Tokyo Joe (1949): Heisler’s Film Noir, Starring Humphrey Bogart

Stuart Heisler directed Tokyo Joe a crime film noir, starring Humphrey Bogart, Alexander Knox, Florence Marly, and Sessue Hayakawa.

This was Heisler’s first of two features starring Bogart; the other, Chain Lightning, was released in 1950.

After World War II, ex-Colonel Joe Barrett returns to Tokyo to see if anything left of his pre-war bar and gambling joint (“Tokyo Joe’s”) after the bombing. Amazingly, it is more or less intact, and run by his old friend Ito.

Joe is shocked to learn from Ito that his wife Trina is still alive. She has divorced Joe and is married to Mark Landis, a lawyer working in the U.S. occupation of Japan. Joe’s daughter, Anya, who’s 7, was born when Trina was in internment camp after Joe’s departure from Japan, before Pearl Harbor.

Joe starts up an air freight business, fronting for Baron Kimura, former head of the Japanese secret police. Joe believes Kimura will smuggle penicillin and other meds into the country, but he actually intends to smuggle in fugitive war criminals to start secret anti-American movement. When he balks, Kimura kidnaps Anya to force him . Joe rescues Anya and foils the baron’s plot, but he is seriously wounded. The film ends without revealing whether he survives.


Humphrey Bogart as Joseph “Joe” Barrett
Alexander Knox as Mark Landis
Florence Marly as Trina Pechinkov Landis
Sessue Hayakawa as Baron Kimura
Jerome Courtland as Danny
Gordon Jones as Idaho
Teru Shimada as Ito
Hideo Mori as Kanda


Directed by Stuart Heisler
Produced by Robert Lord
Written by Steve Fisher, Walter Doniger
Screenplay by Cyril Hume, Bertram Millhauser
Music by George Antheil
Cinematography: Charles Lawton Jr.
Edited by Viola Lawrence
Distributed by Columbia
Release date: October 26, 1949
Running time: 89 minutes


TCM showed this movie on April 26, 2020.