Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, a trouble-prone drifter trying to go straight, wanders into a small Mississippi town looking for a simple and honest life but finds himself embroiled with problem-filled women.
Two scam artists prey on women for their money. They clash in a Mediterranean hot spot. Will the cultured, high-class con artist come out on top, or will the rough small-change scammer rise to win the wager?
This comedy-drama is partially a gentle satire on America's drive to change the world in the post-war years. One year after World War II, Captain Fisby is sent to the village of Tobiki in Okinawa to teach the people democracy. The first step is to build a school -- but the wily Okinawans know what they really want. They tell him about their culture and traditions -- and persuade him to build something they really want instead: a teahouse. Fisby has a hard time breaking this news to his superiors.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
It's great -- but today both the Left and the Right would hate it
This film made me realize how much we've lost as a country since the 1950s. According to Wikipedia at least, the book, play, and film were enormously popular for about 25 years, when political correctness set in, and liberals were oh-so-terribly aghast at Marlon Brando playing an Okinawan with a heavy accent. But it's Brando's character who is the most admirable in the movie -- sharp, perceptive, and cunning, but also warm, generous, and forgiving.
All told, it's the Okinawans who come off well -- it is we Americans who seem rather ridiculous, with our notions of winning hearts and minds and spreading democracy. Remember that this film was made just ten years after WWII, when we were up against the Soviet Union, and democracy and "the American way" were at the heart of what we thought we were all about. But here is a film that completely satirizes, if not ridicules, all that, and yet it was enormously popular.
Perhaps I'm looking at it through rose-tinted lenses -- there may well have been the Michael Savages and Rush Limbaughs of the day who inveighed against the Hollywood liberals seeking to undermine American resolve in the face of the Soviet threat and disgracing the memory of those who had died in WWII.
But I think, more accurately, it was a time of greater American self- confidence, when we were able to laugh at ourselves more easily, and weren't terrified that this, that or another group might be ticked off.
In short, this is a wise movie that should be seen by all those in power who have anything to do with how we conduct ourselves toward other nations and peoples -- as well as anyone who wants to see an entertaining but also educational film.
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