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A Rebel vet, O'Meara has refused to surrender when Lee does at Appomattox. O'Meara travels west and after escaping from, he joins the Sioux and takes a wife. After denouncing himself as an ... See full summary »
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In Tokyo, a ruthless gang starts holding up U.S. ammunition trains, prepared to kill any of their own members wounded during a robbery. Down-at-heal ex-serviceman Eddie Spannier arrives from the States, apparently at the invitation of one such unfortunate. But Eddie isn't quite what he seems as he manages to make contact with Sandy Dawson, who is obviously running some sort of big operation, and his plan is helped by acquaintance with Mariko, the secret Japanese wife of the dead American. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
When Eddie Spanier (Robert Stack) is first knocked unconscious by members of Sandy Dawson's gang, Dawson tells one of his underlings to awaken him by tossing a bucket of ice on him. As he lies on the floor, however, Eddie flinches as soon as Dawson gives this command, before any ice actually hits Eddie's face. See more »
Noir meets Noh: Fuller's remake of Street With No Name
In the mid-1950s, using the same screenwriter (Harry Kleiner) and cinematographer (Joe MacDonald) as in the original, the unpredictable Samuel Fuller remade 1948's The Street With No Name as House of Bamboo. For starters, he set in not in anonymous Center City but in post-war Japan -- the first American movie filmed there since the Second World War.
Even in color, Fuller's Tokyo has a grey, slummy look to it, punctuated only by women in blood-red kimonos shuffling through the Ginza. It's an open city where vice flourishes and where ex-G.I. Robert Ryan runs a string of pachinko parlors as a cover for a crime ring. Military investigators and Japanese police tumble to these activities when a U.S. guard dies during a train robbery. And thus enters Robert Stack, sent by the army to infiltrate the gang and solve the murder.
Fuller deals his cards from a deck shuffled differently from his predecessor, William Keighley (who directed Street). It's not clear at the outset who Stack is, keeping us off-balance for a while; there's also a cross-cultural love affair between Stack and Shirley Yamaguchi, the widow of a slain gang member -- Ryan's standing orders are to leave no wounded to tell tales. A twisted erotic charge links Ryan to his pursuer; hinted at in the original, here it deepens the dynamic of Ryan's jealous obsession with his "ichiban," or favorite lieutenants.(There are enough sliding rice-paper screens to fill all of Douglas Sirk's movies with metaphorical barriers, too.)
Far from merely capitalizing on the 50s fad for shooting on locations around the newly opened globe, Fuller seems to construct another metaphor -- for the Occupation of Japan as exploitative, parasitic. Luckily he doesn't press this too far, and House of Bamboo stands as an offbeat, deftly made crime thriller from late in the noir cycle -- albeit with Mount Fujiyama squatting serenely in the background.
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