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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>
According to Samuel Fuller, originally, Gary Cooper was to play the role of Eddie Spanier. But because he was too well known in Japan he could not act incognito among passers-by without being recognized so Robert Stack, a less popular actor at the time, was chosen instead. However, according to STEP BY STEP sheet by script writer Harry Kleiner written in November 1954, the names of Robert Stack and Victor Mature were listed. See more »
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 »
But ever since you saved this guy's neck, you've been acting funny, well I know what you're trying to do, but you're not going to get away with it, cuz I won't let you.
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This cops and robbers caper is set in Tokyo, and the colorful street life (not to mention Mt. Fuji) adds a great deal to the interest of this film.
That being said, the film really isn't that interesting. I think Fuller must have known how lame and full of holes the story was. The dialog was pure shlock: "keemona girl" Mariko tells Robert Stack "It's not you, it's me" when explaining that she can't go on living with him to protect him from smart-smart-smart-stupid crime boss Robert Ryan. (Ryan has every angle figured except who the real mole in his organization is and what to do when cops are after you--climb to the roof and shoot more bullets than one gun five guns] could possibly contain.)
In Douglas Sirk's hands, this would have been camped up to the max. Fuller is not quite the director Sirk is. Instead of excess in his characters, he goes for excess with his sets and camera work. Lots of overhead and skewed-angle shots, for no apparent purpose that I could understand. He does a superb job of capturing local color (presumably part of the film was shot in Japan), provides no subtitles for the copious amounts of Japanese that are spoken (still quite understandable to a nonspeaker, however, through action), and uses Mt. Fuji to great scenic effect. The climax recalled to me the great chase on Mt. Rushmore in North by Northwest (perhaps Hitchcock was influenced by House of Bamboo), though it occurs in an amusement park.
Fun to see "Bones McCoy" DeForrest Kelly as a mobster whose sole purpose seems to be to hand cigars out to Ryan's friends. Some homoerotic subtext--Ryan violates his rule to kill any of his gang who is wounded during the commission of a crime, ordering his Ichiban (first officer) to save a wounded Stack from a heist scene.
I can't exactly recommend going out of your way to see this film; it's not that great and it's not even very campy. But it is a skillful piece of technical film making, and worth a look if you have the chance.
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