when the film is reedited." The PCA also viewed "a two-reel Technicolor film of the San Francisco Exposition, with Japanese narration, parts of which [Mindenburg] intends to cut into the picture." While a contemporary credits sheet lists the film's footage as 6,760 ft., the PCA listed the film's length as 5,812 ft., and included the following addendum: "[I]ssued with the understanding that the dialogue in connection with the prison scene, the scene and sounds of attempted rape, and also the scene of actual Hara Kiri, are eliminated from all release prints."
       This film includes what appears to be newsreel footage of the September 1, 1923 earthquake in Tokyo. The The Exhibitor reviewer commented that Samurai is "a very poor, dated film," but suggested using ad lines such as "The True Secret About Jap Fraternization with White Women" and "At Last! The True Story of Jap Activities in America" to promote the film.