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ESCAPADE IN JAPAN (aka: TAKE MY HEART) (director: Arthur Lubin; screenwriter: Winston Miller; cinematographer: William Snyder; editor: Otto Ludwig; music: Max Steiner; cast: Teresa Wright (Mary Saunders), Cameron Mitchell (Dick Saunders), Jon Provost (Tony Saunders), Roger Nakagawa (Hiko), Philip Ober (Lt. Col. Hargrave), Kuniko Miyake (Michiko Tanaka), Susumu Fujita (Kei Tanaka), Katsuhiko Haida(Capt. Hibino), Clint Eastwood (Dumbo), Mila del Sol (Filipino stewardess); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Arthur Lubin; RKO; 1957)
Its artificial cuteness stings.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

B-film filmmaker Arthur Lubin (“New Orleans”/”White Savage”/”Francis Joins the WACS“)directs this forgettable low-budget family drama that never excites, but at least its location shots in Japan keep it exotic looking. It’s written by Winston Miller.If you don’t blink, you’ll catch Clint Eastwood as an American pilot named Dumbo.

Tony Saunders (Jon Provost) is a seven-year-old who is put on a plane in Manilla by his Aunt Laura and he travels alone to Tokyo to meet his American diplomatic attach√© father Richard Saunders (Cameron Mitchell), newly stationed in Tokyo, and his mother Mary (Teresa Wright). Unfortunately the plane develops engine trouble and crashes in the fog covered sea, off the coast of Japan. Tony is rescued while floating unconscious on a raft some fifteen hours later by Japanese fisherman Kei Tanaka (Susumu Fujita) and his wife Michiko (Kuniko Miyake). He’s nursed back to health and is befriended by their son Hiko (Roger Nakagawa). When they reach the Tanakas’ small village, Hiko overhears his parents discussing that the police are coming over and wrongly assumes that Tony is in trouble. The same aged kids decide to run away together.

The contrived premise was hardly convincing, which made it impossible for me to get into the rest of the story.

The American couple go to the village and soon bond with the non-English speaking Japanese parents, both concerned about their runaway boys.

We follow the boys as they trek to Tokyo by hopping aboard a truck, then they sneak onto a train. They get off in Kyoto and visit temples and the marketplace. They avoid the police by running into a burlesque theater and that evening find themselves in a geisha house. Afterwards they are fed and sheltered by a farmer for the night. There are several more escapes from the police, until the boys are rescued by Tony’s dad on a slanted pagoda roof before they fall.

In true soap opera style, Tony’s parents who were contemplating a divorce now vow to remain a united family and all ends well. We also get a lecture on tolerance and about how people from different countries and of different races have so much in common.

Its artificial cuteness stings.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”