Blood on the Sun


1h 38m 1945

Brief Synopsis

An American reporter in Tokyo fights to report honestly on Japan's growing militarism before World War II.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Release Date
Jan 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Jun 1945
Production Company
Cagney Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,432ft

Synopsis

In 1929, in Tokyo, Nick Condon, the editor of the English-language newspaper Tokyo Chronicle , reports that Japan's prime minister, Baron Giichi Tanaka, has authored a document called the "Tanaka Plan," which, among other things, advocates the military conquest of America. Concerned by the report, Capt. Oshima of the Tokyo police and Kajioka, the chief of the Secret Police, question Nick, who insists that he picked up the story over the news wires. In private, however, Nick admits to his publisher, Arthur Bickett, that he wrote the piece based on rumors. Later, in an American bar, Nick meets reporter Ollie Miller and is surprised to discover that he has a roll of cash and is sailing for America that night. Ollie refuses to tell Nick who paid him the money, but advises him to leave Japan as soon as possible. Later, when Nick arrives at the dock to say goodbye to Ollie and his wife Edith, he is accosted by Oshima and Kajioka and then finds Edith strangled to death in her cabin. Nick spots a woman lurking around the cabin and chases her, but she escapes. Nick then heads for his house, having learned from friend Charley Sprague that Ollie is looking for him there. As soon as he arrives, Nick hears gunshots and discovers a fatally wounded Ollie. Before dying, Ollie entrusts Nick with the Tanaka document, which the Chinese government had paid him to smuggle out of Japan. Hearing knocks at his door, Nick hides the document behind a portrait of Emperor Hirohito, and when Oshima and his men burst into the room to search for the plan, they avoid the portrait out of respect. Nick then uses his newly acquired judo skills to escape the police, but Oshima finally knocks him out. After spending the night in jail, Nick is released, but discovers that all evidence of Ollie's murder as well as the document have been removed from his house. Hayashi of the Foreign Office then takes Nick to Tanaka's home, where unknown to Nick, Tanaka has been meeting with the woman from the boat, the half-Chinese, half-European Iris Hilliard. While insisting that the Millers are alive, Tanaka, Kajioka and Col. Tojo of the Japanese Army advise Nick to return the document, which they maintain is a forgery. Nick balks at the suggestion and later asks Charley to write an item announcing his departure for America in ten days. At the bar, Nick, who is being followed by secret police agent Hijikata, is introduced to Iris by Joe Cassell, a reporter who until recently was stationed in China. Nick is attracted to Iris and begins to romance her. Although Nick reveals little about his situation, Iris reports to Tanaka that she is sure he has the document. Iris then asks Nick what he knows about the document, but he feigns ignorance. When Nick hears that Bickett, under pressure from the Japanese government, is replacing him with Joe, he writes a column denouncing Joe for embezzling funds raised in America for Chinese refugees. Disgraced, Joe begs help from Tojo, for whom he has been secretly working, but Tojo refuses him. Filled with remorse, Joe then offers to smuggle the document out for Nick, but Nick turns him down. After Joe reveals that he set him up with Iris, Nick storms over to Iris' apartment and accuses her of trying to frame him as a spy in order to force him to give up the document. Unaware that Oshima has planted listening devices in her place, Iris, who has fallen in love with Nick, confesses to him that she has the document, having taken it from his house while he was in jail. Although Iris assures Nick that she can obtain verification of its authenticity from a witness to the document's signing, she is confronted by Tanaka soon after Nick leaves. Tanaka gives Iris two hours to reveal the witness' name, and when the deadline passes, he orders Tojo and fellow officer Yamamoto to execute her. Having failed in his mission, Tanaka then commits hara-kiri. A week later, Nick, who is about to sail for America, is alerted by embassy official Johnny Clarke that a warrant for his arrest has been sworn out. Having gotten a message from Iris asking him to meet her at a shack on the wharf, Nick arranges to rendezvous with Johnny in one hour and heads for the wharf. Iris, who managed to escape her apartment, has brought Prince Tatsugi, the witness, to the shack to sign the document in front of Nick. Although Tatsugi knows that he will be killed as a traitor, he signs the document, saying that Tanaka's militarism will destroy Japan. After Tatsugi leaves, Iris and Nick prepare to flee Japan in a fishing boat. Before they take off, Oshima, who has shot Tatsugi, starts breaking down the door to the shack. Nick sends Iris on with the document, then challenges Oshima to hand-to-hand combat. After Nick beats Oshima unconscious, he eludes Hijikata and rushes to the U.S. Embassy. As he approaches the building, he is shot by snipers on orders from Yamada, who searches in vain for the document. Having heard the shots, Johnny runs out of the Embassy and informs Yamada and Kajioka that the U.S. government will be investigating the incident. Although Yamada suggests that they "forget everything" and "forgive," Nick, wounded but alive, vows to "first get even."

