Planted in a Tokyo crime syndicate, a U.S. Army Investigator attempts to probe the coinciding death of a fellow Army official.Planted in a Tokyo crime syndicate, a U.S. Army Investigator attempts to probe the coinciding death of a fellow Army official.Planted in a Tokyo crime syndicate, a U.S. Army Investigator attempts to probe the coinciding death of a fellow Army official.
For those of you who don't recognize it screenwriter Harry Kleiner took the screenplay he wrote for the Henry Hathaway classic, The Street With No Name and set in down in post occupation Japan. Robert Ryan plays the gang leader part that Richard Widmark had. He's recruited a gang of former military misfits who spent more time in the stockade than in combat and made them into an effective heist gang. Ryan's got other interests, but his main income is from some well planned robberies.
The USA military intelligence gets involved when Ryan hijacks a train with military hardware and kills a soldier. Going undercover is Robert Stack in the Mark Stevens part.
Unlike The Street With No Name, Stack's allowed a little romance here in the person of Japanese actress Shirley Yamaguchi. In The Street With No Name it was Widmark who had the girlfriends and Stevens was strictly business. Sessue Hayakawa is also in the cast as the Japanese police inspector.
There's a gay subtext in the film with the relationship of Ryan with his number two, Cameron Mitchell. When Stack starts to take his place in the gang hierarchy, Mitchell reactions are of pure jealousy. In fact Mitchell's reactions are what sets in motion the climax of the film.
Which you know if you've seen The Street With No Name. House Of Bamboo boasts some mighty nice location shots of postwar Tokyo which looking at it you would hardly believe what a difference a decade might make. The title House Of Bamboo is the place that Ryan lives in and it's a pre-war structure typical of the Tokyo before General Doolittle inaugurated US bombing raids. Those wooden houses went up like tinder boxes. Note the more modern look Tokyo has in 1955.
The color might disqualify House Of Bamboo from the genre, but the film as the look and feel of a good noir film. Which is as good a recommendation as I can give it.
- Nov 8, 2009