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House of Bamboo (1955)

Cast: Robert Ryan, Robert Ryan, Robert Stack, more...
Director: Samuel Fuller, Samuel Fuller
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Vintage Noir, Crime
Running Time: 102 min.
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
    see additional details...

Synopsis
Samuel Fuller directed and cowrote this typically hard-boiled drama set in Japan following World War II. Eddie Kenner (Robert Stack) is given a special assignment by the Army to get the inside story on Sandy Dawson (Robert Ryan), a former GI who has formed a gang of fellow servicemen and Japanese locals who use their muscle to take over Tokyo's pachinko racket and commit a series of train robberies, targeting deliveries of military ammunition. Eddie is supposed to gather evidence on the murder of a soldier believed to have fallen in with the gang, and Eddie tries to blend in with the group to find out how they work. Hoping to learn more, Eddie also begins romancing Mariko (Shirley Yamaguchi), a Japanese woman who was married to the slain gangster, and he learns that the ruthless Dawson kills men who are injured during robberies rather than leave them behind to possibly testify against him. After a burglary goes wrong, Dawson becomes convinced that there's an informer in the group; wrongly believing it's Griff (Cameron Mitchell), Dawson kills his loyal soldier and makes Eddie his second in command. Veteran Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa appears as Inspector Kito, a Japanese police detective working with Eddie to crack the case. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Fuller fun by RMorris May 25, 2007 - 10:43 AM PDT
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1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Taut, tense, violence, Sam Fuller style. Beautifully photographed in Japan using cinemascope and technicolor. With Fuller the story's the thing, and this story keeps you interested. Also, it's clear that the French New Wave did not just admire Fuller, they stole from him! The sequence when the gangsters rob the warehouse looks like something Godard could have directed. Really worth a look.

Sam in Japan by talltale June 23, 2005 - 8:02 PM PDT
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5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Sam Fuller's HOUSE OF BAMBOO is definitely no noir; it's far too colorful and positive for that, although it does draw near to some dark corners now and then. Robert Ryan is the one to watch here: what a terrifically intelligent, cool crime boss he makes, with some nicely understated homosexual undertones, oodles of style and just enough decency to make you care a bit about this strange character. Robert Stack, on the other hand, gives one of his typical, stolid performances (his initial swagger will put you in mind of John Wayne, and--whether or not you appreciated Wayne--the comparison is not a good one).

The local color is eye-opening (some fine work went into this DVD transfer), as are the shots of Tokyo fifty years ago. Compare this flick with "Lost in Translation," as far as scenery goes, and you'll wonder if any other country has changed so thoroughly in half a century: not simply from traditional to modern but from east to west. Manhattan was Manhattan way back in the 30s; the skyline may have changed, but not the character. Tokyo, on the other hand, will amaze you.

I've been told that "Bamboo" is actually a remake of "The Street With No Name," recently-relased-to-DVD. We watched these two films within a week's time, and indeed there are a number of similarities. Both are OK movies, but I prefer the Sam Fuller style, the color, and even the Hollywood trappings--which, when used in such an exotic, little-seen-at-the-time location (this movie predates "Sayonara" by two years)--add quite a bit to the enjoyment level. Neither film is a true "noir," in any case.




GreenCine Member Rating
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(Average 6.37)
30 Votes
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