Friday, 25 July 2008

House of Bamboo (Sam Fuller, 1955)

Sandy Dawson: Who are you working for?
Eddie Kenner: [pretending to be Eddie Spanier] Spanier.
Sandy Dawson: Who's Spanier?
Eddie Kenner: Me.
Sandy Dawson: Who else you working for?
Eddie Kenner: Eddie.

Sergeant Kenner - posing as Eddie Kenner (Robert Stack) - tries to become a member of Sandy Dawson’s gang. Dawson (a role played by Robert Ryan who has a strong presence in the film) is the head of a violent gang formed by expatriate war veterans. Kenner is helped by Mariko (Shirley Yamaguchi); eventually he will win Dawson’s confidence (some critics see a hint of homosexuality in their relationship) and will try to warn the police about the gang future crimes.

This is an unusual film noir (a loose remake of The Street with no Name). It was filmed in Technicolor and the setting was Japan. There are stills with Mount Fuji, the Kamakura Buddha; Tokyo is the real stage where most of the action takes place. From our perspective the Japanese background may seem a little exotic and stereotyped but there are very beautiful stills (in fact the setting is one of the strong points of the movie) and there is also some hint of American violence towards Japanese society - the ending in the amusement park reinforces this idea.

The final climax on the bizarre park tower may have some resemblance with White Heat. Some gangsters may reach to the top but they are bound to fall…

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