Come See the Paradise (1990)

R | 133 mins | Drama, Romance | 23 December 1990

Director:

Alan Parker

Writer:

Alan Parker

Cinematographer:

Michael Seresin

Editor:

Gerry Hambling

Production Designer:

Geoffrey Kirkland

Production Companies:

Lilico Pictures, Dirty Hands Productions
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HISTORY

       Come See the Paradise used uncredited scenes from two Twentieth Century-Fox films: Under Two Flags (1936, see entry) with Ronald Colman and Claudette Colbert, and Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938, see entry), starring Peter Lorre.
       According to studio documents in AMPAS library files, writer-director Alan Parker interviewed 3,000 Japanese Americans during casting and sometimes used details of their conversations to improve the film’s texture. To recreate Los Angeles, CA's Little Tokyo neighborhood, Parker used an old downtown section of Portland, OR, that was formerly its Japanese neighborhood, called “J-Town.” In the Jan 1991 Box, Parker credited part of the film’s low, $17.5 budget to his use of an “architecturally accurate street” in J-Town that required a minimum of “art direction.” After filming in Portland from 1 Aug into Sep 1989, the production moved to Astoria, OR, Seattle, WA, and the Mojave Desert outside Palmdale, CA, where the crew built an internment camp, the 1 Sep 1989 DV and 30 Nov 1990 The Times (London), reported.
       Come See the Paradise screened 13 May 1990 at the 43rd Cannes Film Festival, the 15 May 1990 SF Chron and 16 May 1990 Var reported. The film premiered In Los Angeles on 17 Dec 1990; opened in Los Angeles, San Francisco, CA, and New York City on 23 Dec 1990; and opened wide around the country 18 Jan 1991, according to the 19 Dec 1990 DV.

      The film opens with the following cards: “Brooklyn, New York, 1936” and “Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, 1936.” End credits give the ... More Less

       Come See the Paradise used uncredited scenes from two Twentieth Century-Fox films: Under Two Flags (1936, see entry) with Ronald Colman and Claudette Colbert, and Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938, see entry), starring Peter Lorre.
       According to studio documents in AMPAS library files, writer-director Alan Parker interviewed 3,000 Japanese Americans during casting and sometimes used details of their conversations to improve the film’s texture. To recreate Los Angeles, CA's Little Tokyo neighborhood, Parker used an old downtown section of Portland, OR, that was formerly its Japanese neighborhood, called “J-Town.” In the Jan 1991 Box, Parker credited part of the film’s low, $17.5 budget to his use of an “architecturally accurate street” in J-Town that required a minimum of “art direction.” After filming in Portland from 1 Aug into Sep 1989, the production moved to Astoria, OR, Seattle, WA, and the Mojave Desert outside Palmdale, CA, where the crew built an internment camp, the 1 Sep 1989 DV and 30 Nov 1990 The Times (London), reported.
       Come See the Paradise screened 13 May 1990 at the 43rd Cannes Film Festival, the 15 May 1990 SF Chron and 16 May 1990 Var reported. The film premiered In Los Angeles on 17 Dec 1990; opened in Los Angeles, San Francisco, CA, and New York City on 23 Dec 1990; and opened wide around the country 18 Jan 1991, according to the 19 Dec 1990 DV.

