Tokyo Joe (1949)



Director:    .

Starring:    Humphrey Bogart (Joseph 'Joe' Barrett), Alexander Knox (Mark Landis), Florence Marly (Trina Pechinkov Landis), Sessue Hayakawa (Baron Kimura), Jerome Courtland (Danny), Gordon Jones (Idaho), Teru Shimada (Ito), Hideo Mori (Kanda), Charles Meredith (Gen. Ireton), Rhys Williams (Col. Dahlgren), Lora Lee Michel (Anya, Trina's daughter).

an American G.I. returns to post-war Tokyo to resume his business there of a bar and restaurant



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

Joe Barrett owned a bar and restaurant in Tokyo called Tokyo Joe's.  He fought in World War II against the Japanese, but now it's some years after the war and Joe comes back to pick up his life at Tokyo Joe's.  The Americans give him a hard time for coming back to Tokyo.  They only give him a visa for 60 days. 

Joe returns to his old bar and restaurant.  Joe had a Japanese partner in the the bar business.  He finds the man still there.

Going away to fight in WWII, Joe left behind his wife Trina.  Joes thinks she is dead, but his partner tells him that Trina is still alive.  Joe gets her address from the partner and heads to his wife's place.  The place is pretty swanky looking.  The last time Joe saw Trina was seven years ago.  Trina shows up but she has mixed emotions about seeing Joe. 

She tells him that she divorced him and remarried to a man named Landis.  Joe is crushed but insists he is going to get his wife back again.  Mr. Landis comes home and meets Joe.  He says he knows that Trina was his wife, but she divorced him.  He says Joe messed up her life pretty thoroughly.  So it's a show down between the men with Joe saying he will get his wife back.  He leaves the place.

Trina says that Mark must get rid of Joe, saying that Joe is dangerous.  She describes how deeply in love with Joe she was and she still has some feelings for him.

Joe goes to Baron Kimura for help staying beyond his 60-day visa.  Joe gets a job with the Baron, piloting freight to North and South America. 

Joe goes to see the captain to protest the terrible process of filling out multiple forms.  The captain is not very sympathetic to his desire to re-start his business.  Major Loomis doesn't think Joe will be successful in his business endeavor.

The Baron tells Joe that they can get the cooperation of one of the officials. 

Trina confesses the truth about her background.  In Japan she was in a prisoner of war camp.  In order to get out of that situation she worked for the Japanese broadcasting Japanese propaganda in English to the Americans and others.  She says she had her baby in prison.  They took her baby from her to force her to read propaganda.  She agreed to it.  Joe says he could destroy her husband with this information.  He doesn't realize that the girl child is his own child.  Trina calls for the girl.  It finally dawns on Joe that the girl is his.  Why didn't you tell me?  She didn't know she was pregnant at the time Joe walked out on her.   Her name is Anya and she is almost seven years old.  The girl asks Joe to come to her seventh birthday party.  Joe says he will try and make it to the party. 

Joe tries to get out of the deal with the baron, who tells him Joe has to stay in because the baron needs Joe in order to get the air-line.  Furthermore, Joe is forced to tell Landis about the treason of Mrs. Barrett to get Joe to help him with the air contract. Landis calls a general and gets Joe in with the air port.  He hires two Americans and a Japanese man who speaks English to be pilots for the baron.  . 

A C-60 plane is to be piloted by the new pilots.  Their cargo is "frozen frogs".   Joe's partner says the Baron is up to something shady and Joe must get out of the relationship with the Baron. 

Landis speaks with Trina.  She tells him that Joe is coming for the birthday party.  Landis tells her to let him come, but he himself can't attend.  Joe was going to just drop off the present he bought for Anya, but Anya sees him and runs to him asking him to stay.  Joe kisses Anya. 

The Baron demands that Joe fly cargo out for him.  They head for Seoul, Korea to pick up antique pottery.  They land successfully, but are not happy about carrying a stranger back to Japan.  The two American pilots are suspicious and asks for more money to take the stranger to Japan.

Landis makes a call to the American Colonel Dalton..  He has to go see the colonel.  Trina listens into the conversation on another phone.

Tomorrow Joe has to make the same run to Seoul and back. Trina rushes into his office to tell him that he is in trouble because of his flights.  Landis shows up.  They have to confess the whole situation to him.  Landis phones the military police.  Joe faces two officers who question him.  Joe is charged with conspiracy against the US and the people of Japan.  Lt. Gen. Takinoba and two war criminals were to be his next customers brought back from Korea. 

The Japanese pilot Joe hired turns out to be an American agent.  He gives whatever information he collects to the Americans. 

Baron shows up on the film.  A spy told him about Joe's movements.  He tells Joe that he has his daughter.  He wants Joe to stop to see him before he talks to the Americans.  They will meet at 1 a.m.

The Americans tell Joe to fly his plane to Hinata.  Then Joe is to set his passengers down in Okama

They arrive in Okama and the three war criminals are taken off the plane.  They puncture the gas tank of the plane and then ignite the gasoline.  The Japanese take off, but the Americans arrive and pick them up.

Americans beat up Joe trying to get him to tell them where Kimura is.  The Americans throw Joe into a cell.

The Americans set up a scam for the war criminal, but the man  dies when the drain pipe he is climbing collapses under his weight.  Joe was in on the scam.

Joe's partner is going to commit seppuku, traditional, ritual suicide.  Joe tells him that he is a sap for people like Kimura.  The Americans are not their enemies, but the Kimuras in the world of the Japanese want to keep the old ways of life and the old Japanese culture.  He gets the address where his daughter might being held.  Joe with some American soldiers go get his daughter. He overcomes the guard, who hears the sounds made by Joe.  Joe jumps on him and a fight begins.  Joe manages to kill the body guard. Kimura hears the news and shoots Joe in the back. The Americans shoot and kill Kimura.  Joe is wounded.  Trina hears the remark that Joe is is bad shape.  She goes over to him and tells Joe:  "You are coming back to me, yes."

Joes is taken away.  One assumes that he dies from his wounds. But then again, maybe he survives, marries Trina and with their daughter they live happily ever after.


Good movie.  Love that Bogart. The film show the rough times the everyday Japanese faces in a much ruined nation.  There is a lot of unemployment and hunger in the nation.  When Joes throws his cigarette to the ground the young Japanese quickly pounce on it.  And things are not going too well for the bar and restaurant known as Tokyo Joe's.  But Joe is determined to make a go of things.  Surprisingly, the Americans give Joe a hard time about building his business back up.  And they don't like checking over Joe's mountain of paper work that he has to fill out either.  In a poor Japan, the world of the gangster starts to pick up.  Joe runs afoul of one of these men and gets himself into a real mess.  Can Joe thrive again in Tokyo with all the problems he faces in post-war Japan?  Joe himself doesn't even know.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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