Andrew Hughes: A life in (Japanese) Pictures
Posted August 1, 2013 by Kevin P.
With the exception of the late Robert Dunham, to whom major roles in Toho’s Space Monster Dogora and Godzilla vs. Megalon assured significant recognition among genre fans, one of the most familiar – or at the very least persistent – Western faces in Japanese cinema of the 60s and 70s may be that of Andrew Hughes. Born in 1908 in the Republic of Turkey, precious little is publicly known of the rest of Hughes’ life beyond his numerous film appearances. Much of the biographical information related (regurgitated?) here was gleaned from the actor’s page on the Japanese wikipedia, which offers no sources (naturally). As such, what scant details are offered should be taken with a grain of salt, and I encourage anyone with any information which corroborates or contradicts that presented here to either comment below or email me privately.
A career businessman in Turkey with some small-time acting experience as an extra, it was Hughes’ fortuitous business ties to Japan that led to his numerous appearances in film there. To the best of my knowledge his earliest Japanese film appearance was in Shintoho’s 1959 effort The Greater East Asia War and International Trial (大東亜戦争と国際裁判, dir. KOMORI Kiyoshi), which dramatized the post-war International Military Tribunal for the Far East and featured Hughes in a minor role as General MacArthur. The following year Hughes would begin his lengthy relationship with Toei Company with a half minute one-shot turn as an American military spokesman in HIDAKA Shigeaki’s World War III: 41 Hours of Terror (第三次世界大戦 四十一時間の恐怖). The part is subtitled, unlike many of his roles to come, and remains one of the few performances in which Hughes can be heard speaking in his native (and heavily Brit-accented) English.
Hughes makes a plea for rationality as nuclear war looms in Toei’s World War III: 41 Hours of Terror
Hughes’s association with Toei would lead to his most substantial, if not his most prominent, roles, both under the auspices of pop cinema auteur SATÔ Hajime. The best known among them, by virtue of the film’s significant worldwide distribution, is his turn as the kidnapped Dr. Howard in the wonderfully outrageous 1966 Japanese / American co-production Terror Beneath the Sea (海底大戦争), in which he starred alongside the great Sonny Chiba and fellow Western import Peggy Neal.
Having made a narrow escape from the clutches of Terror‘s mad-science mastermind and the rebellion of his half-fish humanoid slaves, Hughes went on to co-star with Chiba again in Satô’s The Golden Bat (黄金バット), a downright amazing low-budget high-impact superhero outing released later the same year. Therein he suffers through yet another kidnapping as Dr. Pearl, leader of a super-secret super-science operation tasked with defending the Earth from the evil scheming of a maniacal rat-man from space. Hughes is as competent as always as Dr. Pearl, obviously enjoying every outlandish turn the plot takes, but the part reaches stratospheric heights of awesomeness courtesy of an ultra-masculine Japanese overdub that must be heard to be believed.
Toei wasn’t the only studio with which Hughes fostered a lasting relationship. Toho Studios, for whom he first worked in 1959 (appearing in OKAMOTO Kihachi’s Boss of the Underworld / 暗黒街の顔役), would supply the vast majority of the actor’s credits as well as many of his most-seen roles. Bit parts in the likes of King Kong Escapes and Destroy All Monsters would serve as his introduction to plenty of golden-age tokusatsu fans, but it’s his downright nasty turn as the Australian prime minister in the massive disaster film Submersion of Japan (日本沈没, dir. MORITANI Shiro) that I find most memorable among his roles for the company.
According to the actor’s Japanese wikipedia page (corroboration, anyone?), he offered a more practical service to Toho as well – that of interpreter between Japanese production staff and the Western extras with which they often worked. The page notes MATSUBAYASHI Shûe’s big budget anti-nuke effects drama The Last War (世界大戦争, 1961) in particular, for which Hughes is said to have served as go-between during the substantial English-language scenes. If this is true, one wonders if Hughes might not have provided similar assistance for other productions that involved large numbers of Western actors. If so Toei’s Terror Beneath the Sea seems as likely candidate as any. Chiba and a few supporting players excepted, the majority of Terror‘s cast is comprised of Western actors.
When, where, or how Hughes died appears to have gone unpublished, and the latest mention that I can find for him is for
uncredited work on1 a small role as a disgruntled senator in HASHIMOTO Koji’s Sayonara Jupiter from 1984 (a film I’ve honestly never been able to finish). Hughes would have been in his mid-70s at the time. With nothing more to go on the story of Hughes’ career is thus left with the most unsatisfying of conclusions – none at all. This year marks the 105th year since his birth, and if you’ve yet to see any of his films this is as good a time as any to start.
As an aside, the minor uncredited role of the assassinated ambassador in Goke: Body Snatcher from Hell (吸血鬼 ゴケミドロ, from Shochiku in 1968) is credited to Hughes on the IMDB, but this is erroneous. The part is actually played by Harold Conway. Conway is another familiar Western face in Japanese productions, arguably better-known than Hughes, and famed in these parts for his dreadful line readings in Toho’s The Mysterians. “Give them the RAY!”
A clean (no text) trailer for Toei’s Terror Beneath the Sea, taken from the Region 2 Italian DVD
1 Thanks to Brett Homenick (blog here) for setting me straight (via Facebook) on Hughes’ involvement in Sayonara Jupiter. Picture below.
And just for fun, a few more shots from Hughes’ career. I’ll add to this if / when time allows:
I’ve not seen the film myself, but no matter – Hughes actually makes it into the trailer (with credit!) for Toho’s 1959 war film Submarine I-57 Will Not Surrender.
A glimpse of Hughes from Toho’s 1959 sci-fi Battle in Outer Space, where he impresses by putting genuine effort into a fleeting bit part as third-row conference room filler.
Hughes shortly before his single line in 1967′s King Kong Escapes – “Will you be accompanied by the same crew?” That’s none other than Kathy Horan padding the crowd behind him.
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