Starring Victoria Shaw, Glenn Corbett, James Shigeta, Anna Lee, Paul Dubov, Jaclynne Greene, Neyle Morrow, Gloria Pall
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Expectations: High. I saw this for the first time right before starting Silver Emulsion, so I’m excited to revisit it.
Like all the Sam Fuller films I’ve seen, The Crimson Kimono is an interesting and unique film. It begins as something of a film noir, with a burlesque dancer chased and murdered in the middle of a busy Los Angeles street by a mysterious assailant. Stepping in to investigate this strange murder are LAPD detectives Charlie Bancroft (Glenn Corbett) and Joe Kojaku (James Shigeta). Yep, that’s right, a Japanese police detective in a ’50s film. If it were anyone other than Sam Fuller, I’d be surprised.
Not only does Fuller have a lead Japanese character in a position of power that would generally be shown as a white male, Fuller doesn’t portray Joe as a stereotype. Joe is an Asian character played by an Asian man. He speaks normally, he acts normally, and his culture is not presented as some den of villainy for the white men to bust into and break up. This is truly groundbreaking stuff, and Fuller should be more well-known for his contribution to this kind of socially conscious filmmaking.