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Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) (1957-1967)

Cast: Jo Shishido, Misako Watanabe, Yujiro Ishihara, more...
Director: Takashi Nomura, Koreyoshi Kurahara, Toshio Masuda, more...
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Criterion
Genre: Drama, Foreign, Romance, Japan, Crime, Gangsters, Criterion Collection, Suspense/Thriller, Action, Film Noir, Manhunt, Capers, Neo Noir, Neo Noir, Yakuza
Languages: Japanese
Subtitles: English

Synopses
Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 1 of 5: I Am Waiting (1957)
From the late 1950's through the sixties, wild, idiosyncratic crime movies were the brutal and boisterous business of Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan. In an effort to attract youthful audiences growing increasingly accustomed to American and French big-screen imports, Nikkatsu began producing action potboilers (mukokuseki akushun, or "borderless action") that incorporated elements of the western, comedy, gangster, and teen-rebel genres. This bruised and bloody collection represents a standout cross section of what Nikkatsu had to offer, from such prominent, stylistically daring directors as Seijun Suzuki, Toshio Masuda, and Takashi Nomura.


I Am Waiting: In Koreyoshi Kurahara's directorial debut, rebel matinee idol Yujiro Ishihara (fresh off the sensational Crazed Fruit) stars as a restaurant manager and former boxer who saves a beautiful, suicidal club hostess (Mie Kitahara) trying to escape the clutches of her gangster employer. Featuring expressionist lighting and bold camera work, this was one of Nikkatsu's early successes.

Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 2 of 5: Rusty Knife (1958)
Rusty Knife was the first smash for director Toshio Masuda, who would go on to become one of Japanese cinema's major hit makers. In the film, Yujiro Ishihara and fellow top Nikkatsu star Akira Kobayashi play former hoodlums trying to leave behind a life of crime, but their past comes back to haunt them when the authorities seek them out as murder witnesses.

Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 3 of 5: Take Aim at the Police Van (1960)
At the beginning of Seijun Suzuki's taut and twisty whodunit, a prison truck is attacked and a convict inside murdered. The penitentiary guard on duty, Daijiro (Michitaro Mizushima), is accused of negligence and suspended, only to take it upon himself to track down the killers.

Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 4 of 5: Cruel Gun Story (1964)
Fresh out of the slammer, Togawa (Branded to Kill's rough-and-ready Joe Shishido) has no chance to go straight because he is immediately coerced by a wealthy mob boss into organizing a heist on an armored car carrying racetrack receipts. After assembling a ragtag bunch to carry out the robbery, Togawa learns that all is not what it seems in Takumi Furukawa's thriller. Cue the double (and triple) crosses!

Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 5 of 5: A Colt is My Passport (1967)
One of Japanese cinema's supreme emulations of American noir, Takashi Nomura's A Colt Is My Passport is a down-and-dirty but gorgeously photographed yakuza film starring Joe Shishido as a hard-boiled hit man caught between rival gangs. Featuring an incredible, spaghetti-western-style soundtrack and brimming with formal experimentation, this is Nikkatsu at its finest.


GreenCine Member Ratings

Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 1 of 5: I Am Waiting (1957)
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7.00 (5 votes)
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Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 2 of 5: Rusty Knife (1958)
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9.00 (1 votes)
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Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 3 of 5: Take Aim at the Police Van (1960)
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7.50 (4 votes)
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Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 4 of 5: Cruel Gun Story (1964)
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6.00 (3 votes)
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Eclipse Series 17: Nikkatsu Noir (Criterion) Disc 5 of 5: A Colt is My Passport (1967)
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7.67 (6 votes)
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