      The film opens with the following cards: “Brooklyn, New York, 1936” and “Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, 1936.” End credits give the following information: “ Oshidori Utagassen film footage, director Masahiro Makino, used by permission of Nikkatsu Corporation.” The filmmakers give “special thanks to" the following: Bill Naito; Sue Embrey; Nipper Records; Sho Dozono; Harry Kitano; Rare Records; George Azumano; Arthur Hansen; Harold Steele; Judy & Robert Murase; Stone S. Ishimaru; Jim Andrews; Homer & Miyuki Yasui; Lise Yasui; Yesterday Records; Kazuko Underhill; Patty Kinaga; Dan Hinatsu; Meg Imamoto; Juliet Taylor; Jack Lechner; Yuriko Matsubara; Joe Soldo; Cenex Casting; Kayoko Elliott; Eddie Karam; Heather Conroy; Mino & Lillian Okazaki; the Irinaga Family; Carissa Blix; George & Ruth Muramatsu; Ken & Ruth Namba; Betty & Frank Chow; Ryuichi Sakamoto; Group IV Studios; Ruth Yamadera.” Further information includes the following: “We would like to thank the Oregon Film Commission; the Cities of Portland and Astoria; the Washington State Film Commission; the Cities of Seattle, Cathlamet, and Tacoma; the State of California; the Cities of Palmdale and Los Angeles; the Toyo Miyatake Photographic Collection; the Oregon Historical Properties Commission and its coordinator James Jones; the Hillsboro Department of Public Works and the Clover Park Vocational Technical Institute.” Filmmakers claim, as part of the standard indemnification boilerplate: “While the film was inspired by actual events which took place in California during the 1940’s, the characters portrayed are fictitious as are the firms, and any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual firms, is purely coincidental.” Also, Come See the Paradise was “filmed entirely on location in Oregon, Washington State, California, and K.E.W. Studios Northwest.”
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jan 1991
pp. 10-11.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1989
p. 1, 57.
Daily Variety
1 Sep 1989
p. 1, 19.
Daily Variety
10 May 1990
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1990
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1990
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1990
p. 4, 26.
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1990
Section F, p. 1.
New York Times
23 Dec 1990
p. 42.
San Francisco Chronicle
15 May 1990
Section E, p. 2.
The Times (London)
30 Nov 1990.
---
Variety
16 May 1990
p. 21.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Pruitt Taylor Vince
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Twentieth Century Fox Presents
An Alan Parker Film
A Twentieth Century Fox Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Lighting consultant
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
3rd asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Best boy
Elec
Elec
Best boy
Dolly grip
Grip
Cam equip supplied by
Loc equipped by
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Draftsperson
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Asst set dec
Buyer
Leadman
Key set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Draper
Head greens
Head scenic artist
Scenic artist
Scenic artist
Sign and graphic artist
Standby scenic artist
Asst sign painter
Asst sign painter
Asst sign painter
Const coord
Const foreman
Const gang boss
Carpenter
Carpenter
Carpenter
Period projection equip supplied by
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Women's key costumer
Men's key costumer
Women's set costumer
Men's set costumer
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
MUSIC
Orig mus
Mus rec and mixed at
Mus rec eng
Orch eng
SOUND
Prod sd
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Foley sd eff
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Spec eff asst
Film titles
MAKEUP
Hair des by
Makeup des
2d makeup artist
Addl makeup artist
Hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
Addl hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl casting
Addl casting
Post prod coord
Scr supv
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Accounting prod asst
Asst to Mr. Parker
Asst to Mr. Colesberry
Researcher
Japanese translator
Japanese translator
Japanese film research consultant
ADR voice casting
Loc mgr
Loc coord
Loc coord
Loc coord
Loc coord
Loc coord
Loc coord
Loc mgr, Palmdale
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Craft services
Craft services
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Picture car coord
Picture car asst
Studio teacher
Casting asst
Casting asst
Casting asst
Unit pub
Asst prod coord
Prod office staff
Prod office staff
Prod office staff
Prod office staff
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Mr. Quaid
Animal trainer
Projectionist
Loc equipped by
Loc equipped by
STAND INS
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt coord
SOURCES
SONGS
"Kawamura Family Theme," by Jake and Alex Parker
"Wasurecha Iya Yo," composed by Yoshikatsu Hosoda, lyrics by Hiroshi Mogami, performed by Sanae Hosaka, courtesy of Victor Musical Industries/JVC: Japan
"Until The Real Thing Comes Along," words and music by S. Cahn, M. Holiner, S. Chaplin, L.E. Freeman, and A. Nichols, performed by Ronald Yamamoto
+
SONGS
"Kawamura Family Theme," by Jake and Alex Parker
"Wasurecha Iya Yo," composed by Yoshikatsu Hosoda, lyrics by Hiroshi Mogami, performed by Sanae Hosaka, courtesy of Victor Musical Industries/JVC: Japan
"Until The Real Thing Comes Along," words and music by S. Cahn, M. Holiner, S. Chaplin, L.E. Freeman, and A. Nichols, performed by Ronald Yamamoto
"Flower That Blooms In The Rain," arranged and written by Fujio Ikeda, lyrics by Takahashi, performed by Mariko Seki
"Jack's Theatre Song," words by Alan Parker, music by Eddie Karam, performed by Dennis Quaid
"I've Been Feeling Lethargic Lately," arranged and written by Masao Koga, lyrics by Takahashi, performed by Noriko Awaya
"Lonely Evening Song," arranged and written by Masao Koga, lyrics by Nishioka, performed by Mariko Seki
"If We Never Meet Again," words and music by Horace Geriloch and Louis Armstrong, performed by Fran Lucci
"Love Birds," arranged and written by Harano, lyrics by Masao Kume, performed by Syoji
"Never The Less," words and music by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, performed by Mark Earley
"Love Is The Sweetest Thing," words and music by Ray Noble, performed by Mark Earley
"O Sacred Head, Now Wounded," performed by the Los Angeles Holiness Youth Choir
"Hail To California," words and music by Clinton R. Morse
"Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree," words and music by Stept, Tobias and Brown, performed by Teri Eiko Koide, Jumi Emizawa and Cynthia Lauren
"Ohtone Shigure," lyrics by Yuji Kubota, music by Nobuyuki Takeoka, arranged by Sadakichi Okuyama, performed by Hisao Ito.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
23 December 1990
Premiere Information:
Cannes Film Festival premiere: 13 May 1990
Los Angeles premiere: 17 December 1990
Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York openings: 23 December 1990
Production Date:
began 1 August 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
11 January 1991
Copyright Number:
PA496405
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Camera and lenses by Arriflex
Prints
Prints by DeLuxe®
Duration(in mins):
133
Length(in feet):
11,950
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30639
SYNOPSIS

