The Courageous Coward (1919)

  • AllMovie Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

Share on

Sessue Hayakawa was making the transition from Oriental villain to sympathetic hero in this picture. The plot is a combination of racial stereotypes that were common in the U.S. during the silent era and real-life situations experienced by Asians living Stateside. Hayakawa plays Suki Iota, a student who, while born and bred in America, wants a wife with traditional Japanese values. She appears in the form of Rei (Tsuru Aoki, Hayakawa's real-life wife), a singer who becomes known as the Japanese Nightingale. When Suki goes away to study law, Rei becomes Americanized and gets involved with Tom Kirby (Francis MacDonald). Coincidentally, Tom's father (George Hernandez) appoints Suki assistant district attorney. Dangerous gambler Slick Davis is being prosecuted for murder, and Suki is receiving threats. Tom Kirby tells the young DA that he was the killer, so he halts the prosecution, but because of his boss and Rei, he won't say why. As a result, Suki is labeled a coward. Eventually the truth comes out, Suki wins, and Rei takes on Tom's defense.