House of Bamboo (1955)

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Directed by Samuel Fuller
Written by Harry Kleiner and Samuel Fuller
1955/USA
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
First viewing/Netflix rental

Griff: But ever since you saved this guy’s neck, you’ve been acting funny, well I know what you’re trying to do, but you’re not going to get away with it, cuz I won’t let you.

This film offers Sam Fuller’s cockeyed worldview along with some beautiful color shots of post-War Tokyo.

As the film opens, a train guarded by Japanese police and U.S. soldiers is robbed and one of the soldiers is killed.  One of the robbers is wounded and gives the police some sketchy clues about an Eddie Spannier and the robber’s own secret wife before dying.  Next thing we know, Eddie (Robert Stack) appears in town, having been released from prison.  Eddie meets with the wife, Mariko (Shirley Yamaguchi), who is apparently innocent of any knowledge of her husband’s criminal connections.  He then strong arms a couple of Japanese pachinko parlor bosses into paying him protection money.  This brings him to the attention of Sandy Dawson (Robert Ryan), the gangster that runs the pachinko parlor racket in Tokyo and masterminds many other crimes.

House of Bamboo 1955

Sandy takes a liking to Eddie and soon he is muscling out Griff (Cameron Mitchell) as Sandy’s “ichiban man”.  Mariko assists Eddie by becoming his “kimona woman” and staying over at his place.  The rest of the movie follows the further criminal exploits of the gang and the joint police/US Army investigation.

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Although it all takes place in broad daylight, this is a solid film noir with several stunning shots and a cracking ending shootout at an amusement park.  Fuller gets in some digs at Ugly Americanism.  According to the commentary, Ryan was the only actor who picked up on Fuller’s homoerotic subtext.  It’s certainly pretty subtle.

Trailer

Allan Arkush – Trailers from Hell

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