Lily Kawamura McGurn and her young daughter, Mini, walk along a country road, talking about “papa,” whom Mini has not seen in a long time. A dozen years earlier, in 1936, theater projectionist and union organizer Jack McGurn sets off a smoke bomb in a Brooklyn, New York, theater, but is outraged when his fellow unionists ignite a fire bomb that endangers patrons. He burns his hands trying to put out the flames. After the union fires Jack, coworker Augie Farrell explains that by staying to fight the fire, he made himself identifiable and endangered the union. In the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, theater operator Hiroshi Kawamura hosts a party for a visiting Japanese dance troupe. A Japanese immigrant, or “Issei,” Hiroshi introduces his six American-born “Nisei” children, including teenage daughter Lily Kawamura, considered a beauty in the community. During the festivities, Hiroshi’s film projectionist, Mr. Ogata, is shamed when everyone sees his young wife in the embrace of an entertainer. Arriving in Los Angeles, Jack visits his brother, Gerry McGurn, and Gerry’s wife, Marge. Over dinner, Gerry and Jack argue about politics, and Gerry accuses his brother of being a “Red,” but Jack claims he just wants to find a job. Meanwhile, at the Little Tokyo social club where he gambles, Hiroshi Kawamura laments that his indebtedness has grown because Japanese-American youngsters want to see American movies, not the Japanese movies he plays at his theater. Mr. Fujioka, a prosperous widower, offers to cover Hiroshi’s debts in return for permission to marry Lily. Hiroshi and his wife take their daughter to meet Mr. Fujioka and his mother, but Lily is disgusted with the older man. ... +


