Bridge to the Sun (1961)

112 mins | Biography | 5 October 1961

Director:

Etienne Périer

Writer:

Charles Kaufman

Producer:

Jacques Bar

Cinematographers:

Bill Kelly, Seiichi Kizuka, Marcel Weiss

Production Designer:

Hiroshi Mizutani

Production Company:

Cité Films
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HISTORY

Gwen Terasaki’s 1957 memoir, Bridge to the Sun, was not yet published when Malcolm Stuart, who then worked under talent agent Ingo Preminger, attempted to “package” a screen adaptation of the book with Henry King as director. According to items in the 9 Aug 1957 and 15 Aug 1957 LAT, Stuart hoped to cast Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, and Frances Langford in leading roles. Shortly after, a condensed version of the book appeared in the Sep 1957 issue of Reader’s Digest, and on 3 Sep 1957, NYT announced Paramount Pictures had optioned screen rights, but no producer, director, nor cast had been attached. The following year, the project moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM), where it was assigned to producer Julian Blaustein, the 30 Jul 1958 DV reported.
       MGM encountered difficulties finding an actress to play “Gwen Terasaki,” the wife of a Japanese diplomat. An article in the 28 Sep 1960 Var indicated “a number of stars turned the part down, fearing a possible adverse public reaction from appearing in a romantic situation opposite an Oriental.” Among others, Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds were sought for the role, and Eleanor Parker expressed interest, according to items in the 15 May 1959 and 24 Nov 1959 LAT, and 4 Jan 1960 DV. Carroll Baker’s casting was announced in the 28 Sep 1960 Var, which noted that MGM had considered casting white actor Anthony Perkins as “Hidenari Terasaki,” but director Etienne Périer wanted “a real Japanese” for the part. James Shigeta was confirmed as the male lead in the 5 Oct 1960 NYT. ... More Less

