Saturday, September 22, 2012
|8:00 p.m.||Rusty Knife|
Toshio Masuda (Japan, 1958)
New 35mm Print!
(Sabita naifu). Nikkatsu’s two biggest stars, Yujiro Ishihara and Akira Kobayashi (who were part of the studio’s “Diamond Line” group of top male actors), teamed up for the first time in this noir thriller about two former hoods trying to go straight, with predictably doomed results. Out of jail for killing the man he believed raped and murdered his girlfriend, Tachibana (Ishihara) is looking to stay on the right path in Udaku City’s industrial postwar wastelands; unfortunately, he’s soon drawn into another mob scheme involving a “dirty old man,” one that could lead straight to the top, and straight back to his past. Masuda strips the narrative—and the sets—down to bare necessities, and turns Rusty Knife into a lean, hardboiled vision of postwar Japan. The film was one of over twenty-five that paired Ishihara and director Masuda, and costars Mie Kitahara as Ishihara’s love interest; two years later, the two would elope for a “secret ceremony” in Hawaii, and later marry, fittingly, at the Nikkatsu Hotel.
• Written by Shintaro Ishihara, Masuda. Photographed by Kurataro Takamura. With Yujiro Ishihara, Akira Kobayashi, Mie Kitahara, Shoji Yasui. (90 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Nikkatsu, permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection)