Sayonara

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Sayonara (words and music: Irving Berlin)

The Irving Berlin song “Sayonara” was introduced in the 1957 feature film, Sayonara. According a biography in AMG’s All Movie Guide, this song was Berlin’s “last film work.”

The song was originally intended for a Broadway musical based upon James A. Michener’s best-selling 1953 novel Sayonara. Director of the film Joshua Logan had approached Irving Berlin in 1953 to write the score for the musical stage adaptation. Berlin wrote “Sayonara” and, according to The Complete Lyrics of Irving Berlin, edited by Robert Kimball and Linda Emmet (2001), p. 460, probably four other songs intended for the stage version of Sayonara before losing interest as the project stalled and then failed to materialize due to legal issues.

“Sayonara” was registered for copyright as an unpublished song on 7 October 1953.

From Wikipedia:

Sayonara is a 1957 color (Technicolor) American film starring Marlon Brando. It tells the story of an American Air Force flier who was an “ace” fighter pilot during the Korean War. Sayonara won four Academy Awards, including acting honors for co-stars Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki.

The film’s screenplay was adapted by Paul Osborn from the novel by James Michener, and it was produced by William Goetz and directed by Joshua Logan. Unlike most 1950s romantic dramas, Sayonara deals squarely with racism and prejudice.[1]

Storyline:

Lloyd “Ace” Gruver, a major and the son of a U.S. Army general, is stationed at Itami Air Force Base (now Osaka International Airport) near Kobe, Japan. He falls in love with a Japanese entertainer who is a performer for a Takarazuka-like theater company, whom he meets through his enlisted crew chief, Airman Kelly.

Kelly is about to wed a Japanese woman, Katsumi, in spite of the disapproval of the United States military, which will not recognize the marriage. The Air Force, including Gruver, is against the marriage. Gruver and Kelly have an argument during which Gruver uses a racial slur to describe Kelly’s fiancee. Gruver eventually apologizes, then agrees to be Kelly’s best man at the wedding.

Kelly suffers further prejudice at the hands of a particularly nasty colonel, pulling extra duty and all the less-attractive assignments. When he and many others who are married to Japanese are ordered back to the States, Kelly realizes he will not be able to take his wife, who is now pregnant.

Finding no other way to be together, Kelly and Katsumi commit double suicide. This strengthens Major Gruver’s resolve to marry his own Japanese lover. When asked by a Stars and Stripes reporter what will he say to both the “big brass” as well as to the Japanese, neither of which will be particularly happy, Major Gruver says, “Tell ’em we said ‘Sayonara.'”

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The words “Sayonara, Japanese goodbye” are sung by an unknown vocalist during the title sequence. Music scored here and throughout the film by Franz Waxman.

Title sequence

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Introduced by Miiko Taka in the film

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Sayonara finale – Franz Waxman

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1957 Sayonara-Gordon MacRae-Capitol F3816-d35-hx15

Gordon MacRae — issued in September 1957 on Capitol F3816, b/w “Never Till Now”

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Teddy Wilson with Joe Lippman’s Orchestra — recorded on 7 October 1957; issued on Verve Records V-10110×45 (V 10110), c/w “Sands of Time”

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Nat King Cole performed the song on the next to last episode (#56) of his TV show, which aired on 10 December 1957

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Carlos Galhardo — with Spanish lyric by Haroldo Barbosa — recorded on 31 January 1958; issued on RCA Victor 80-1955A (matrix 13J2PB0353)

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Natalino Otto con Franco Mojoli e il suo complesso — 1958, with Italian lyric

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Mao Sareth — with Cambodian lyric; issued as the B-side of (Australia) Independance H-2706 — date unknown

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Unknown recording artist and date. The title page reads in Vietnamese, “Hoa Mùa Xuân — Nhật Bản,” which translates as “Spring Flowers — Japan.”

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Yvette Giraud — date unknown

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Tracy Huang — date unknown

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Lyric:

Sayonara — Irving Berlin

Sayonara,
Japanese goodbye —
Whisper sayonara,
But you mustn’t cry
No more we stop to see
Pretty cherry blossoms
No more we ‘neath the tree
Looking at the sky
Sayonara, sayonara,
Goodbye

Sayonara,
If it must be so
Whisper sayonara,
Smiling as we go
No more we stop to see
Pretty cherry blossoms
No more we ‘neath the tree
Looking at the sky
Sayonara, sayonara,
Goodbye

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Miyoshi Umeki, awarded Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Katsumi in the 1957 film, had recorded a song called “Sayonara (Let’s Say Goodbye)” in 1953 and performed it that year in her debut feature film Seishun Jazz musume.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Arlene
    Nov 06, 2015 @ 12:19:18

    takes me back to my teen age years

    Reply

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