Measured, elegant, unique, impeccably made, Ichikawa chose a vintage fifties who-done-it and used the post war setting, the hint of perverted Japanese Industrial power and lashings of violence, with a bit of sex, to create something that is unlike anything else in his or anyone else's output.
Shifting the detective story to a Japan full of returned soldiers, shortages and disrupted tradition and then playing the simple minded material straight faced, complete with the mask over a mask heir to the family fortune that is to be allocated by reading the will, comes with all his life time of technical know how. It makes what is very slow paced gripping and at the same time something closer to art film.
The star presences of Junko Fuji and Nakadai, as a Black & white still photo, produce the touch that confirms that this is not just an old man's pulp fiction.
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