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Warner Home Video presents
Destination Tokyo (1943)

"Look. I had an uncle. Lived in the old country, see. A real high-class guy, not like me. You know what he was? He was a teacher of philosophy. And to be that in Greece, the very home of philosophy, you got to be A-number-one smart. And that was my uncle. So they killed him, them Nazis. They stood him against a wall, you know why? Because he had brains."
- Leos Deopoulis "Tin Can" Gurfelis, Jr. (Dane Clark)

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: June 09, 2004

Stars: Cary Grant, John Garfield
Other Stars: Dane Clark, Tom Tully, Robert Hutton, Alan Hale, William Prince, John Ridgley
Director: Delmer Daves

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, derogatory language)
Run Time: 02h:14m:45s
Release Date: June 01, 2004
UPC: 012569573222
Genre: war


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+B-C+ C-

DVD Review

Anybody with minimal exposure to submarine life will know that Destination Tokyo is wartime propaganda. The USS Copperfin, the movie's principal set, feels more like a hotel than a submarine; its crew spends more time telling stories than working; and the living quarters seem like suites. Never has it appeared to be more fun and comfortable to serve in a metal vessel for months while traveling under water than it does here.

Cary Grant plays Capt. Cassidy, the commanding officer of the Copperfin. Audiences have never seen Grant give as many heroic poses as he does here. Cassidy is a straight-and-narrow captain, not overly tough but serious. He lovingly remembers his wife and two children while writing them letters each night. As a captain, Cassidy encourages his men, and assures them that they will return home safely. He even allows the crew to enjoy music on Christmas Eve, prior to their setting out on a mission.

Cassidy's crew consists of an assortment of newcomers and veterans, of whom the movie wisely focuses on only a handful. There's Wolf (John Garfield), who is never once seen doing any work. Fortunately for the submarine crew, Mike Connors (Tom Tully) uses his experience to keep the ship running. Mike is especially encouraging to the young Tommy Adams (Robert Hutton), who starts his first patrol more concerned about growing a beard than anything else. Leos Deopoulis Gurfelis Jr. (Dane Clark), later to be called "Tin Can" by his fellow seamen, is also making his maiden voyage with a big secret that puts him on a path for revenge. Additionally, the sub's medic, Pills (William Prince), deals with his own anger and frustrations.

As one would expect going into this movie, the men change for the better. Some of them die, but all become heroes. The mission, delivered in a top-secret dispatch that sends the story sailing, is for the USS Copperfin to sneak into Tokyo's harbor and provide Jimmy Doolittle with coordinates for his famous raid. The first half plays much better than the second half, which becomes almost entirely action and suffers as a result of it. None of the special effects hold up, especially the underwater sub shots in which the strings are always visible and director Delmer Daves handles the final battle quite clumsily. Each character makes his quick-witted comments while death is imminent and the scene goes on and on.

But the first half has some nice character moments. There are two very fine performances delivered by Clark and Tully. Clark is a real standout, with anger and heroism entwined into a complex yet cohesive whole. Other actors get some nice moments, as well. Garfield approaches his performance with noticeable zeal and Hutton manages to succeed in making his cornball character believable. None of the characters feel like truthful portrayals of servicemen, but most of the actors make it work regardless. However, the most significant disappointment in the cast is Grant, though it isn't his fault. Roughly 80% of his dialogue is aimed at explaining to American audiences the danger of Imperial Japan and the system of fascism. Not many actors can pull off the feat of delivering both propaganda and a good performance, so it isn't surprising that Grant falls victim to the script.

Watching Destination Tokyo is maybe a pointless endeavor for modern audiences, because it isn't meant for them. The filmmakers wanted to make an enjoyable war movie that convinced the audiences of 1943 that America was winning the war. Perhaps the action sequences made for great suspenseful entertainment when the movie was first released, but today's audiences will be unimpressed. It is very tough to decide whether or not to criticize Destination Tokyo, because it accomplished its goals well enough, but those goals are now a moot point.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Considering the amazing restoration that Warner did last year on 1942's Casablanca, the image here is not what it could be. The movie's original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is presented in a RSDL nonanamorphic transfer. Scratches and print defects are common, but rarely distracting (except for the opening scene). Detail is not particularly strong, but the sets do not appear to contain a lot of detail. A few shots suffer from flickering, most noticeably in outdoor night scenes. A major distraction occurs consistently throughout the climax, where the far right quarter of the screen is more diffused than the rest of the image, with a noticeable line running down the image. On the plus side, the picture has almost no grain except for some stock footage shots used to depict the battle. The black-and-white cinematography's contrast is strong, with blacks constant, and the grayscale makes for a pleasing image.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Continuing with their efforts at film preservation, Warner has released Destination Tokyo with its original mono sound mix. All of the sound comes from the center speaker, with dialogue being audible and well-balanced with sound effects and the original score. The majority of the track contains no hiss, but a hiss is prominent during the surgery scene. There isn't a lot in this mix to get excited about, but it seems to adequately present the movie's original theatrical experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 35 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bringing Up Baby, Gunga Din, My Favorite Wife, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, Night and Day, The Bachelor and Bobby-Soxer, Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House, North by Northwest
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:06m:59s

Extra Extras:
  1. The Gem of the Ocean: a short musical starring Jeanne Aubert and directed by Roy Mack.
Extras Review: Warner has provided the original theatrical trailer of Destination Tokyo as well as eight other Cary Grant titles. There is a Play All function for all nine trailers, combining for a total runtime of 24m:45s. Most of the trailers are not interesting, but the North by Northwest one is something that any movie fan should see because of Alfred Hitchcock's amusing narration.

The other extra in this release is the old musical short, The Gem of the Ocean (21m:48s). There appears to be no connection between this and Destination Tokyo, other than that they are both set at sea. It stars Jeanne Aubert as a passenger on an ocean liner in which an Indian thief blackmails her in exchange for not turning her brother in to the police. The musical numbers are very primitive and the acting is stagy, making for a dull experience.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Destination Tokyo is not at the top of Cary Grant's filmography, so it is kind of surprising that it is being included in the new boxed set Warner is issuing in his honor. The movie suffers because its themes are now dated and although some nice acting helps to make the movie enjoyable, it is not enough. The DVD does not contain any essential extras or outstanding restoration efforts, so wait to catch this title on cable television.

 


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