A Majority of One (1961)

A Majority of One (1961)

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Starring: Rosalind Russell, Alec Guinness, Ray Danton

A Japanese widower and a Jewish widow meet on an ocean liner and together learn to overcome personal tragedy and the cultural divide between them.

I'll admit to some immaturity here. The prospect of Sir Alec Guinness playing a Japanese man amused me. Fortunately, there isn't any ridiculous yellowface makeup or embarrassing caricature, but Sir Alec doesn't even remotely resemble a Japanese person. I will give him credit for pulling off a passable Japanese English accent (the character's Oxford background lends some plausibility to Guinness' natural accent) and his Japanese sounds decent as well. I find it hypocritical to pontificate about racial tolerance and such and then not even cast a Japanese person as the lead male. (A number of commentators note that Sessue Hayakawa would've been a perfect choice for the role.) At very least, the character is treated with respect and if we're being fair, Rosalind Russell's characterization is fairly stereotypical as a Jewish mother but not bad by any means. Marc Marno's portrayal of the Japanese servant Eddie is far more cringeworthy. These objections start to melt away as a really sweet relationship develops between Mrs. Jacoby and Mr. Asano. It's a nice little romance which is rather touching. If you can look past the unfortunate casting choice, I think you'll agree that it's worth a watch.

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