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  #1  
Old 11-27-2009, 08:30 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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WWII Movie Portrayals of Japanese?

In the WWII era, when movie directors portrayed the japanese , did they make any effort to have the (usually Chinese-American actors) speak anything resembling atual japanese, or was it just gibberish?
For instance, I was watching an old print of "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo", and the actors portraying japanese generals seem to be speaking an unknown language-were the actors just tpold to spout some gibberish? To me it sounded like "wang sgo chunk gao ing gao"-or did the scripts feature dialogue in real japanese?
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  #2  
Old 11-27-2009, 09:16 AM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Well, I saw a clip from one, once, that featured a Japanese officer trying to listen in on a tapped/captured communications line, but dismissing it with a recognizable "dame das!" (or however the proper spelling is for that particular phrase and usage) when he found it was being used by Navajo code talkers.

However, as the film apparently featured code talkers explicitly, I imagine this might not have been from the war years—bolstered by the fact that the only film I can find aside from 2002's "Windtalkers" that features the code talkers was from 1959. So there's that.
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  #3  
Old 11-27-2009, 12:13 PM
Cerowyn Cerowyn is offline
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Originally Posted by Ranchoth View Post
"dame das!"
Dame desu, keeping in mind that there are no silent letters in transliterated Japanese, and the trailing 'u' on desu is usually not voiced or barely voiced (depending on the regional accent and/or individual).

"Tora! Tora! Tora!" was famously a Japanese-American effort, with Japanese actors who had their dialogue written for a Japanese audience.
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Old 11-27-2009, 12:25 PM
bup bup is offline
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Originally Posted by Ranchoth View Post
Well, I saw a clip from one, once, that featured a Japanese officer trying to listen in on a tapped/captured communications line, but dismissing it with a recognizable "dame das!" (or however the proper spelling is for that particular phrase and usage) when he found it was being used by Navajo code talkers.

However, as the film apparently featured code talkers explicitly, I imagine this might not have been from the war years—bolstered by the fact that the only film I can find aside from 2002's "Windtalkers" that features the code talkers was from 1959. So there's that.
According to wikipedia (citing an article that no longer exists) the Navajo code talkers were declassified in 1968 (and boy did they need a bathroom) - what film mentioned code talkers in 1959?

Last edited by bup; 11-27-2009 at 12:26 PM..
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  #5  
Old 11-27-2009, 12:38 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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On the Pratchett Annotated file, about Interesting Times, they mention the (uncomfirmed) legend that, when Hollywood was churning out movies during WWII to keep morale, where John Wayne types slaughtered Japanese, the actors actually were Koreans and similar (since the real Japanese were mostly in the internment camps). So, the legend goes, one director came up with the idea to have them shout very fast "I tie your shoe, you tie my shoe" as an approximation of Japanese-sounding.
Since the roles of the faux-Japanese weren't very large - they had to be killed by the American hero - and since Hollywood during and for some decades after that had trouble with portaying minorities with any sensitivity or concern for accuracy - look at how many WASPs played Native Americans or Japanese, instead of just hiring real people from that group; or how Hollywood Westerns for decades portrayed the Native Americans defending their own country and culture in distorted light - this sounds plausible to me.
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  #6  
Old 11-27-2009, 03:51 PM
Umbriel2 Umbriel2 is offline
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Political correctness and "respect" aside, even the most basic technical accuracy was a spotty thing at best in films made in that era, and movies were ground out in such quantity that it would have been rare for a director to expend much concern about such matters.

For example, any war movie made in the 1950s or later generally has at least basically accurate uniforms for the enemy, as actual ones became accessible as war trophys and could be readily examined and duplicated. Wartime films often feature only the crudest approximations -- Take an old WWI German uniform from All Quiet on the Western Front, stick a big tin swastika on the hat, and voila: a Nazi officer!

