Blood on the Sun is a 1945 American war film directed by Frank Lloyd and starring James Cagney and Sylvia Sidney. The film is based on a fictional history behind the Tanaka Memorial document.
The film won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction for a Black & White (Wiard Ihnen, A. Roland Fields) film in 1945.
In 1929, the existence of the “Tanaka Memorial,” a Japanese plan devised by Baron Giichi Tanaka (John Emery) to conquer the world, is published in the Tokyo Chronicle. The Japanese secret police visit the Chronicle’s headquarters, interrogating editor Nick Condon (James Cagney) about the source, which he refuses to disclose. Intrigued at the heavy-handed response to the rumor, Condon assigns Ollie Miller (Wallace Ford), a Chronicle reporter, to further research the plan.
Some time later, Ollie and his wife Edith (Rosemary DeCamp) make plans to leave Japan on a ship. Believing he discovered the details of the plan, the secret police arrange to have him killed. When Condon goes to his cabin on the ship, he finds Edith strangled, and narrowly misses another woman exiting the cabin; he glimpses a ruby ring on her hand. Later that night, Ollie is shot outside Condon’s house. Before he dies, he gives to Condon a copy of the Tanaka Memorial plan. As the secret police, led by Captain Oshima (John Halloran), arrive, Condon hides the document behind a portrait of Emperor Hirohito. Revering the portrait, Oshima does not search it, but ransacks the rest of his house and subdues him when he resists.
Condon wakes the next morning in a prison cell. The Japanese police have fabricated a story about him having a drunken party the previous night and fixed his house to hide the damage, and the document is missing. Condon’s search for it is interrupted by a courier inviting him to Baron Tanaka’s home. At Tanaka’s home, the Baron subtly threatens Condon to return the document, and Condon realizes that Tanaka does not have it and someone else took it.
Suspecting that the other party consists of Japanese anti-war liberals interested in sneaking the document out of the country, Condon publicly announces his intention to return to the United States. That evening, he meets Iris Hilliard (Sylvia Sidney), a half-Chinese woman. Seeing a ring on her finger, he suspects she was the woman he saw fleeing Edith’s cabin, but the two are attracted to one another. Unbeknownst to him, Iris is a spy for Baron Tanaka, tasked with retrieving the plan.
Disgruntled at being passed over as Condon’s replacement as editor, Cassell (Rhys Williams), an unscrupulous reporter, inadvertently reveals that Tanaka ordered him to introduce Iris to Condon. Armed with this knowledge, Condon confronts Iris, who confesses that, while she works for Tanaka, she is loyal to Japan’s liberal faction and, having no fear of the Emperor’s portrait, she herself took the Tanaka Memorial from his house. Condon takes the document and leaves. Eavesdropping on their conversation, the secret police imprison Iris, but she escapes. Disgraced by his failure, Tanaka commits seppuku.
Before Condon leaves for the United States, Iris contacts him, asking to meet on a fishing dock. Evading the secret police tailing him, Condon meets her on the dock. She is accompanied by Prince Tatsugi (Frank Puglia), a liberal within the Japanese government. Aware that the government will claim the document is a forgery, Tatsu places his seal on it, legitimizing it. The police arrive and kill Tatsugi; Condon gives the document to Iris, who flees in a fishing boat, and stays behind to delay the policemen.
Defeating Captain Oshima at judo and evading the secret police, Condon arrives outside the embassy. He is shot and incapacitated, but when the Japanese search him, they are unable to find the document. As an American diplomat arrives to help Condon, the head of the secret police asks him to forgive his enemy. As he enters the embassy, Condon replies, “Sure, forgive your enemies – but first, get even!”
James Cagney as Nick Condon
Sylvia Sidney as Iris Hilliard
Porter Hall as Arthur Bickett
John Emery as Premier Giichi Tanaka
Robert Armstrong as Col. Hideki Tojo
Wallace Ford as Ollie Miller
Rosemary DeCamp as Edith Miller
John Halloran as Capt. Oshima
Leonard Strong as Hijikata
James Bell as Charley Sprague
Marvin Miller as Yamada
Rhys Williams as Joseph Cassell
Frank Puglia as Prince Tatsugi
Hugh Beaumont as Johnny Clarke
Emmett Vogan as Johnson