Red Buttons

Sayonara (1957)

Sayonara 1957

During the Korean War, many American servicemen stationed in Japan are falling in love with and marrying Japanese women. Although some soldiers are open-minded about interracial relationships, many are not and unfortunately, many of the ones who don’t approve are the ones who hold the most power. When top Air Force pilot Major Lloyd Gruver (Marlon Brando) is first sent to Japan, he’s among the ones who doesn’t approve. However, his friends Joe Kelly (Red Buttons) and Captain Bailey (James Garner) do pursue relationships with Japanese women. Joe is in love with Katsumi (Miyoshi Umeki) and wants to marry her, but has to get special permission from his congressman to do so because the military is making it so difficult for soldiers to get married.

Gruver’s views on interracial relationships suddenly change when he sees Hana-Ogi (Miiko Taka) and is immediately captivated by her. While Gruver is dedicated to the military, Hana-Ogi is dedicated to Matsubayashi, an all-female theater troupe. Just like the military forbids Gruver from dating Japanese women, the Matsubayashi forbids Hana-Ogi from dating. Gruver tries to pursue Hana-Ogi anyway and she resists at first, but she eventually agrees to meet with him at Joe and Katsumi’s home.

Hana-Ogi and Gruver continue to see each other, doing their best to keep their relationship a secret. Of course, it doesn’t stay a secret for long and when the Matsubayashi finds out, they send Hana-Ogi to Tokyo as a punishment. And the military continues to discourage interracial relationships by ordering all servicemen with Japanese wives back to America and won’t allow them to take their wives with them. Even though Gruver and Hana-Ogi were never married, Gruver is also sent back to America. Before he leaves, he stops in Tokyo to see Hana-Ogi one more time and make a last-ditch effort to see if their relationship will work.

Sayonara is one of those movies that was acclaimed when it first came out, but over the years, it hasn’t been talked about as much. For being a Best Picture nominee and featuring a Best Actor nominated performance from Marlon Brando, I’m not sure why I haven’t heard of it until now. But Sayonara is indeed still very much worth watching; it’s still a very relevant film. It’s a little too slowly paced for my liking, but the beautiful cinematography and good acting make it worth sticking around for. Red Buttons is someone I usually associate with comedy, so his more serious, gentle yet completely heartfelt performance here was a real revelation for me.

A Ticklish Affair (1963)

A Ticklish Affair PosterWidow Amy Martin (Shirley Jones) is a devoted mother to three young boys, Grover (Peter Robbins), Alex (Bill Mumy), and Luke (Bryan Russell).  One day, her boys, playing with a blinker light given to them by their Uncle Simon (Red Buttons), send a distress signal to the nearby Naval base.  Commander Key Weedon (Gig Young) is sent to investigate, finds nothing wrong, and even helps Amy with a few things around the house.

The kids adore Key and Amy is attracted to him, but she hasn’t dated since her husband’s death and she knows what comes with being involved with a Navy man.  She’s trying to create a stable environment for her children and doesn’t want to be moving them all over the place.  But with encouragement from her children and her sister-in-law Tandy (Carolyn Jones), she starts seeing Key.  All is going well until the inevitable happens and Key receives orders to go to Italy.  He wants to take marry Amy and bring her and the kids to Italy, but she refuses to move.

Amy’s kids like to play a game with their Uncle Simon called “moon walking.”  Simon attaches the kids to large helium filled balloons and holds on to them with a tether so it’s like walking on the moon.  But while moon walking one day, Grover’s tether snaps and he goes floating over the San Diego area and guess who is able to save him?  Of course it’s Key! Key rescues Grover and Amy is so thrilled that she decides she wants a life with Key after all.

A Ticklish Affair is a cute, wholesome little movie, but ultimately it’s nothing to write home about. Very predictable, but it’s likeable and pleasant enough to sit through.  It’s one of those good Sunday afternoon movies or something to watch if you’re watching a movie with young children.  One thing I really do love about A Ticklish Affair is its poster, which is absolutely adorable and whimsical.