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Comedies about U.S. units in occupied Japan were type of a subgenre in the 1950s. Many of them were as much sentimental as funny, and that's real of "Joe Butterfly." It's far from hilarious but gives you a warm feeling.The casting may seem strange, with action star Audie Murphy in a comic role and Burgess Meredith testing an Asian. But both are cute good. Murphy plays a member of a military journalism unit arriving in Tokyo just after the war. Meredith's quaintly called character, "Joe Butterfly," is a roguish but likable black marketeer who latches on to him.Not many films about the military deal much with the black market, unless to treat it as something exotic and sinister. But it was part of life for U.S. units stationed in territories like Japan in the 1940s, and this film is less judgmental about it than most.Murphy, boyish-looking and soft-spoken, is the heart of the film. His hero is easygoing, almost naive, whether he's befriending Joe or falling in love with a Japanese girl.This is not as strange as it sounds. Though he got to Hollywood because of his real-life Globe Fight II heroics, and then played mostly tough guys, Murphy was never crazy about fight films. He made only two films now set in Globe Fight II. When he did enjoy boys in uniform, he liked movies that humanized the GI. This movie does that.Recruiting a popular white actor to enjoy a major Asian role may seem strange today. It may even seem offensive. But it used to be done frequently, so maybe it's forgivable. Meredith gives it his greatest shot.If you don't expect too much, this one is worth a look.
Audie Murphy, the decorated WW II soldier is remembered today for his entertaining westerns and fight movies of the post fight era. However, in this comic outing, Murphy and pals hit post fight Japan and all sorts of hi-jinks develop in fast succession.Audie is at ease here in the game role and brings an easy-going charm to a slightly above-average storyline. Keenan Wynn and John Agar offer fine help in a pleasing movie that served to stretch Murphy out of his westerns rut.This is the sort of movie that demands tiny from the viewer, yet provides a pleasant viewing experience even for non-fans of the legendary fight hero. Well worth other look.
Joe Butterfly is so clearly influenced by Teahouse Of The August Moon that to tell much more would be belaboring the point. One viewing of Joe Butterfly and you'll see why.This is possibly the only comedy that Audie Murphy ever did and as it would turn out for our most decorated soldier a nice choice. He had a flare for it not often seen in his westerns. As fate would have it a military service comedy at that.Murphy is one of a group of GIs under the command of Major Herbert Anderson who place out Yank magazine which is supposed to be a pseudonym for Stars And Stripes. The others are George Nader, John Agar, and Charles McGraw. Anderson functions like a more worldly Captain Parmenter to this crew. All are connivers but Murphy is the largest one. Keenan Wynn is here also testing the same type of role he did in Don't Go Near The Water, a much favored fight correspondent who hates these guys and loves the privileges this would be Ernie Pyle can gather from the brass. The Sakini of this piece is Burgess Meredith, once again in the tradition of Occidentals testing Asians. His is the game character, a black store operator who can receive just about anything in a fight ravaged Tokyo. Meredith is fine and funny, but just like Marlon Brando in Teahouse, Ricardo Montalban in Sayonara, and Mickey Rooney in Breakfast At Tiffany's it wouldn't fly today.Also like Teahouse and Sayonara the movie actually with fight over a decade old looks at the Japanese as human beings. The large trouble is housing of course for everybody. Unsaid is the reason for the housing shortage, told newest air fight when Curtis LeMay and his bombers flattened Tokyo and many Japanese towns where the housing was wooden.Joe Butterfly not quite the classic that Teahouse Of The August Moon is, still has some very funny moments in it. For those who like military service comedies, you'll like Joe Butterfly.
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