Before World War II, American Joe Barrett (Humphrey Bogart) adopted Tokyo as his hometown. He ran a gambling joint called Tokyo Joe’s and was married to Trina (Florence Marly), but when the war broke out, he fought with the Americans. After the war, Joe returns to Tokyo to re-open his club and believes that Trina died during the war. Joe isn’t able to re-open his club, but it is now being run by his friend Ito (Teru Shimada).
But more importantly, he finds out Trina is still alive. However, she is now married to Mark Landis (Alexander Knox), an American lawyer. Joe also discovers he has a seven-year-old daughter, Anya. Determined to win Trina back, Joe starts looking for ways to stay in Tokyo after his visitor’s visa expires and decides to apply for an airline franchise.
Applying for an airline franchise can be very time consuming, so Joe soon finds himself partnering with gangster Baron Kimura (Sessue Hayakawa), who is able to speed up the process. Naturally, Kimura doesn’t plan to use the airline for legitimate purposes and Joe ends up being trapped in a plot to smuggle war criminals into Tokyo and when Kimura begins to have his doubts about Joe, Anya’s life is put on the line.
Tokyo Joe isn’t a bad movie, there just isn’t a whole lot of substance to the story. The performances are respectable and the storyline is decent, but it wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to get very invested in it. It hops from one plot point to the next without giving me enough of a reason to be very interested in the characters or what happens to them. I would never call Tokyo Joe one of Bogart’s best movies, but since I’m a big fan of his, I’m glad I saw it at least once.