Film Details

Genre
Drama
War
Release Date
Jan 1945
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Jun 1945
Production Company
Cagney Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,432ft

Award Wins

Best Art Direction

1945

Articles

Blood on the Sun - James Cagney in BLOOD ON THE SUN on DVD


For years Blood on the Sun (1945), a James Cagney suspense thriller set in pre-World War II Japan, has been subjected to one indignity after another. After falling into public domain, prints of the film have been turning up in poor 16mm and 35mm dupes, making it virtually impossible to see Blood on the Sun as it was originally intended. To make matters worse, a colorized version was distributed on television and numerous VHS bootlegs versions of bad to awful quality have been released into the marketplace. But good things come to those who wait and James Cagney fans will be happy to know that Hal Roach Studios have recently licensed a DVD version of Blood on the Sun to Image Entertainment. The film has been digitally mastered from the original nitrate camera negative and kudos go to Image for post-producing, manufacturing, and releasing it. This new DVD release is easily the best version of Blood on the Sun currently available. Although there is some very minor image deterioration resulting in random incidents of speckling, scratches, and audio hiss, the print quality is uniformly sharp and clean. As for DVD collectors spoiled by all the recent extras on this format, don't expect any supplementary material because there isn't any. Besides the nine chapter breaks, the box art features two different versions of the original poster for the film. The cover art is particularly garish and perfectly captures the melodramatic quality of the film.

For those of you who are not familiar with Blood on the Sun, it was made during a lull in Cagney's career. Sandwiched between Johnny Come Lately (1943) and 13 Rue Madeleine (1946), Blood on the Sun is clearly a product of its era. Produced by James' brother, William, and directed by Frank Lloyd, the film attempts to demonstrate in dramatic terms how the Japanese "Co-Prosperity Sphere" came into direct conflict with the U.S. and accelerated the war in the Pacific. James Cagney plays an American reporter based in pre-war Japan who is given a purloined copy of the top secret Japanese document by another newspaper reporter (Wallace Ford) for safekeeping. The Japanese know Ford has uncovered their secret and are willing to perform any act - including murder - to prevent their true intentions from being revealed.

To say that Blood on the Sun is jingoistic, flag-waving melodrama is to state the obvious. It also happens to be a fast-paced, entertaining B-movie with an energetic performance by Cagney (wait till you see him dispatch his Japanese opponents with some well-timed Judo moves - or is that a stunt man?) and plenty of campy extras like Sylvia Sydney as an exotic Japanese spy with a secret racial heritage or the Far Eastern-themed score by Miklos Rosza or the supporting cast of mostly American actors like Robert Armstrong (of King Kong fame) and Marvin Miller (from the TV series, The Millionaire), costumed and made-up as Asian villains. Cagney fans will definitely want to check it out and so will anyone else who is the least bit curious about Hollywood's take on Japan during World War II. We can only hope that the other public domain releases being offered by Image Entertainment and licensed through Hal Roach Studios such as Dave Fleischer's animated feature, Gulliver's Travels (1939) or Laurel and Hardy in The Flying Deuces (1939), or Barbara Stanwyck in the film noir favorite, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), are just as handsomely presented as their Blood on the Sun release. For more information on the titles carried by Image Entertainment, visit their web site at Image

