Friday, September 10, 2010
|7:00 p.m.||House of Bamboo|
Samuel Fuller (U.S., 1952)
Aided by the double-lock-jawed presences of the Roberts, Ryan and Stack, Samuel Fuller combines two favorite topics, crime and GIs, with this gangster film involving crooked ex-soldiers organizing a syndicate in occupied Japan. Surly military cop Robert Stack goes undercover to infiltrate the cartel, led by the suavely psychotic Robert Ryan, and falls for the Japanese widow of a slain gangster. In the first postwar Hollywood film shot in Japan, astonishing CinemaScope images of Tokyo street life illuminate the backdrop for a new war, one between violent mobsters and vicious cops, with both sides displaying amazing lows in Ugly Americanism. The narrative quickly eliminates any moral ascendancy of cops over robbers, as generalized American thuggery runs riot amid a landscape of racial and cultural difference. “The police are much more violent and disagreeable than the criminals,” Fuller explained, a point proven in the infamous ending: a blazing gunfight set in, of all places, a children’s amusement park.
• Written by Harry Kleiner. Photographed by Joe MacDonald. With Robert Ryan, Robert Stack, Shirley Yamaguchi, Sessue Hayakawa. (102 mins, Color, 35mm, ‘Scope, From 20th Century Fox, permission Criterion)