Published on July 12th, 2010 | by Chris


Destination Tokyo (1943)

Reviewed by:
On July 12, 2010
Last modified:October 5, 2012


Destination Tokyo is a flag-waving, patriotism-inducing, feel-good, picture made for the folks back home

Destination Tokyo (1943)Yeah, sometimes you just have to kick back, and take in the classics for what they are.  That is to say, undeniable products of their time.  1943's Destination Tokyo is definitely one of those films.

I'd go as far as saying that Destination Tokyo is one of the prime examples of your typical US wartime "propaganda" films.  Not as bad as some I've seen, but definitely right up there on the list.

The fictionalized plot goes something like this.  The submarine USS Copperfin, led by Captain Cassidy (Cary Grant), is dispatched on Christmas Eve, presumably 1942.  Its mission?  To sneak past the nets directly into Tokyo Bay, and dispatch a landing party to provide weather reports in front of a Doolittle-style carrier-based bombing run over Tokyo.  And if targets present themselves on the way out (which they do) to fire at will (which they also do.)  As a typical wartime action picture its not all that bad, really.  It doesn't have quite the submarine tension of other movies, but its not bad.

What's really curious to me about Destination Tokyo is the portrayal of the sailors on board the Copperfin.  They all seem to be a bunch of happy-go-lucky types, more or less enjoying themselves and "palling" around in a happy friendly "aw shucks" style.  Sure there's danger (cue music) and sure enough one of them is killed by a downed Japanese pilot (cue music again), one comes down with appendicitis and is operated on by the medic (cue music!)... but overall they seem to have it pretty damned good.  Just the kind of thing all those mothers, wives, fathers, and kids back home would like to think is going on.  Compared to the alternative, that is.  Right down to the decoration-filled (we are on a space-limited submarine, right?) Christmas party.

Another thing you can't help but notice is the outright fear-mongering aimed at the Japanese that's portrayed here.  Wow, is all I can say.  "There isn't even a word for love in their language."  "They're taught to fight and kill from the age of five!"  Etc., etc.  I can understand the sentiment behind such propaganda, and the culture that created it, but looking back from this day-and-age, its pretty, well, unbelievable.

In short, Destination Tokyo is a flag-waving, patriotism-inducing, feel-good, picture made for the folks back home, during a period where we needed to feel good about what we were doing.... with the above caveats of course.  And hey, its got Cary Grant in it, so it can't be all bad, right?

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0035799/
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The offbeat casting of Cary Grant as a submarine captain pays off in this tense WWII underwater picture; he ably trades in his sophistication for the sweaty close quarters of an action movie. The mission? Infiltrate the mined harbor of Tokyo itself, a feat bookended by a brief confrontation in the Aleutians and a depth-charge chase through the open sea...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: Warner Brothers
Manufacturer: WarnerBrothers
Original Release Date:
  • Various


  • Factory sealed DVD


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Destination Tokyo (1943) Chris

Summary: Destination Tokyo is a flag-waving, patriotism-inducing, feel-good, picture made for the folks back home


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

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