Gwen Terasaki’s 1957 memoir, Bridge to the Sun, was not yet published when Malcolm Stuart, who then worked under talent agent Ingo Preminger, attempted to “package” a screen adaptation of the book with Henry King as director. According to items in the 9 Aug 1957 and 15 Aug 1957 LAT, Stuart hoped to cast Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, and Frances Langford in leading roles. Shortly after, a condensed version of the book appeared in the Sep 1957 issue of Reader’s Digest, and on 3 Sep 1957, NYT announced Paramount Pictures had optioned screen rights, but no producer, director, nor cast had been attached. The following year, the project moved to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. (MGM), where it was assigned to producer Julian Blaustein, the 30 Jul 1958 DV reported.
       MGM encountered difficulties finding an actress to play “Gwen Terasaki,” the wife of a Japanese diplomat. An article in the 28 Sep 1960 Var indicated “a number of stars turned the part down, fearing a possible adverse public reaction from appearing in a romantic situation opposite an Oriental.” Among others, Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds were sought for the role, and Eleanor Parker expressed interest, according to items in the 15 May 1959 and 24 Nov 1959 LAT, and 4 Jan 1960 DV. Carroll Baker’s casting was announced in the 28 Sep 1960 Var, which noted that MGM had considered casting white actor Anthony Perkins as “Hidenari Terasaki,” but director Etienne Périer wanted “a real Japanese” for the part. James Shigeta was confirmed as the male lead in the 5 Oct 1960 NYT.
       Principal cast members were due to arrive on 17 Oct 1960 in Washington, D.C., where eight days of exteriors were scheduled to be shot before production moved to Kyoto, Japan, until Christmas. After Japan, five weeks of interior filming were slated to be done in Paris, France. The picture was thus classified as a Japanese-French co-production so that French subsidies and an “automatic Japanese import license” could be obtained, although MGM had at least partially, if not fully, financed it, and retained worldwide distribution rights. As stated in the 28 Sep 1960 Var, the Japanese entity, Daiei Motion Picture Co., was “once a possible co-producer” and would potentially be involved in casting and logistics.
       The 4 Jan 1961 DV stated that filmmakers originally intended to include footage of the atomic blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, but had decided against it.
       James Shigeta, who had begun his career as a singer, planned to record a title song for Silver Slipper Records, according to an 8 Mar 1961 DV brief.
       MGM planned to build positive word-of-mouth by arranging 103 sneak previews around the country in Sep and early Oct 1961, described as “a record number of sneaks” in the 4 Oct 1961 Var. A special sneak preview was scheduled in Johnson City, TN, the hometown of Gwen Terasaki, on 10 Aug 1961, to be followed by a triple-premiere in Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Japan, and San Francisco, CA, slated for 5 Oct 1961, as reported in the 17 Aug 1961 DV. Later sources indicated the premiere took place on 4 Oct 1961 in Washington, D.C. A late Aug or early Sep 1961 screening was also set to occur at the Venice Film Festival, where Bridge to the Sun had been selected as the U.S. entry.
       Although critical reception was tepid, Etienne Périer received a Golden Globe Award nomination for “Promoting International Understanding.” The film was also recognized as “Picture of the Month” by Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Parents magazines, according to a 17 Aug 1961 DV brief.
       The picture opened Mar 1964 in Paris, France, as Le pont vers le soleil. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1957
p. 4.
Daily Variety
3 Sep 1957
p. 6.
Daily Variety
30 Jul 1958
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Nov 1960
p. 9.
Daily Variety
20 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Dec 1960
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Jan 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Mar 1961
p. 8.
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Aug 1961
p. 14.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
8 Sep 1961
p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
9 Aug 1957
p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
15 Aug 1957
Section B, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
3 Sep 1957
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
15 May 1959
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1959
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
24 Nov 1959
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
14 Oct 1960
Section A, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1961
Section B, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
18 Oct 1961
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1961
Section C, p. 11.
New York Times
3 Sep 1957
p. 24.
New York Times
5 Oct 1960
p. 45.
New York Times
14 Oct 1961
p. 13.
New York Times
18 Oct 1961
p. 50.
Variety
28 Sep 1960
p. 18.
Variety
26 Oct 1960
p. 12.
Variety
2 Nov 1960
p. 7.
Variety
4 Oct 1961
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
MUSIC
Orch cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Bridge to the Sun by Gwen Terasaki (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1957).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Le pont vers le soleil
Release Date:
5 October 1961
Premiere Information:
Washington, D.C., premiere: 4 October 1961
San Francisco opening: 5 October 1961
New York opening: 17 October 1961
Production Date:
mid October 1960--late January or February 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Cité Films
Copyright Date:
7 August 1961
Copyright Number:
LP20070
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
112
Countries:
France, Japan, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1930, while vacationing in Washington, D. C., Tennessee-born Gwen Harold falls in love with and marries Japanese diplomat Hidenari "Terry" Terasaki, despite her family's objections. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Gwen, Terry, and their daughter, Mako, are sent to Japan in exchange for American diplomats stationed there. Because of Terry's long opposition to the war party, he is stripped of all his stations and carefully watched by the Kempei-tai, the secret police. Furthermore, Gwen, torn between allegiance to her native country and affection for her new home, is often treated with hostility by the Japanese. An additional problem occurs when a friend of Mako's is killed during an Allied bombing, and Mako becomes embittered against her mother's country. When Japan eventually surrenders, Terry is appointed to act as a liaison between Emperor Hirohito and General MacArthur; but the war years have taken a heavy toll upon Terry's health, and he discovers that he has only a short time to live. To spare his wife and child, he suggests that they return to the United States where he will join them later. Though Gwen has learned of Terry's fatal illness, she respects her husband's wishes, and she and Mako leave ... +


In 1930, while vacationing in Washington, D. C., Tennessee-born Gwen Harold falls in love with and marries Japanese diplomat Hidenari "Terry" Terasaki, despite her family's objections. When the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor in 1941, Gwen, Terry, and their daughter, Mako, are sent to Japan in exchange for American diplomats stationed there. Because of Terry's long opposition to the war party, he is stripped of all his stations and carefully watched by the Kempei-tai, the secret police. Furthermore, Gwen, torn between allegiance to her native country and affection for her new home, is often treated with hostility by the Japanese. An additional problem occurs when a friend of Mako's is killed during an Allied bombing, and Mako becomes embittered against her mother's country. When Japan eventually surrenders, Terry is appointed to act as a liaison between Emperor Hirohito and General MacArthur; but the war years have taken a heavy toll upon Terry's health, and he discovers that he has only a short time to live. To spare his wife and child, he suggests that they return to the United States where he will join them later. Though Gwen has learned of Terry's fatal illness, she respects her husband's wishes, and she and Mako leave Japan. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.