In the middle of a fierce commercial competition between three caramel companies, an executive builds up a ditsy teenage girl as a mascot while simultaneously trying to uncover the rival companies' plans.
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Two interwoven stories. The first is a biography of anarchist Sakae Osugi which follows his relationship with three women in the 1920s. The second centers around two 1960s' students researching Osugi's theories.
As much a film of its moment as Sweet Smell of Success and just as lasting in its pertinence, this cruel satire is Masumura's masterpiece - although an excellent script (from a Ken Kaiko novel) and terrific cast deserve their share of the credit. Three confectionery companies are locked in cut-throat rivalry for a share of a market increasingly dominated by imported US candy. Goda (Takamatsu), a thrusting young exec with World Caramel, spots a young woman out shopping and decides to turn her into a celebrity who can star in his plan for a space age ad campaign. Kyoko Shima (Nozoe), averagely pretty and with exceptionally bad teeth, takes to the Pygmalion treatment like a duck to water and soon leaves behind her job with a failing taxi firm and her dysfunctional family. Goda's assistant Nishi (Kawaguchi), who dates a woman exec from a rival firm and proves a useless industrial spy, watches as both the girl and his boss succumb to mega-greed; the film's ending turns on whether or not ... Written by
Corporate intrigue between the Giant, World, and Apollo caramel companies. Nishi is an ad exec for World, his best friend from college works in the advertising division of Giant, and his girlfriend works in the advertising division of Apollo. Nishi's boss, Godo is married into the family that runs the company, and it is obviously not a happy marriage, Godo disrespects his wife and has worked himself into a bleeding ulcer. When Godo and Nishi discover a cute hillbilly girl with rotted out teeth on the streets, Godo thinks she would make a good model and convinces her that Nishi is in love with her. While the rival companies create competing campaigns the young workers attempt to find a middle ground between loyalty to the company and loyalty to your friends. Eventually things turn very bad, and this may be the only movie in history where a guy walking around in a spacesuit with a bubble helmet, shooting a toy gun is a downer ending. The movie features a very weird musical number where Kyoko the hillbilly girl (after getting her teeth fixed) sings a jazzy little number about death, destruction and cannibalism. It is amazing that this film was made in 1958, it is light years beyond any other movie from the 50's I've ever seen. The use of Nishi's lighter to trigger montages is a really interesting idea visually, and I've never seen anything like that before. I give it a 10, and now I definitely need to see more of Masumura's films- the only other one I've seen is Blind Beast which is a horror/sexploitation flick in the style of The Collector.
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