Sayonara [1957]

Based on a novel by James Michener, Sayonara earned a fistful of Oscar® nominations (including Best Picture, Director, and Actor) in 1957 and wound up winning statuettes for supporting actors Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki. Marlon Brando plays a Korean War fighter pilot, the son of a general, reassigned to Japan, where fraternization with local women is taboo. After breaking off his engagement to another general's daughter, he finds himself falling for a Japanese entertainer (Miiko Taka), then struggling with his own bias. Subplots deal with other servicemen (played by Buttons and James Garner) who also fall for Japanese women. Directed by Joshua Logan from a script by Paul Osborn, the film takes a then-daring look at prejudice as well as post-war racial bias against the Japanese. Brando's Southern accent makes him sound like Matthew McConaughey, while Buttons is actually touching as tough, tender American struggling against racism. --Marshall Fine

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