Blood On The Sun - James Cagney In Blood On The Sun On Dvd

Blood on the Sun - James Cagney in BLOOD ON THE SUN on DVD

For years Blood on the Sun (1945), a James Cagney suspense thriller set in pre-World War II Japan, has been subjected to one indignity after another. After falling into public domain, prints of the film have been turning up in poor 16mm and 35mm dupes, making it virtually impossible to see Blood on the Sun as it was originally intended. To make matters worse, a colorized version was distributed on television and numerous VHS bootlegs versions of bad to awful quality have been released into the marketplace. But good things come to those who wait and James Cagney fans will be happy to know that Hal Roach Studios have recently licensed a DVD version of Blood on the Sun to Image Entertainment. The film has been digitally mastered from the original nitrate camera negative and kudos go to Image for post-producing, manufacturing, and releasing it. This new DVD release is easily the best version of Blood on the Sun currently available. Although there is some very minor image deterioration resulting in random incidents of speckling, scratches, and audio hiss, the print quality is uniformly sharp and clean. As for DVD collectors spoiled by all the recent extras on this format, don't expect any supplementary material because there isn't any. Besides the nine chapter breaks, the box art features two different versions of the original poster for the film. The cover art is particularly garish and perfectly captures the melodramatic quality of the film. For those of you who are not familiar with Blood on the Sun, it was made during a lull in Cagney's career. Sandwiched between Johnny Come Lately (1943) and 13 Rue Madeleine (1946), Blood on the Sun is clearly a product of its era. Produced by James' brother, William, and directed by Frank Lloyd, the film attempts to demonstrate in dramatic terms how the Japanese "Co-Prosperity Sphere" came into direct conflict with the U.S. and accelerated the war in the Pacific. James Cagney plays an American reporter based in pre-war Japan who is given a purloined copy of the top secret Japanese document by another newspaper reporter (Wallace Ford) for safekeeping. The Japanese know Ford has uncovered their secret and are willing to perform any act - including murder - to prevent their true intentions from being revealed. To say that Blood on the Sun is jingoistic, flag-waving melodrama is to state the obvious. It also happens to be a fast-paced, entertaining B-movie with an energetic performance by Cagney (wait till you see him dispatch his Japanese opponents with some well-timed Judo moves - or is that a stunt man?) and plenty of campy extras like Sylvia Sydney as an exotic Japanese spy with a secret racial heritage or the Far Eastern-themed score by Miklos Rosza or the supporting cast of mostly American actors like Robert Armstrong (of King Kong fame) and Marvin Miller (from the TV series, The Millionaire), costumed and made-up as Asian villains. Cagney fans will definitely want to check it out and so will anyone else who is the least bit curious about Hollywood's take on Japan during World War II. We can only hope that the other public domain releases being offered by Image Entertainment and licensed through Hal Roach Studios such as Dave Fleischer's animated feature, Gulliver's Travels (1939) or Laurel and Hardy in The Flying Deuces (1939), or Barbara Stanwyck in the film noir favorite, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), are just as handsomely presented as their Blood on the Sun release. For more information on the titles carried by Image Entertainment, visit their web site at Image

Blood on the Sun


Set during the late 1920s, Blood on the Sun (1945) stars James Cagney as Nick Condon, editor of an English-language newspaper in 1920s Tokyo. He discovers a Japanese military plan to conquer China, the United States and the world - the "Tanaka Plan." With the help of beautiful Chinese-American spy Iris Hilliard (Sylvia Sidney), Condon steals the plan and tries to take it out of the country and reveal it to the world, all the while being pursued by Japanese authorities.

The story is based on fact. The Tanaka Plan was a real document stolen in 1927 and exposed in the international press, originally by a Chinese newspaper. (Japan dismissed it as a forgery, and no one else did anything about it.) The facts end there, however, as Blood on the Sun is mainly an action-packed Cagney vehicle which earned over $1 million profit at the box office and received decent notices. "As melodrama," wrote Time, "it is as hard, tidy and enjoyable as the work of its star James Cagney, the dean of the sort of movie in which action and good sense collaborate instead of colliding. He cannot even put a telephone receiver back on its hook without giving the action special spark and life." The New Yorker emphasized the action, declaring wryly, "it is the most violent workout Mr. Cagney has had since [The] Public Enemy [1931], and it ought to be fine for those who admire a good, ninety-minute massacre."

The fight scenes in Blood on the Sun all involve judo. Cagney trained in the art extensively and even kept it up in his private life, writing in his memoirs, "I grew so fond of judo I used to keep in shape with it until a back injury I picked up doing something else put me on the sidelines." Cagney's judo instructor was a former L.A. cop named John Halloran, who in the film has a small role as Japanese "Captain Oshima." (In a sign of the paranoia of wartime America, Halloran resigned from the LAPD after the police commission sent FBI agents to investigate him because his favorite sport was judo.)

