New article about Sessue Hayakawa and Asian men in American cinema

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Stephen Whitty has written an article for about Sessue Hayakawa and the depiction of Asian men in American cinema. An excerpt:

Today, Asian actors are coldly marginalized. Yet 90 years ago, one of Hollywood's biggest stars was Japanese. He co-starred opposite white actresses. He even ran his own production company -- a first for a minority performer.

His career as an American leading man ended before the silents did. He recaptured his old celebrity only once, decades later, getting an Oscar nomination for playing the Colonel in "The Bridge on the River Kwai."

Duke University Press published Miyao's "Sessue Hayakawa: Silent Cinema and Transnational Stardom" last year. Harrington Park's Milestone Films has just released a restored DVD of Hayakawa's delicate 1919 romance, "The Dragon Painter." And looking at these old films, one only realizes how backward the present seems.

"I think if Sessue Hayakawa were alive today, he'd be shaking his head," imagines Jeff Adachi, director of "The Slanted Screen," a documentary on Asian stereotypes. "'He'd be saying, 'I laid all the groundwork -- what happened?'"

Click here to read the whole thing.

Via Lisa at