Hashimura Togo (1917)

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In the first few decades of the 1900s, ethnic humor was very popular, and stereotyped behavior that was vilified in later times was considered acceptable entertainment. That, in part, explains the widespread affection that Americans had for Wallace Irwin's fictional Japanese schoolboy. The broken English of Irwin's Hashimura Togo appeared in newspapers across the country and eventually a comedy film was built around the character. And who else could play him but Hollywood's favorite token Oriental, Sessue Hayakawa (who happened to be an extremely talented actor, racial considerations aside)? The plot bears little relation to anything Irwin wrote: The dutiful Hashimura takes responsibility for a transgression committed by his wastrel brother and is disowned by his family. He goes to the States and hires himself out as a butler to Mrs. Reynolds (Mabel Van Buren). Hashimura is devoted to Mrs. Reynolds' daughter, Corinne (Florence Vidor), who is in love with Dr. Garland (Tom Forman). But Carlos Anthony, the trustee to the late Mr. Reynolds' estate, tricks Corinne into believing that she has to marry him in order to save the family fortune. With the help of a reporter (Raymond Hatton), Hashimura exposes Anthony's evil plot and gets to the church in time to stop the wedding. Corinne is happily reunited with Dr. Garland, while Hashimura, who has been exonerated of the wrongdoing back home, sails back to be with his own sweetheart, O Noto San (Margaret Loomis).