Sessue Hayakawa was the biggest name in The Big Wave, but the central story centers around the younger, lesser-known actors Juzo Itami and Mickey Curtis. Itami and Curtis play lifelong chums, happily ingoring all racial and cultural barriers imposed by Japanese and American society. All this goodwill comes to an end when both boys fall in love with the same girl (Koji Shitara). Big Wave was based on a novel by Pearl Buck, a longtime specialist in "Eastern" dramaturgy (see The Good Earth and Demon Seed). The film was one of the first Japanese/US coproductions, with the behind-the-scenes personnel fairly evenly divided between representatives of both countries.
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