Retro Film Review- Tokyo File 212 (1951)

Tokyo File 212 is a 1952 spy thriller written and directed by Dorrell McGowan and Stuart E. McGowan who based it on a script by George P. Breakston. It was a co-production between Breakston–McGowan Productions and the Japanese film studio Tonichi Enterprises Company. It has the distinction of being the first Hollywood feature to be filmed entirely in Japan.

U.S. intelligence agent Jim Carter (Lee Frederick) is sent to Japan in 1951 to investigate a Communist cell supporting North Korea disguised as a reporter. His college friend Taro Matsuto (Katsuhiko Haida) has been spotted at their rallies and both the American and Japanese governments want to stop him. He meets European immigrant Steffi Novak (Florence Marly) who now works as a tour guide for foreigners. As Carter works with Taro’s father Mr. Matsuto (Tatsuo Saitō) and ex-girlfriend Namiko (Reiko Otani) to find Taro, the commies plan continues to have deadly consequences.

I will say, it was nice to watch a film from the days when even some in Hollywood recognized the evil that came from Communism. The commies are shown to have malevolent plans with a hypocritical edge when it comes to the leaders. The plot definitely highlights how the commies take advantage of the downtrodden to accomplish their goals.

As far as the plot, it was definitely interesting. I would not say it was the best spy thriller I had ever seen, but it definitely had my attention. It shows how much the evils of Communism were rejected by two continents. This aspect of it as well as seeing Japan in the 1950s made it compelling.

The acting was also pretty good. While I was not a fan of Carter pretending to be a member of the press as some sort of virtue, I did appreciate that he put everything into the role. The same goes for Marly, who definitely portrayed Steffi in a sympathetic light. Being a co-production between an American and Japanese studio, you could tell they were very selective in this cast. Taro is also brilliantly portrayed by Haida, who brings his A-game in portraying the tragic character.

Bottom line, Tokyo File 212 is intriguing if only for its historical significance in American cinema. It was a very bold day when you could stand against the evils of communism in Hollywood. By watching people trying to stop it from infecting their nation, we learn about freedom and what it means.

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Some violence including suicide

FAVORITE QUOTE: The price of nylons has gone up.

I was unable to find a trailer, so you can take a look at the movie poster below:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my reviews of Convoy and Osaka Elegy. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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