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Jason in Eugene, OR

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About Jason in Eugene, OR

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  1. Jason in Eugene, OR

    Bridge On The River Kwai

    Late to the party on this, but I just listened to the unspooling of Bridge on the River Kwai. Since Amy mentioned Sessue Hayakawa and his importance to early silent film, they might be interested to know that a film on the list which they discussed a few weeks back, Yankee Doodle Dandy, also has a connection to Asian American film history. That film's cinematographer is James Wong Howe, the first Asian American Oscar winner (nominated 10 times, won twice). It will warm Amy's heart to know that while making the film he became close friends with, who else, James Cagney. Cagney wore an "I Am Chinese" button to show his solidarity with Howe and other Chinese Americans during a time of intense Anti-Japanese sentiment and internment. All that said, if I had my choice I'd happily take Bridge on the River Kwai *and* Yankee Doodle Dandy off the list and put on instead Josef von Sternberg's Shanghai Express (I'd also toss a 1933 Busby Berkeley film on for good measure too). As progressive as it is problematic, there are so, so, so many things worth discussing about this film. Not only does it have (uncredited) documentary footage from Howe spliced into it, but it also features iconic performances from Anna May Wong and Marlene Dietrich. One more thing: that "Shanghai 'Lil" segment from Footlight Parade they played in the Yankee Doodle Dandy episode? It's a takeoff on Marlene Dietrich's character Shanghai Lily in Shanghai Express, which came out the year before. Talk about a quick turn around time! Anyways, the problem of what to do with Hollywood and American Orientalism is not going away any time soon -- Blade Runner's just two weeks away!