Come See the Paradise

Come See the Paradise
Come See the Paradise

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Parker
Produced by Robert F. Colesberry
Nellie Nugiel
Written by Alan Parker
Starring Dennis Quaid
Tamlyn Tomita
Sab Shimono
Shizuko Hoshi
Stan Egi
Music by Randy Edelman
Cinematography Michael Seresin
Editing by Gerry Hambling
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) December 23, 1990
Running time 138 minutes
Country United States
Language English
some dialogue in Japanese

Come See the Paradise is a 1990 film directed by Alan Parker, starring Dennis Quaid and Tamlyn Tomita. Set before and during World War II, the film depicts the treatment of Japanese people in America following the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent loss of civil liberties within the framework of a love story.


Plot summary

In 1936, Jack McGurn (Quaid) is a motion picture projectionist, involved in a campaign of harassment against non-union theaters in New York City. One such attack turns fatal, as one of his fellow union thugs starts a fire. McGurn's boss, knowing that the feelings of guilt would likely cause Jack to go to the police, urges him to leave the area. Jack moves to Los Angeles where his brother Gerry lives. Jack's role as a "sweatshop lawyer" strains an already-rocky relationship with Gerry who is willing to have any job, barely keeping his family afloat during the Great Depression.

Taking the name McGann, Jack finds a job as a projectionist (ironically, non-union) in a movie theater run by a Japanese-American family. He falls in love with Lily (Tomita), his Japanese boss's daughter. Forbidden to see one another by her Issei parents and banned from marrying by California law, the couple elopes to Seattle, where they marry and have a daughter, Mini.

When World War II breaks out, Lily and their daughter are caught up in the Japanese-American internment, rounded up and sent to Manzanar. Jack, away on a trip, is drafted into the United States Army with no chance to help his family prepare for their imprisonment.

Finally visiting the camp, he arranges a private meeting with his wife's father, telling him that he has gone AWOL and wants to stay with them, whatever they have to go through. They are HIS family now and he belongs with them, but he's not sure what he should do. The older man counsels him to return to the Army, and says that he now believes that Jack is truly in love with his wife, and a worthy husband.

Returning, ready to face his punishment for desertion, he is met by FBI agents, who have identified "McGann" as being the McGurn wanted for his part in the arson of years before.

The story is told in flashback as Lily tells the now pre-adolescent Mini (King) about the father and the life that she barely remembers, as the two of them are walking to a rural train station. The train arrives and they reunite with Jack, who has served his time in prison and finally is returning to his family.


The title of the movie came from a line of a poem by Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. Writer Alan Parker was unable to find the original poem and wrote his own poem before writing the script to try and say what the film would say:[1]

We all dream our American dreams
When we're awake and when we sleep
So much hope that grief belies
Far beyond the lies and sighs
Because dreams are free
And so are we

Come See the Paradise



Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars.[2] Rotten Tomatoes's rating was 67% with audience rating of 60%.[3]

The film was entered into the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.[4]

Home video

The VHS tape version was released March 12, 1992.

The DVD version was released June 6, 2006 and included a 2-sided disc:

  • Side A: Movie, audio commentary by writer/director Sir Art Parker
  • Side B: Images of Come See the Paradise featurette, The Making of the Film essay by Sir Art Parker, Rabbit in the Moon 1999 documentary,[5] theatrical trailers

Soundtrack Usage

A track from the film's score by Randy Edelman titled "Fire in a Brooklyn Theater" became an oft used musical cue for the trailers of other films, including those for A Few Good Men, Thirteen Days, Clear and Present Danger , Patriot Games , The Sum of All Fears and Devil In A Blue Dress .[6]


External links

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