Lily Kawamura McGurn and her young daughter, Mini, walk along a country road, talking about “papa,” whom Mini has not seen in a long time. A dozen years earlier, in 1936, theater projectionist and union organizer Jack McGurn sets off a smoke bomb in a Brooklyn, New York, theater, but is outraged when his fellow unionists ignite a fire bomb that endangers patrons. He burns his hands trying to put out the flames. After the union fires Jack, coworker Augie Farrell explains that by staying to fight the fire, he made himself identifiable and endangered the union. In the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, theater operator Hiroshi Kawamura hosts a party for a visiting Japanese dance troupe. A Japanese immigrant, or “Issei,” Hiroshi introduces his six American-born “Nisei” children, including teenage daughter Lily Kawamura, considered a beauty in the community. During the festivities, Hiroshi’s film projectionist, Mr. Ogata, is shamed when everyone sees his young wife in the embrace of an entertainer. Arriving in Los Angeles, Jack visits his brother, Gerry McGurn, and Gerry’s wife, Marge. Over dinner, Gerry and Jack argue about politics, and Gerry accuses his brother of being a “Red,” but Jack claims he just wants to find a job. Meanwhile, at the Little Tokyo social club where he gambles, Hiroshi Kawamura laments that his indebtedness has grown because Japanese-American youngsters want to see American movies, not the Japanese movies he plays at his theater. Mr. Fujioka, a prosperous widower, offers to cover Hiroshi’s debts in return for permission to marry Lily. Hiroshi and his wife take their daughter to meet Mr. Fujioka and his mother, but Lily is disgusted with the older man. Jack McGurn gets a temporary job as Hiroshi’s film projectionist when Mr. Ogata commits suicide over his wife’s infidelity. Hiroshi’s son, Charlie Kawamura, befriends Jack and introduces him to Little Tokyo culture. When Charlie stops at a garment shop where his sister Lily works as a seamstress, Jack is smitten, and convinces her to accompany them to a Chinese restaurant. While Charlie runs back to the theater to lock the doors, Lily explains to Jack that her father merely runs the theater, because immigrant Japanese cannot own property in California. Jack asks permission to kiss her, and Lily complies. Later, Jack goes dancing with Lily, and takes her to the projection booth in the empty theater to drink the last of Mr. Ogata’s sake. Jack tells Lily he worked in Brooklyn as a “sweatshop lawyer,” a labor organizer who knows all the government regulations that protect workers. Again they kiss, but Jack sends Lily home before they become more intimate. When Hiroshi learns about the relationship, he fires Jack and orders him to stay away from his daughter, despite Jack’s declaration of love. While Jack gathers his belongings from the projection room, Lily joins him and they make love. On a country road in the present, Lily explains to Mini how she and Jack had to marry in Seattle, Washington, because intermarriage was illegal in California. Lily remembers her mother refusing to speak to her when she left home. After a civil ceremony, she and Jack come upon a wedding party, join the festivities, and have so much fun they almost believe the party is theirs. When Mini is born on Christmas Day, 1938, Jack works in a fish cannery on the docks. Though he talks to a coworker about management exploitation and the need for worker solidarity, Jack avoids joining a strike. However, when the bosses dump a load of fish on the strikers and badly injure one of them, Jack challenges them by reciting labor laws. Lily is angry at her husband’s activism, fearful he will lose his job, but Jack distributes union leaflets and joins a picket line. When policemen attack the demonstration, they throw Jack in jail for assault. Lily, left home alone, takes Mini to Los Angeles. As a plainclothes detective interrogates Jack about his Communist sympathies, he informs the labor activist that Japanese airplanes bombed America’s Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii that morning. Lily arrives in Little Tokyo as Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents ransack her parents’ home, because her father has maintained ties with Japanese cultural groups. Hiroshi is jailed at Terminal Island near Los Angeles. At first, Lily’s mother refuses to speak to her, but when she sees Mini, she embraces the little girl. By the time Jack returns to Little Tokyo, the U.S. government has rounded up many Issei, and Lily’s brother, Harry, claims the Nisei are next, regardless of being native-born Americans. During lovemaking, Jack pledges his devotion to Lily. Later, he takes Mini to visit a department store Santa Claus, but the man refuses to let the little “Jap” sit on his lap. When Jack becomes upset, store managers threaten to call police and order him to leave. During Christmas dinner with the Kawamuras, Jack sings a Japanese song he learned while projecting movies at Hiroshi’s theater. Over the following days, whites rampage through Little Tokyo, destroying property. “We thought we were Americans,” Lily tells Jack. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 decrees that Japanese Americans have six days to sell their belongings and report to evacuation trains with no more than seventy pounds of property apiece. During the family’s “evacuation sale” of furniture, Mrs. Kawamura burns her mementos, and the children make a game of smashing all the Japanese shellac 78-rpm records. Jack accompanies the family to the train, and tells Lily he will find her after he reports to his parole officer in Seattle. After the train leaves, Jack walks through the ghost town of Little Tokyo, and when he returns to the empty Kawamura house, local children are ransacking the backyard chicken coops. At first, the Kawamura family lives in horse stalls at a racetrack, but after two months, they are sent to a dusty camp in another state. Seattle police rescind Jack’s parole because he has been ordered to report to the draft board in Tacoma, Washington. At the internment camp, Hiroshi rejoins the family, but other Japanese Americans suspect him of collaborating with the FBI. Shunned and at one point beaten, Hiroshi withdraws into himself. Jack, meanwhile, goes through basic U.S. Army training and, when granted his first leave, hitchhikes to the internment camp to see Lily and Mini. Incarceration has taken its toll on the Kawamuras. Charlie has joined a radical “Banzai” movement that objects to their treatment, and during a clash with guards he is injured and sent to the camp hospital. Hiroshi sits silently at his son’s bedside. After three days, Jack returns to duty, knowing he faces punishment because he was absent without official leave (AWOL) after his first day. Lily and her sisters make army netting, which is classified as “war work,” but when bosses refuse to let Mrs. Kawamura visit because she is an Issei, Lily challenges them. Meanwhile, Charlie, having recuperated, refuses to sign a United States loyalty oath denouncing ties to Imperial Japan. Brother Harry signs it, however, and joins the U.S. Army’s Japanese 442nd Infantry Regiment. When Jack returns to the internment camp, he tells Lily he cannot see her for a while because his unit is shipping out. He visits Hiroshi, now sick in the hospital, and admits to the older man that he is AWOL because he needed to see the Kawamura family, whom he loves. Hiroshi insists that Jack return to his unit, but to keep loving Lily. When Jack returns to duty, his commanding officer is sympathetic to his situation, but claims the Japanese have been interned for their own good. Another officer interrupts to ask if Jack, who is enlisted as Jack McGann, is actually Brooklyn labor organizer Jack McGurn. The man tells Jack he is in “big trouble.” Meanwhile, Hiroshi walks into a dust storm and dies. Charlie is sent to a special camp for troublemakers. Harry is killed in combat in Europe and his medal for bravery is sent to the family. Eventually, in 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidates the president’s executive order and Japanese Americans are free to go home. Charlie “repatriates” himself to Japan. The others have nothing to return to in Little Tokyo, so they move to a cousin’s farm. As Lily walks Mini along the country road, she tells her daughter that 200,000 Japanese were killed in Hiroshima by a powerful bomb that ended the war. As they reach the station, they hear a train whistle. Mini wonders if she and her father will recognize each other. Jack gets off the train and embraces his wife and daughter warmly. They walk together along the dirt road. +

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

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