Go for Broke!

I got up and went to the office. I tried to make progress with the life insurance claim. I went to a photo shop to get a statement notarized. I also went to buy some groceries. When I returned home for lunch, I watched “Go for Broke!” It was a war movie with Van Johnson playing an officer leading the Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Europe. I thought he was quite good in the picture, although it seemed like almost a miracle that a movie like this could be made at all. I never knew much about the writer and director Robert Pirosh. He won an Academy Award for “Battleground,” and he was nominated for another Oscar for “Go for Broke!” The script showed a thoughtfulness about people and their situations and emotions. He died on December 25, 1989. The cast had real Japanese American veterans about seven or eight years older than they were in the real early scenes in the story. Most of them still looked young, though. I think most of them showed that they were not real actors, rather like Harold Russell in “The Best Years of Our Lives.” When Lt. Grayson first arrives on the scene, this band of soldiers really needs to be brought into shape. Grayson is almost like Patton early on. I was never sure what good it did to clean the dust from obscure reaches of the barracks when you’re going off to war in the mud and rain and stink. Grayson at first doesn’t understand what a Japanese American is. A lot of people can’t tell the difference between Asian and Asian American groups. They think that if you’re not white and not black, then you can’t speak English. I liked the fact that this movie went into some unusual territory and showed that the military had some warts. It didn’t have a John Wayne type of hero. They went through some things like getting ukulele strings or taking a pig along as a pet. You get to feel that these are real people. One of the funny moments was seeing two guys help their buddies get over a wall during training. One thing that disturbed me was seeing everyone smoke and trade cigarettes. We actually don’t see any fighting until about 35 minutes into the movie. The battle scenes aren’t what I would describe as fantastic, maybe because of a low budget, but I’ll always remember the scene with the mortar and the helmet. It made me think briefly of “Apocalypse Now.” The movie touches on the fact that Japanese Americans were dragged off to places like Tule Lake and Manzanar. We never see the families. Tommy was one of the memorable characters. This movie existed many years before “Glory.” This movie made some money, and I wondered who went out to watch it. I thought that people wouldn’t have rushed out to see another war movie in 1951. It was funny that Johnson didn’t find out what the word “bakatare” meant until late in the movie. You’d think he’d have a good idea after a short time, but I guess people are oblivious about anything Asian. People didn’t pronounce the names Ohara and O’Hara differently, which didn’t seem realistic. The oversized uniforms were funny, but I also thought of how sports jerseys are too big for many people. Kids are not necessarily going to grow up to be like The Incredible Hulk. I didn’t mind seeing Van Johnson get top billing because he was the also star in the movie. The movies I remember Van Johnson for are “The Caine Mutiny” and “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” He lived for a long time. This movie went into the public domain in 1979, which was rather curious. I guess that’s why the disc was made by VCI Entertainment. I think maybe I should put out an edition of this movie. I felt that Robert Pirosh deserves credit for a sympathetic movie. It’s more perceptive about Asian Americans than anything I saw from either the 1950s or the 1960s. I wondered how the members of the 442 managed to deal with the atmosphere after the war. I imagined that they had problems for decades afterwards. I liked this movie more than many war movies I’ve seen in my life. I thought it was better than “The Monuments Men.” My class went OK. At least a few students asked smart questions. What happened to the security guard with the dental problem? One of my fellow teachers offered sympathy in regard to my brother. He said that his mother was 84 years old. After I returned home, I watched “Paul McCartney in Red Square.” The concert was like the one I attended in April 2002. I liked hearing “Penny Lane.” I wonder how many Russians have learned English. I heard one Russian man that he finally bought all the Beatles albums in 1984. How many fans in the audience didn’t know the words to the songs? Vladimir Putin was icy, not singing along to any of the songs. It looked like Paul was about to get arrested for riding a bicycle in Red Square. I watched the news. The Warriors managed to win another game in Portland. Dennis O’Donnell said that the Warriors hadn’t won the Pacific Division since “Silly Love Songs” was a Number One hit, “Rocky” was in the movie theatres, and Jimmy Carter was elected president. I did watch the first Monty Python episode, and I liked it for the deadly joke. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the characters. The Avengers episode had Diana Rigg in it. The Bold Ones had the New Doctors, making me miss Hal Holbrook. Bill O’Reilly was a guest on Letterman, but I couldn’t see still to see Letterman interview him. I did not especially want to stay up too late for James Corden. My feeling was that he wouldn’t do too well in the role of talk show host. Some of the people who died on March 25 include Claude Debussy (1918), Nancy Walker (1992), and Buck Owens (2006). Today is a birthday for Elton John (68), Paul Michael Glaser (72), Aretha Franklin (73), Gloria Steinem (81), and James Lovell (87). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 25, “Tarzan the Ape Man” starring Johnny Weissmuller, was released in 1932. In 1982, “Cagney and Lacey” premiered on CBS. In 1982, the television special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” was filmed, showing Michael Jackson first public moonwalk. In 1986, “Perfect Strangers” premiered on ABC.

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