I first saw this movie in 1958 just before going to Japan with the US Army. It made quite an impact on me and my expectations of the Japanese. The movie does successfully capture some of the Japanese spirit as I know it. John Wayne, though he has been panned in this role, I think, embodies what may have been an accurate portrayal of the typical well meaning American in a culture he could never understand. Years later, when I happened to be in Shimoda, where the film is set, I found a small Japanese Museum, that commorated the self-sacrifice of the Japanese woman, the lovely Okichi, to her community. It depicts the 'facts' of the movie in a totally differnt light.
This movie really deserves to be put on DVD !!