Cinema of yesteryear Blood on the Sun | Sunday Observer
Retro reviews:

Cinema of yesteryear Blood on the Sun

17 January, 2021

Imperial Japan was a great economic and military force to be reckoned with at the turn of the 20th century. It was the Asian power seeking global control. On the other side of the globe, another power was preparing to spread its wings; the United States of America. Blood on the Sun is an Academy Award winning crime thriller movie which is set in the background of international political power struggles which eventually lead to World War II.

Released in 1945, Blood on the Sun is also categorised as an ‘American War film’, directed by Frank Lloyd, movie stars James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney in the leads. The story is based on what is called a fictional history behind the Tanaka Memorial document. A document was considered a top military secret of Japan that supposedly laid out a plan for military domination of Asia and parts of the West.

Controversial story

The story starts in Tokyo in 1929, as the American owned newspaper The Tokyo Chronicle carries a controversial story about the existence of the “Tanaka Memorial”. It is said to be a Japanese plan designed by the Prime Minister of Japan, Baron Giichi Tanaka, played by John Emery to conquer the world. Alarmed over the news, there is civil and Government concern about the newspaper’s activities, the Japanese secret police visit The Tokyo Chronicle’s office.

The Editor of the newspaper, Nick Condon played by James Cagney, refuses to reveal his source. Intrigued by the response of the Japanese to the ‘rumour’ that Condon based his story on, Condon assigns one of his trusted reporters, Ollie Miller, to further research the subject, and to get to the bottom of it.

However, the truth and depth of the conspiracy begin to surface as Miller and his wife soon begin preparations to leave Japan for the US. The Imperial Secret Police in Japan believe Miller has discovered the details of the plan and arrange to have him killed.

When Nick Condon goes to Miller’s cabin on the ship to bid him goodbye, he finds Miller’s wife Edith strangled. Condon then narrowly misses another woman exiting the cabin, and failing to catch hold of her, he does notice a strikingly large ruby ring on her hand. Later that night, Miller is shot outside Condon’s house by an unknown assassin. But before Miller dies, he gives to Condon, a copy of the Tanaka Memorial plan.


What follows is a series of events that entangles Condon in a web of murder, corruption, betrayal and romance as he strives against all obstacles that seek to thwart his goal of revealing the truth about the Tanaka document to the West. A key turning point in the story is when Condon meets Iris Hilliard, played by Sylvia Sidney, an elegant and cultured half-Chinese woman who shows sympathies towards Condon’s cause.

However, as the two become romantically involved, Condon catches onto her real objectives and comes across a ring identical to the one he saw on the female figure who fled the cabin in which Edith Miller was found killed. But Condon and Hilliard are attracted to one another to the point their paths converge. Hilliard though a spy for Baron Tanaka ends up being the means by which Condon finally achieves his mission.

A retro classic with the charm of an old thriller mixed with layers of romance and exoticness in its narrative, and elements of old form theatricality when projecting ‘action scenes’, ‘Blood on the Sun’ will prove to be a vintage movie that offers an appreciable experience for movie buffs of the new generation, who are interested in classics of Hollywood.