After escaping from an insane asylum, a young medical student takes on the identity of a dead man to discover the true identity of a man whose picture he saw in a newspaper--who is his ... See full summary »
A criminal drama told in a semi-documentary fashion. The murder of the chief official of Kobe city's Customs triggers an investigation of a prostitution ring called the 'Yellow Line' that sells Japanese women.
Teruo Yoshida and Yoko Mihara tangle with a call girl ring
This film, "Sekushi chitai" is "Sexy Line". It is well worth seeking out.
The director, Teruo Ischii, also directed or wrote other movies of the same type. These include the 1961 "Kasen chitai" or "Fire Line" (as co-writer); the 1960 "Osen chitai" or "Yellow Line"; the 1960 "Kurosen chitai" or "Black Line"; and the 1958 "Shirosen himitsu chitai" or "White Line". He wrote or co-wrote all of these except "White Line", which I have not seen. The only one in color is "Yellow Line".
These are crime stories, and several revolve around prostitution. But these are not sleazy or exploitative movies. There is no nudity to speak of in "Sexy Line", despite the title. These are genuine film noirs, with good production values and genuinely good acting. Each has its own unique ambiance, and it's not the same as a typical American or British noir, yet they resemble enough that we know these are noirs.
"Sexy Line" features on-location outdoor scenes, with many at night. Certain interiors, as in nightclubs or perilous situations, also tend to be lighted darkly.
I recognize a few of the actors from other Japanese movies. The lead female here is Yoko Mihara. She's in 3 of the other "Line" movies. The lead male is Teruo Yoshida, and he's in 2 of the other "Line" movies. These are capable actors with a good deal of screen presence and charisma, as are those in the supporting roles. The fact that these are not big epics and not done by big name directors but smaller crime movies shouldn't take away from seeing that these are very good movies in their own way.
Ms. Mihara plays a vivacious, flirtatious, bold, basically happy young woman who is a pickpocket. Her acting includes a variety of pouts. She's got a lot of drive, and when things go wrong she has a way of charming and ingratiating herself to get out of her difficulties. She really is the center of the movie, partly because she likes adventure and something new, or a thrill. One night, she picks the pocket of Yoshida. After he finds her, they hit it off and get launched on to searching out a call girl ring, because of the death of Yoshida's girl friend at work. Unknown to him, she was making money on the side as a call girl. When she is murdered, he is being sought for her murder. Yoshida is naive and honest, and that plays well against Mihara's greater street smarts.
Along the way, we see how the call girl racket operates to keep below the police radar. We see the customers, usually older men like businessmen, and some of their interactions with the fetching young girls who have been enticed into this and who are virtually held prisoner in it.
I rate this movie as above average (7), and I've added an extra point for two things. One is the cinematography which is fresh and shows character, and the other is Mihara's sparkle. It's on the unusual side to see a noir with an upbeat character like hers at the heart of it.
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