Friday, December 30, 2005

September 24, 1945 archives

Excerpted from "The New Pictures"

First Yank Into Tokyo (RKO-Radio) might well be subtitled First Atomic Bomb Thriller Out of Hollywood. It was originally a stock B potboiler about a vague "superbomb," just ready to be picked off the RKO assembly line when news of the atomic bomb was announced. By snipping in a quick scene in a Washington office and pasting on the newsreel clip of the first practice explosion in New Mexico, RKO beats everyone else to the neighborhood houses.

The First Yank is Major Steve Ross (Tom Neal), an Army pilot who was raised in Japan and speaks the language without a trace of an accent. He is therefore drafted by Washington to rescue an American scientist (Marc Cramer) from a Jap prison camp. The captive scientist appears to be the only man who knows the whole formula for completing the atom bomb. The Major forthwith undergoes some heavy-handed plastic surgery to give him buck teeth, slant eyes and a puffy face which make him look less like a Jap than like a man with a chronic hangover. In the tick of a time fuse he is being smuggled into Japan by the Korean underground as Sergeant Tomo Takashima, a returning war hero. He gets a job in a prison hospital, where he finds his nuclear scientist. By a streak of dazzling luck he also finds that the hospital's head nurse is his old girl, Abby (Barbara Hale), an Army nurse who was captured on Bataan.

From this point on, it is high-octane cops & robbers, ending with a slam-bang fist fight and a breakneck chase as the Major, Abby and the scientist dash for the water's edge and a waiting British submarine. In a simple-minded way, it is good, fast fun.

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