Blood on the Sun was the second picture that James Cagney and his brother William produced under their new independent production company. William had been an assistant producer at Warner Brothers as part of James's contract, and the brothers had been given great creative freedom on Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) by Jack Warner and Hal Wallis because the studio wanted them to remain there when the contract expired. Ironically, their positive experience as independent producers encouraged the Cagney brothers to branch out on their own. They formed Cagney Productions with financing by a New York bank and with a distribution deal at United Artists, and excitedly started looking for projects that would move James away from gangster pictures in the vein of The Public Enemy, just the type of movies Warners would have continued forcing him to do.

Sylvia Sidney had been a consistent screen presence in the 1930s in pictures like Fury (1936) and You Only Live Once (1937), but her film appearances grew more sporadic in the 1940s as she concentrated increasingly on the stage. There was a four-year gap between Blood on the Sun and her previous film, The Wagons Roll at Night (1941), and her reappearance was noted approvingly by Variety: "Miss Sidney, back after a too-long hiatus from Hollywood, is gowned gorgeously and photographs ditto."

Speaking of Sidney's gowns, Cagney later recalled an amusing story from this film. "One day Sylvia was making a costume test before the camera, and I watched her as she turned around, looking as elegant as any Shinto princess and twice as lovely. Now, Sylvia is Jewish, and I with my affection for Yiddish can't resist the opportunity to use it when I can. To tease her, from behind the camera I said, 'Zee gigt aus vi a Chinkeh!' ('She looks like a Chinese lady!') Without stopping her pirouette before the camera, she said, 'Fa vus nit?' ('Why not?') It is some accomplishment to be talented, beautiful and funny."

Blood on the Sun won the Academy Award for Best Black and White Art Direction. Keep an eye out in particular for the scenes in Tokyo's Imperial Hotel bar. The set is an exact replica of the real bar, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Producer: William Cagney
Director: Frank Lloyd
Screenplay: Lester Cole, Nathaniel Curtis, Garrett Fort (story)
Cinematography: Theodor Sparkuhl
Film Editing: Walter Hannemann, Truman K. Wood
Art Direction: Wiard Ihnen
Music: Miklos Rozsa
Cast: James Cagney (Nick Condon), Sylvia Sidney (Iris Hilliard), Porter Hall (Arthur Bickett), John Emery (Premier Tanaka), Robert Armstrong (Col. Hideki Tojo), Wallace Ford (Ollie Miller).
BW-94m.

