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Several years ago I stumbled upon a 35 cent biography of Humphrey
Bogart written shortly after his death. In it he comments on many of
his films, including Tokyo Joe. "Utterly worthless picture" he noted.
Many critics agree as they dismiss this piece of hokum about what
happens when a former soldier returns to what was his "home town"
before the war. Thing have changed. It is not the paradise it once was
to him and it is certainly no "Rick's" Instead of "As Time Goes By" we
hear "These Foolish Things," a better song but not nearly as famous.
Tokyo Joe was made not long after Bogey had left Warner Brothers and it
has more than a whiff of a "message picture" that strikes to find some
meaning in postwar Tokyo. But like "House Of Bamboo" this film works
not only as melodrama but as historical artifact of a period that is
now forgotten. We don't think of the Japanese as a defeated power. Ever
since the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry started blowing away
American competition we have thought of the Japanese as a superpower
economically, not as a crippled defeated country. This film captures a
mood that is rarely expressed in movies and it captures it with rather
high production values. The rest of the cast isn't much but they play
it straight and thus Tokyo Joe stands up even better after the initial
viewing. The DVD transfer is very good and it remains a worthy addition
to the Bogart canon.
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