The Crimson Kimono (1959)

The_Crimson_KimonoStarring 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.

threehalfstar


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.

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The Mummy (1959)

Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux, Eddie Byrne, Felix Aylmer, Raymond Huntley, George Pastell, George Woodbridge, Harold Goodwin, Denis Shaw, Willoughby Gray, Michael Ripper

Directed by Terence Fisher

Expectations: High. The Mummy was my favorite Universal horror film as a kid.


For the final film of my four film Hammer series, I decided to go with the hallowed tale of The Mummy, a standby favorite monster of my childhood via the 1932 Universal film starring Boris Karloff. What was always interesting to me about that film was Karloff’s vulnerability and the fact that while he was killing people and generally doing wrong, he had a reason to do so that was understandable. He was a sympathetic monster and coupled with the copious Egyptian motifs, I was powerless to the power of the mummy.

So going into Hammer’s take on the tale, there was a pretty high hill to climb. Unfortunately, I can’t say what I’ve said in all the previous Hammer reviews, that “This one is even better than the Universal version!” I stand firmly by the original, and while I did greatly enjoy Hammer’s film, I thought it was slower than it needed to be. When your monster is a shambling corpse wrapped in ancient bandages and caked with thick swamp mud, you do get something of a pass, but I can’t excuse away all of the film’s crawling pace.

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The Ghost of Yotsuya (1959)

The Ghost of Yotsuya [Tôkaidô Yotsuya Kaidan, 東海道四谷怪談] (1959)
AKA The Ghost Story of Yotsuya

Starring Shigeru Amachi, Noriko Kitazawa, Katsuko Wakasugi, Shuntarô Emi, Ryûzaburô Nakamura, Junko Ikeuchi, Jun Ôtomo, Hiroshi Hayashi, Shinjirô Asano, Arata Shibata, Kikuko Hanaoka

Directed by Nobuo Nakagawa

Expectations: Moderate. Love old Japanese films, not sure what to expect here.


The Ghost of Yotsuya starts off fairly unassumingly. A man pulls back a curtain on a small outdoor stage, revealing an old woman surrounded by three ominous candles, singing a short song about the notion that a woman scorned is one of the greatest horrors. This leads into the film proper where we meet Lemon, a down on his luck samurai hoping to acquire the beautiful Iwa’s hand in marriage. He stops her father while on a nighttime walk and when the father refuses his request, Lemon brutally murders him and his companion, the father of the fiancé to Iwa’s sister Sode. Their servant runs over to Lemon with a plan for how they can avoid any problems the deaths may cause, and with that, the film is off and running.

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Verboten! (1959)

Verboten! (1959)

Starring James Best, Susan Cummings, Tom Pittman, Paul Dubov, Harold Daye, Dick Kallman, Stuart Randall, Steven Geray, Anna Hope, Robert Boon, Sasha Harden, Paul Busch, Neyle Morrow, Joe Turkel

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High, it’s Sam Fuller.


Verboten! is notable for a few reasons. It is Sam Fuller’s first World War II movie, it was the last picture produced by RKO and it’s a damn fine piece of 1950s cinema. Opening with a bang as all Fuller pictures do, we are thrust into the action as a pair of soldiers are under assault from some Germans hiding behind a jeep. After a well-placed grenade they take a moment’s rest under a road sign that reads Trinken Verboten!, but their rest is short as they have orders to enter the town of Rothbach and clear out a sniper nested there. Queue Beethoven’s Fifth and run for cover!

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