Stopover Tokyo

Stopover Tokyo

Theatrical poster
Directed by Richard L. Breen
Produced by Walter Reisch
Written by Richard L. Breen
Walter Reisch
Based on novel by John P. Marquand
Starring Robert Wagner
Joan Collins
Edmond O'Brien
Ken Scott
Music by Paul Sawtell
Cinematography Charles G. Clarke
Edited by Marjorie Fowler
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 1957 (1957-12)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,055,000[1]
Box office $1,350,000 (US rentals)[2]

Stopover Tokyo is a 1957 American espionage drama directed by Richard L. Breen and starring Robert Wagner, Joan Collins, Edmond O'Brien and Ken Scott. Filmed in Japan in CinemaScope, the film is set in Tokyo and follows a US counterintelligence agent working to foil a communist assassination plot.

The film is based very loosely on the final Mr. Moto novel by John P. Marquand. The biggest change is that Mr. Moto is entirely cut from the film.

It was the sole feature film directed by Richard Breen, a distinguished screenwriter.


US Intelligence Agent Mark Fannon (Robert Wagner) is sent to Tokyo on a routine courier mission but soon uncovers communist George Underwood’s (Edmond O'Brien) plot to assassinate the American High Commissioner (Larry Keating).

While there he meets Welsh receptionist (Joan Collins), in whom fellow agent Tony Barrett (Ken Scott) has a romantic interest. This causes animosity between the two.

An attempt is made on Mark's life in a steam room and his local contact, Nobika, is assassinated. Lt. Afumi of the Tokyo police department escorts Tina and Mark to the scene of Nobika's death and shows them a note he found in Nobika's pocket.

Mark and Tina are detained by police. Mark phones Tony in Formosa to inquire about the name of the village in which Nobika lived. Mark goes there and tries to find classified information concealed in magazines. He meets Nobika's daughter, Koko.


Original Novel

In the 1950s Marquand had not written a Moto novel in fifteen years. He received an offer to write one from Stuart Rose, the editor of the Saturday Evening Post, who offered Marquand $5,000 to travel to Japan and an advance of $75,000.[3]

He decided to write a new one because "I wanted to see whether or not I was still able to write a mystery, one of the most interesting forms of literary craftsmanship, if not art, that exists."[4]

Marquand visited Japan for a month and wrote up the story towards the end of 1956. Mr Moto was not the actual hero of the novel - that role went to secret agent John Rhyce, who is sent to Tokyo to combat a communist plot along with fellow agent Ruth Bogart.[5]

The novel was serialised in the Post from 24 November 1956 to 12 January 1957 under the title "Rendezvous in Tokyo". The magazine's editors did not like the story's unhappy ending but Marquand insisted upon it. The novel itself was published in early 1957. [3][6] It was a best seller and was, on the whole, well received, a writer on the New York Times calling it "superlative".[4][7]

The novel would later be re-issued under the titles Right You Are, Mr Moto and The Last Case of Mr Moto.[8]


20th Century Fox, who made the original Peter Lorre Moto movies, bought the film rights to the story in April 1956, prior to publication. Sam Engel was originally going to produce and William Holden and Jennifer Jones were mentioned as possible stars.[9]

The movie ended up being the first of a proposed series of movies from writers Richard Breen and Walter Reisch; Breen was to direct and Reisch to produce. Robert Stack was meant to play the lead but he refused the role because he did not want to go to Japan.[10] Stack was suspended by the studio and the role given to Robert Wagner.[11]

Cinematographer Charles G. Clarke made expansive use of location shooting in Kyoto, a sacred Shinto city which was only lightly bombed in World War II and taken off the nuclear bombing target list (from its original top listing) due to the efforts of Henry Stimson who argued for the preservation of its cultural assets. <Cary, Otis>

Actor Ken Scott was injured in a scene when Edmond O'Brien shot a prop gun at him and a blank cartridge hit his face. There was no serious damage.[12]

Fox were so impressed with ten-year-old star Reiko Oyama they signed her to a long term contract.[13]


Collins and Wagner promoted the film with a nationwide publicity tour.[14]

However it was not particularly successful at the box office.

The Chicago Daily Tribute praised the location photography but said the film "starts suspensefully, but ends limply".[15] The Los Angeles Times liked the scenery which they thought "helps overcome somewhat routine plot development" but felt Wagner "goes about his spying work energetically although it is thought that this type of character isn't exactly his cup of tea."[16]

Breen and Resich were later reported as working on another film for Wagner, The Far Alert, about NATO naval flyers.[17] However this film was never made.

A year after the movie came out Marquand told the New York Times that:

Mr Moto was my literary disgrace. I wrote about him to get shoes for the baby. I don't say I didn't have a pleasant time writing about him and he returned in Stopover Tokyo but I don't think I'll ever meet him again. Moto was an entirely different piece of writing from a so-called serious novel. He really became famous when they took him up in the movies. In book for he has never really sold well - never more than 5,000 to 6,000 copies. I can't say why people remember him, except they must remember the serials and pictures.[18]

In 1959 Wagner disparaged the film:

When I started at Fox in 1950 they were making sixty five pictures a year. Now they're lucky if they make thirty. There was a chance to get some training in B pictures. Then TV struck. Everything went big and they started sticking me into Cinemascope spectacles. One day, smiling Joe Juvenile with no talent was doing a role intended for John Wayne. That was in a dog called Stopover Tokyo. I've really had to work to keep up.[19]


  1. Solomon, p251
  2. Solomon, p227
  3. 1 2 The Complete Mr. Moto Film Phile: A Casebook By Howard M. Berlin Wildside Press LLC, 2005 p 27-28 accessed 9 March 2015
  4. 1 2 Welcome, Mr. Moto By ANTHONY BOUCHER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Jan 1957: 232.
  5. John P. Marquand's Mr. Moto Returns in a New Spellbinder Butcher, Fanny. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 20 Jan 1957: b1.
  6. Books and Authors: Marquand Thriller New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Dec 1956: 37.
  7. IN AND OUT OF BOOKS: Change Goodby Takes Winners By HARVEY BREIT. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 Feb 1957: BR5.
  8. The Mr Moto Page accessed 9 March 2015
  9. Sam Engel Seeks Holden, Jennifer Jones for New Film Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 13 Apr 1956: b8.
  10. CASTING TROUBLES BESET FOX FILMS: Dailey and Dana Wynter Give up Roles in Wald Pictures-- Robert Stack Suspended By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 18 Apr 1957: 34.
  11. FRED ZINNEMANN SIGNS MISS KERR: Director Acquires Star for 'Sundowners,' His First Independent Film Effort Wagner Replaces Stack By OSCAR GODBOUT Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Apr 1957: 16.
  12. Ex-Screen Star Alice Lake Jailed on Drunk Charge Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 June 1957: 3.
  13. Japan Shirley Temple Contracted; Canadian Story Will Star More Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 June 1957: B9
  14. 'Stopover Tokyo' Stars Going on Publicity Tours Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 Nov 1957: B10.
  15. Film Keyed to Beauty of Japan: "STOPOVER: TOKYO" TINEE, MAE. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 08 Nov 1957: a5.
  16. 'Stopover Tokyo' Tale of Intrigue in Orient Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 Nov 1957: A7.
  17. Looking at Hollywood: Film to Co-Star Murphy, Borgnine Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 30 Sep 1957: b14.
  18. The World of John P. Marquand By LEWIS NICHOLSNEWBURYPORT, MASS.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 Aug 1958: BR4.
  19. PRESENTING A HAPPY 'ACT': WAGNER AND WOOD By THOMAS McDONALDHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 June 1959: X7.
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