So the likelihood of any wartime studio going to the trouble of finding a Japanese-speaking advisor to come up with the dialog for the script, or even of getting a Japanese-English dictionary from a major library, is pretty slim.
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  #7  
Old 11-27-2009, 05:49 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is online now
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Exactly. No one cared if the Japanese was real or not. Whatever they said was arbitrarily assumed by the audience to be Japanese and they went back to concentrating on the movie, not trivial nitpicking.
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  #8  
Old 11-27-2009, 07:43 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Originally Posted by bup View Post
According to wikipedia (citing an article that no longer exists) the Navajo code talkers were declassified in 1968 (and boy did they need a bathroom) - what film mentioned code talkers in 1959?
It lists Never So Few, in the same article. I've never seen it myself, though.
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  #9  
Old 11-30-2009, 03:54 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The Production Code Administration had a rule against using gibberish as foreign languages; they required that all dialogue in a foreign language be spelled out in the script, with an English translation, to ensure that nothing inappropriate was spoken. Thus, for example, the natives in King Kong (1933) were speaking an actual language, although I forget which.
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  #10  
Old 11-30-2009, 05:07 AM
Isamu Isamu is offline
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Originally Posted by Walloon View Post
The Production Code Administration had a rule against using gibberish as foreign languages; they required that all dialogue in a foreign language be spelled out in the script, with an English translation, to ensure that nothing inappropriate was spoken. Thus, for example, the natives in King Kong (1933) were speaking an actual language, although I forget which.

Hi Walloon, is this the same Code you are talking about?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_...ns_of_the_Code
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  #11  
Old 11-30-2009, 11:09 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Yes, but what I am referring to is an enforcement rule the Production Code Administration used to administer the Code. Specifically, to enforce the section of the Code dealing with offensive language.

From Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration, by Thomas Doherty, p. 113:
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It [the PCA] demanded translations of all foreign words uttered, printed, or sung.
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  #12  
Old 11-30-2009, 11:42 AM
lissener lissener is offline
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All the above aside, there's just no way that the "gibberish" would've been left in the hands of the individual actors. Even nowadays, whenever there's a crowd scene, and the background voices are looped in later (ADR), each line is written and spoken by an actor, no matter how much it's obscured in the final mix. Think about it: if a director said to a bunch of actors: "Say something that sounds vaguely Japanese," each actor would sound different. And most of them would sound ridiculous. I have no doubt, regardless of what the language actually was, that each line was written beforehand.
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  #13  
Old 11-30-2009, 12:45 PM
Umbriel2 Umbriel2 is offline
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Originally Posted by Walloon View Post
Yes, but what I am referring to is an enforcement rule the Production Code Administration used to administer the Code. Specifically, to enforce the section of the Code dealing with offensive language.

From Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration, by Thomas Doherty, p. 113:
I didn't see anything in the Code as displayed on Wikipedia that prohibited gibberish. I can see where there might be suspicion about foreign language indecency that would require a translation to be provided, and that actors wouldn't be trusted to ad lib gibberish (lest they babble something naughty, accidentally or on purpose), but I'm not sure that would rule out something like the "I tie your shoe, you tie my shoe" that constanze described above.

If translations were required, then I guess maybe a screenwriter did have to refer to a Japanese-English dictionary, though such translations would almost certainly not reflect correct grammar or idiom.
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  #14  
Old 11-30-2009, 01:04 PM
sqweels sqweels is offline
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Originally Posted by Walloon View Post
The Production Code Administration had a rule against using gibberish as foreign languages; they required that all dialogue in a foreign language be spelled out in the script, with an English translation, to ensure that nothing inappropriate was spoken. Thus, for example, the natives in King Kong (1933) were speaking an actual language, although I forget which.
Did that apply to John Belushi when he did he "samurai" routine?
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  #15  
Old 11-30-2009, 01:07 PM
lissener lissener is offline
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Originally Posted by sqweels View Post
Did that apply to John Belushi when he did he "samurai" routine?
That had absolutely nothing to do with the production code. Go to the wiki link and read the article.
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  #16  
Old 11-30-2009, 01:11 PM
silenus silenus is online now
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Originally Posted by sqweels View Post
Did that apply to John Belushi when he did he "samurai" routine?
No. SNL was a) post-code, and b) TV, which wasn't subject to the Code.
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  #17  
Old 11-30-2009, 01:47 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Originally Posted by Umbriel2 View Post
I didn't see anything in the Code as displayed on Wikipedia that prohibited gibberish.
Again, it was not part of the Code, it was an administrative rule used to enforce the language section of the Code.

