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Rebel, not without a cause

July 10, 2004

PATRICK AZADIAN

This is the first of two parts.

In April, I finally saw "On the Waterfront," featuring Marlon

Brando, on the silver screen. I was thankful to the Alex Film Society

for this unique opportunity. In my excitement, I joined the society,

and as if "On the Waterfront" was not enough of a reward, I was

gifted a DVD of another Brando movie, "Sayonara," for becoming a

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member.

In "Sayonara," Brando stars as Maj. Lloyd Gruver; it is a tale of

an American stationed in Kobe, Japan, during the Korean War. At the

time, the military regulations forbade marriages between American

troops and Japanese women. Gruver initially supported the military's

regulations but eventually falls in love with a local showgirl, named

Hana-ogi. By the end of the movie, Gruver is in direct conflict with

the military's regulations as he proposes to his Japanese darling.

*

August of 1953 was a particularly warm summer month in Glendale.

The U.S., North Korea and China had just agreed to end the Korean

War. The American troops were gradually making their way home to

scenes far less jubilant than the ones their compatriots encountered

after World War II.

Maj. Lloyd Gruver and his bride, Hana-ogi, arrived at the Glendale

Greyhound station at 400 Cerritos Ave. Gruver's buddy, George, was

awaiting them at curbside. George had a healthy dose of envy for

Gruver's ability to serve his country. George had flat feet; the

military examiners had rejected him. But he was determined to pay his

dues by helping the Gruvers settle into their new home in Glendale.

George spotted Gruver carrying two pieces of large luggage. He

darted away from his 1952 white Oldsmobile Super 88 and greeted

Gruver in a manner reserved for Russian party officials from the

Caucasus. The two men embraced for a few seconds before George

smacked Gruver's cheeks with his trademark kisses. Years of service

overseas, and Gruver still had not gotten used to the idea of being

kissed by a male friend.

"Welcome home, Gruvers."

"Thank you for picking us up, George."

"My pleasure; that's the least I could do. Sorry about the

weather; it is unusually hot."

"Not too bad. Oh, George, this is my wife, Hana-ogi."

"Nice to meet you. You are even more beautiful than Gruver had

described."

"Thank you, you are kind."

"Let me take those," George pleads as he bends forward and extends

his arms to take charge of the luggage.

"That's OK, George. I got it."

"Let me have them, if you don't want me to knock you around, right

here in front of your wife!"

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