by Jeremy Arnold

Blood on the Sun

Set during the late 1920s, Blood on the Sun (1945) stars James Cagney as Nick Condon, editor of an English-language newspaper in 1920s Tokyo. He discovers a Japanese military plan to conquer China, the United States and the world - the "Tanaka Plan." With the help of beautiful Chinese-American spy Iris Hilliard (Sylvia Sidney), Condon steals the plan and tries to take it out of the country and reveal it to the world, all the while being pursued by Japanese authorities. The story is based on fact. The Tanaka Plan was a real document stolen in 1927 and exposed in the international press, originally by a Chinese newspaper. (Japan dismissed it as a forgery, and no one else did anything about it.) The facts end there, however, as Blood on the Sun is mainly an action-packed Cagney vehicle which earned over $1 million profit at the box office and received decent notices. "As melodrama," wrote Time, "it is as hard, tidy and enjoyable as the work of its star James Cagney, the dean of the sort of movie in which action and good sense collaborate instead of colliding. He cannot even put a telephone receiver back on its hook without giving the action special spark and life." The New Yorker emphasized the action, declaring wryly, "it is the most violent workout Mr. Cagney has had since [The] Public Enemy [1931], and it ought to be fine for those who admire a good, ninety-minute massacre." The fight scenes in Blood on the Sun all involve judo. Cagney trained in the art extensively and even kept it up in his private life, writing in his memoirs, "I grew so fond of judo I used to keep in shape with it until a back injury I picked up doing something else put me on the sidelines." Cagney's judo instructor was a former L.A. cop named John Halloran, who in the film has a small role as Japanese "Captain Oshima." (In a sign of the paranoia of wartime America, Halloran resigned from the LAPD after the police commission sent FBI agents to investigate him because his favorite sport was judo.) Blood on the Sun was the second picture that James Cagney and his brother William produced under their new independent production company. William had been an assistant producer at Warner Brothers as part of James's contract, and the brothers had been given great creative freedom on Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) by Jack Warner and Hal Wallis because the studio wanted them to remain there when the contract expired. Ironically, their positive experience as independent producers encouraged the Cagney brothers to branch out on their own. They formed Cagney Productions with financing by a New York bank and with a distribution deal at United Artists, and excitedly started looking for projects that would move James away from gangster pictures in the vein of The Public Enemy, just the type of movies Warners would have continued forcing him to do. Sylvia Sidney had been a consistent screen presence in the 1930s in pictures like Fury (1936) and You Only Live Once (1937), but her film appearances grew more sporadic in the 1940s as she concentrated increasingly on the stage. There was a four-year gap between Blood on the Sun and her previous film, The Wagons Roll at Night (1941), and her reappearance was noted approvingly by Variety: "Miss Sidney, back after a too-long hiatus from Hollywood, is gowned gorgeously and photographs ditto." Speaking of Sidney's gowns, Cagney later recalled an amusing story from this film. "One day Sylvia was making a costume test before the camera, and I watched her as she turned around, looking as elegant as any Shinto princess and twice as lovely. Now, Sylvia is Jewish, and I with my affection for Yiddish can't resist the opportunity to use it when I can. To tease her, from behind the camera I said, 'Zee gigt aus vi a Chinkeh!' ('She looks like a Chinese lady!') Without stopping her pirouette before the camera, she said, 'Fa vus nit?' ('Why not?') It is some accomplishment to be talented, beautiful and funny." Blood on the Sun won the Academy Award for Best Black and White Art Direction. Keep an eye out in particular for the scenes in Tokyo's Imperial Hotel bar. The set is an exact replica of the real bar, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Producer: William Cagney Director: Frank Lloyd Screenplay: Lester Cole, Nathaniel Curtis, Garrett Fort (story) Cinematography: Theodor Sparkuhl Film Editing: Walter Hannemann, Truman K. Wood Art Direction: Wiard Ihnen Music: Miklos Rozsa Cast: James Cagney (Nick Condon), Sylvia Sidney (Iris Hilliard), Porter Hall (Arthur Bickett), John Emery (Premier Tanaka), Robert Armstrong (Col. Hideki Tojo), Wallace Ford (Ollie Miller). BW-94m. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Japanese women aren't allowed to think. It's against the law.
- Iris Hilliard

Trivia

Notes

The film's opening credits include the following written foreword: "While the entire world watched the early success of the German "Mein Kampf," few were aware of the existence of an oriental Hitler...Baron Giichi Tanaka. His plan of world conquest depended upon secrecy for success. This story deals with its first exposure by an American newspaperman in Tokyo." Giichi Tanaka, a general and statesmen, became known in the 1920s as the mastermind of Japanese expansionism. In 1925, after serving as minister of war, he was made head of the Seiyukai party and became prime minister in 1927. In 1929, he was forced to resign because of his inability to control army extremists, and died the same year. According to a June 1945 Life magazine article, the Tanaka Plan, or Tanaka Memorial, which outlined Japan's conquest of Manchukuo, China, reportedly was written by Tanaka and presented to Emperor Hirohito in 1927. When the plan was published in China, Tanaka denounced it as a forgery. As noted by the New York Times review, the highly debated plan was not exposed by an American journalist, as depicted in the film.
       According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, in May 1944, producer William Cagney approached Orson Welles about appearing in the picture. In July 1944, Hollywood Reporter announced that Welles had been cast in the role of "Tanaka." Hollywood Reporter announced in August 1944 that Ann Dvorak was set to play "Iris." Blood on the Sun marked Sylvia Sidney's first screen appearance since the 1941 film The Wagons Roll at Night (see below). According to a Hollywood Citizen-News article, John Halloran, who plays "Oshima" in the picture, was James Cagney's judo instructor. Halloran, a former policeman, resigned from the Los Angeles Police Department after the police commission sent FBI agents to investigate him because his favorite sport was judo, according to Hollywood Citizen-News. Although Gee Wee and Tom Herbert are listed as cast members in Hollywood Reporter, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hollywood Reporter notes that the bar depicted in the picture was an "exact replica" of Tokyo's Imperial Hotel bar designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. According to modern sources, Blood on the Sun did not do well at the box office and did not help revive James Cagney's flagging career. The film won an Academy Award in the Art Direction (Black-and-White) category. Herts-Lion reissued Blood on the Sun in 1963, according to Film Daily. Cagney and Sidney reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre production, broadcast on December 3, 1945.