P.S. Note that much of that Wikipedia article summarizes the Code, and does not quote it in full.

Last edited by Walloon; 11-30-2009 at 01:50 PM..
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  #18  
Old 11-30-2009, 02:17 PM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
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So did they ever really have a Japanese character yelling, "YOU DIE JOE!'?
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  #19  
Old 12-02-2009, 10:36 AM
mlees mlees is offline
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Originally Posted by Hypno-Toad View Post
So did they ever really have a Japanese character yelling, "YOU DIE JOE!'?
I don't understand the question...

In either the Sands of Iwo Jima, or Halls of Montezuma (I forget which), there was a scene set at nightime on an invasion beachhead, and (purportedly) Japanese soldiers are shouting out taunts, in English, at the movie's hero and his fellow Marines. ("Down with Marines!")

Are you asking if they actually used Japanese extras to shout the lines for the filming?
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  #20  
Old 12-02-2009, 10:48 AM
Hypno-Toad Hypno-Toad is offline
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It's a bit of a cliche to have the japanese soldier yelling out, "YOU DIE JOE!" in some of these films. But I don't know if it really happened in any of the real wartime films or if later parodies or satirical accounts invented it.
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  #21  
Old 12-02-2009, 11:36 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon View Post
The Production Code Administration had a rule against using gibberish as foreign languages; they required that all dialogue in a foreign language be spelled out in the script, with an English translation, to ensure that nothing inappropriate was spoken. Thus, for example, the natives in King Kong (1933) were speaking an actual language, although I forget which.

since it was a fantasy movie, with a non-existant island peopled by non-existant natives, I suspect the language was made up.

But, on further review, perhaps not.
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  #22  
Old 12-03-2009, 08:48 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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This sounds like the crowd to ask: Where did the bucktoothed thick glasses-wearing caricature come from? My fluent-and-literate Japanese/American student doesn't know either.
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  #23  
Old 12-03-2009, 09:07 PM
An Gadaí An Gadaí is offline
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Not really addressing the OP but might be of interest to some people on this thread, the American propaganda film, My Japan from WWII.
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  #24  
Old 12-03-2009, 10:28 PM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Originally Posted by Cardinal View Post
This sounds like the crowd to ask: Where did the bucktoothed thick glasses-wearing caricature come from? My fluent-and-literate Japanese/American student doesn't know either.
Well, I don't know about the teeth, but similar glasses seemed to have been worn by a number of Japanese politicians and officers in the period, just from the photos I've seen—maybe they Were The Style At The Time, or were the Japanese military's equivalent of BCGs or something.

I always like to contrast these portrayals with some other posters from the war years. I think all that first poster lacks is a fife and a tricorner hat, somewhere.
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  #25  
Old 12-03-2009, 10:43 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Cardinal View Post
This sounds like the crowd to ask: Where did the bucktoothed thick glasses-wearing caricature come from? My fluent-and-literate Japanese/American student doesn't know either.
I don't know about the teeth, but Japanese leader Hideki Tojo wore glasses. Here's a wartime poster of him with glasses and a toothy grin.

Last edited by Colibri; 12-03-2009 at 10:46 PM..
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  #26  
Old 12-03-2009, 11:51 PM
Mister Rik Mister Rik is online now
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
Here's a wartime poster of him with glasses and a toothy grin.
Holy crap! Tojo was a Skrull?

Last edited by Mister Rik; 12-03-2009 at 11:51 PM..
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