I got this new 3 movie set from the library the other week and finally thought to mention it. The movies are all from the Nikkatsu film company and they are all from the late 1950s. I'd seen a few Nikkatsu films that Criterion had put out under their Eclipse label. There were a number of films, by a handful of directors, and they were mostly pretty darn entertaining. It's was an interesting period for Japanese film. You can read more on the Wikipedia. Nikkatsu is Japan's oldest film company and they had an interesting history.
Voice Without A Shadow is a 1958 Seijun Suzuki film. He's one of my favorite Japanese directors. His 1967 film Branded To Kill is one of my favorite films of all time. It was so good that it got him fired from Nikkatsu. They said it was incomprehensible and of course no one went to see it. Today it's an important piece of influential cinema. Go figure. Like Branded To Kill this movie has Jô Shishido and like that movie he's a gangster. A newspaper switchboard operator at a newspaper hears a phone call and it's discovered that the man on the phone killed someone. She has no luck with identifying any one. Three years later the man comes into her life, as her husband's boss, and she recognizes the voice. She's worried about it, did he know it was her? Before anything with her happens the man is found dead and her husband is suspected. It's a fairly straight forward thriller that was based on a novel. It's got a fairly good script and good actors to tell the story. Not a good as some of Suzuki's 60s films but there's nothing to complain about.
Red Pier stars Yujiro Ishihara whom I had seen a while back in Nikkatsu's Crazed Fruit. It's supposed to be a fairly important film, the first of many disaffected youth films. It's kind of sad and unhappy. Isn't that often the case. Red Pier is a 1958 movie directed by Toshiro Masuda. I've only seen his 1958 film Rusty Knife and liked that a good bit. Red Pier is another look into the world of crime and the characters that live there. Yujiro comes to Kobe because it's too hot for him in Tokyo. The cops are interested in him and some gangsters come looking for him for that Tokyo business. He meets a gal and wonders about leaving the gangster life. You can imagine how that goes. It was an entertaining film and I was glad to have seen it.
The Rambling Guitarist was even more entertaining than the first two films. Akira Kobayashi is the rambling guitarist in the title. It's the first of 9 films according to the DVD featurette on Akira. It's directed by Buichi Saito who would go onto direct a Baby Cart movie. In TRG Akira comes to town and saves the life of a gangster's henchman. The gangster gives him a job but he doesn't like being a bad guy so he goes and works against him. There's a nice sense of humor in the script and the characters are fun. There's a bit of romance, some drama and some nice fights. Well worth seeing and one I would watch again sometime.
A nice little group of films. Well worth seeing.