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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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
I haven't seen any of Masumura's other films, but, if they are anything like "Giants and Toys," they are extremely strange. Think "Four Hundred Blows" crossed with "Greed is good" American-style capitalism in post-war Japan, and you've got a good idea of what the story is about. Wickedly on-target satire, good performances, and interesting visual ideas (including Warhol-esque shots of ads featuring World Caramel's poster girl) converge in a very good, if surreal, movie. It's not quite good enough to be a classic, but it is unpredictable and enjoyable to watch.
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