Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Teahouse of the August Moon

I am still thinking about a good New Year's Eve movie to recommend, but The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956) came to mind for some reason.  It has nothing at all to do with the holiday, but it's a good movie, and any holiday is reason enough to watch a good movie.

Marlon Brando (1924 - 2004) was given top billing, and he did a stellar, out-of-character job with the part.  It is said that many people complained to the theater managers when the movie came out because they thought Brando wasn't in it.  In fact he has major screen time throughout the movie, but he is playing a Japanese character.

The other three stars, Paul Ford (1901 - 1976), Glenn Ford (1916 - 2006), and Eddie Albert (1906 - 2005) are all at their best, working together with Brando.  None of them stands out over the others, but Glenn Ford and Eddie Albert work particularly well together. 

If you haven't seen the film, it is about the American occupation of Japan after WWII, and a team in Okinawa who are supposed to teach democracy.  Glenn Ford is sent to a small village and instructed to build a school house (pentagon shaped).  When he appears to be cracking up, his superior (Paul Ford) sends in Eddie Albert, a psychologist, to see what can be done.  They are both taken in by the villagers, and comedy ensues.

Most of the bit parts are played by Asians, and they are mostly unknown here, although many have extensive acting credits.  Harry Morgan (b. 1915) played a sergeant, and he was already a star.  I have always like Harry, ever since I can remember, probably starting with "Dragnet."  He is 95 years old now, and I wish him well.

The only other Bit Actor worth talking about is Harry Harvey, Jr. (1929 - 1978).  Son of Harry Harvey (1901 - 1985), Harry Jr. was in 89 roles, compared to dad's 419 titles. 

Junior's first movie was Tell Your Children (1936), which was re-released as Reefer Madness.  He went on to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) starring Danny Kaye, and in 1956 he appears in Forbidden Planet with Robbie the Robot (b. 1955).  Then a bunch of TV guest work.

That was fun!  Now go see The Teahouse of the August Moon and I am sure you'll agree.  If you still need a suggestion for New Year's Eve, please see this New Year's post at MovieFanFare.  That's a great blog, too.


  1. Harry Morgan is still alive! I wish him well, too - great bit part actor...
    In Marlon Brando's autobiography he told an amusing story about Glenn Ford who he thought "took scene stealing to Olympian heights" on TEAHOUSE. Eventually, when Glenn's trickery seemed it wouldn't end, Marlon fought back with a few tricks of his own.

  2. I can see that Glenn would try to steal a scene. But look at the competition. I bet Brando came right back.

    I thought that Glenn was a bit to enthusiastic in this comedy role. He seemed to stutter a lot. In his dramatic roles he can be very stern, perhaps forceful. It just shows what he was capable of doing. Watch him in Cowboy (1958), a drama where Jack Lemmon gets the comic relief role.

  3. Interesting you mentioned the stuttering, Allen, so did Marlon Brando! Considered it one of Glenn's flagrant "tricks"...
    Brando had loved the play on Broadway, saw it several times - David Wayne had played his part and John Forsythe played Capt. Fisby. I suspect Brando might've wished Forsythe had done the fim...

  4. You may have to forgive Brando for stuttering thru a Japanese accent! I thought he was amazing as Sukini. It always sounds like Paul Ford is calling him zucchini. Maybe that was intentional by the writers.

    I can see John Forsythe as Capt. Fisby. He could pull that off.

    Brando shouldn't have taken all that so seriously, though. IT'S A COMEDY! I think his ego was always getting in the way.


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