original movie poster
|Directed by||Joshua Logan|
|Produced by||William Goetz|
|Written by||James Michener (novel)
|Editing by||Arthur P. Schmidt
Philip W. Anderson
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release date(s)||December 5, 1957|
|Running time||147 minutes|
|Box office||$22,000,115 (in U.S.)|
The film's screenplay was adapted by Paul Osborn from the novel by James Michener, and was produced by William Goetz and directed by Joshua Logan. Unlike most 1950s romantic dramas, Sayonara deals squarely with racism and prejudice. The supporting cast also features Patricia Owens, James Garner, Martha Scott, and Ricardo Montalban.
Lloyd "Ace" Gruver (Brando), a major and the son of a U.S. Army general, is stationed at Itami Air Force Base (now Osaka International Airport) near Kobe, Japan. He falls in love with a Japanese entertainer, Hana-ogi, who is a performer for a Takarazuka-like theater company, whom he meets through his enlisted crew chief, Airman Joe Kelly (Buttons).
Kelly is about to wed a Japanese woman, Katsumi (Umeki), in spite of the disapproval of the United States military, which will not recognize the marriage. The Air Force, including Gruver, is against the marriage. Gruver and Kelly have an argument during which Gruver uses a racial slur to describe Kelly's fiancee. Gruver eventually apologizes, then agrees to be Kelly's best man at the wedding.
Kelly suffers further prejudice at the hands of a particularly nasty colonel, pulling extra duty and all the less attractive assignments. When he and many others who are married to Japanese are ordered back to the States, Kelly realizes he will not be able to take his wife, who is now pregnant.
Finding no other way to be together, Kelly and Katsumi commit double suicide. This strengthens Major Gruver's resolve to marry his own Japanese lover. When asked by a Stars and Stripes reporter what will he say to the "big brass" as well as to the Japanese, neither of which will be particularly happy, Major Gruver says, "Tell 'em we said 'sayonara'" - the Japanese word for "goodbye" or "farewell".
The ending in the movie differs from that of the book, in which Gruver says "sayonara" to his Japanese girlfriend and returns to the States.
- Marlon Brando - Maj. Lloyd "Ace" Gruver, USAF
- Patricia Owens - Eileen Webster
- James Garner - Capt. Mike Bailey, USMC
- Martha Scott - Mrs. Webster
- Miiko Taka - Hana-ogi
- Miyoshi Umeki - Katsumi Kelly
- Red Buttons - Airman Joe Kelly
- Kent Smith - Lt. Gen. Mark Webster
- Reiko Kuba - Fumiko
- Soo Yong - Teruko
- Ricardo Montalban - Nakamura
Brando adopted a nondescript Southern accent for Gruver, despite the objections of director Logan, who did not think a Southern accent was appropriate for a general's son who was educated at West Point. Logan later admitted to the author and journalist Truman Capote about Brando, "I’ve never worked with such an exciting, inventive actor. So pliable. He takes direction beautifully, and yet he always has something to add. He’s made up this Southern accent for the part; I never would have thought of it myself, but, well, it’s exactly right — it’s perfection.”
Critical reception 
Sayonara has received widespread critical acclaim, particularly for its writing and cinematography, in addition to the acting ability of its cast. It won four Academy Awards, including acting honors for co-stars Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 100% critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.2/10.
The film earned $10.5 million in rentals in North America.
Alongside the less successful Japanese War Bride and The Teahouse of the August Moon, Sayonara was argued by some scholars to have increased racial tolerance in the United States by openly discussing interracial marriages. Other scholars have argued that the movie is one in a long list stereotyping Asian American women as "lotus blossom, geisha girl, china doll, or Suzie Wong" by presenting Asian women as "passive, sexually compliant and easy to seduce" or as downright prostitutes.
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Red Buttons)
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Miyoshi Umeki)
- Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (Ted Haworth & Robert Priestley)
- Best Sound (George Groves)
It was also nominated for
- Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando)
- Best Cinematography (Ellsworth Fredericks)
- Best Director (Joshua Logan)
- Best Film Editing (Arthur P. Schmidt & Philip W. Anderson)
- Best Picture (William Goetz)
- Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Paul Osborn)
- Shales, Tom (July 14, 2006). "The Bright Appeal of Red Buttons". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
- Capote, Truman (2008), Portraits and Observations, New York: Modern Library, p. 191
- "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- Sarah Kovner (2012). Occupying Power: Sex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan. Stanford University Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 978-0-8047-8346-0.
- Edith Wen-Chu Chen (2010). Encyclopedia of Asian American Issues Today. ABC-CLIO. pp. 644–645. ISBN 978-0-313-34751-1.
- "The 30th Academy Awards (1958) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- "NY Times: Sayonara". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
- Sayonara at the Internet Movie Database
- Sayonara at AllRovi
- Sayonara at the TCM Movie Database
- Sayonara at Rotten Tomatoes
- Trailer of Sayonara introduced by Miika Taka
- The Duke and His Domain by Truman Capote
- James Garner Interview on the Charlie Rose Show
- James Garner interview at Archive of American Television - (c/o Google Video) - March 17, 1999
From Here to Eternity
|Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress||Succeeded by
West Side Story