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The Crimson Kimono (1959)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 5 May 1960 (Mexico)
1:49 | Trailer

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Two detectives seek a stripper's killer in the Japanese quarter of Los Angeles, but a love triangle threatens their friendship.


Samuel Fuller


Samuel Fuller
Won 1 Golden Globe. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Victoria Shaw ... Christine Downs
Glenn Corbett ... Det. Sgt. Charlie Bancroft
James Shigeta ... Det. Joe Kojaku
Anna Lee ... Mac
Paul Dubov ... Casale
Jaclynne Greene Jaclynne Greene ... Roma
Neyle Morrow ... Hansel
Gloria Pall ... Sugar Torch
Pat Silver Pat Silver ... Mother (as Barbara Hayden)
George Yoshinaga George Yoshinaga ... Willy Hidaka
Kaye Elhardt Kaye Elhardt ... Nun
Aya Oyama Aya Oyama ... Sister Gertrude
George Okamura George Okamura ... Charlie, karate teacher
Ryosho S. Sogabe Ryosho S. Sogabe ... Priest (as Reverend Ryosho S. Sogabe)
Bob Okazaki Bob Okazaki ... George Yoshinaga (as Robert Okazaki)


Classic, hard-to-find Sam Fuller pic is intriguing noir about two detective partners, one caucasian and one Japanese, who try to solve a complicated murder case. Unfortunately, trouble arises when along the way, both of them fall in love with the key witness! Written by Mark Toscano <fiddybop@uclink4.berkeley.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Yes, this is a beautiful American girl in the arms of a Japanese boy!


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Parents Guide:

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English | Japanese

Release Date:

5 May 1960 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

El kimono escarlata See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In Nov. 1959, Columbia Pictures distributed this film on a double bill with Battle of the Coral Sea (1959) starring Cliff Robertson. See more »


In the military graveyard, a grave marker says that the Nisei soldier had been awarded the "Congressional Medal of Honor". The name of the medal is properly named the "Medal of Honor"; the word "Congressional" is informal usage and would not appear on a grave marker in a military graveyard. See more »


Mac: [said to Chris, as she puffs on a cigar] Smoking a cigarette is like drinking beer out of a thimble. A man is only a man, my dear, but a good cigar is a smoke.
See more »


Featured in The Slanted Screen (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

You only saw what you wanted to see
15 June 2006 | by antcol8See all my reviews

Not like I want to lecture all of you...but this film does a bit more than it's being given credit for. In fact, it engages with the nature of image and illusion and its relation to reality. Maybe it doesn't do this in the profoundest of ways, but this is as proper a subject for film-making as can be. Hitchcock's Rear Window is the obvious masterpiece in this respect, but if you take your attention (or "gaze" if you prefer) off of the story or the genre of this film for a second, you can't avoid the fact that every scene has this at its core. The film is filled with Westerners who have a fixation or fascination with otherness as represented, in this case, by "orientalism". They are experts in Asian art and martial arts; they are infusing their work and life with exoticism.They have a curatorial approach to life; they are voyeurs, to some degree. Painters and painting - imagemaking - plays a key role in the film.The Japanese - American (Nisei) detective Joe attempts to bridge the gap that exists between himself and Christine through a tongue-tied analysis of what is missing in her canvas - what is visible by its absence. He also attempts to figure out whether his thinking is more "Asian" or "American" in its nature. This is symbolized by his playing a Japanese folk song on the most Western of instruments, the well-tempered piano. He sees himself as a hybrid. He is aware of the fact that he sees the world through a combination of several possible filters. The line "You only saw what you wanted to see" has key significance in this film,underscoring as it does several key scenes. By the use of the word "you", it also implicates the VIEWER of the film. The viewer of a film only sees what he/she wants to see: notice, for example, how this whole aspect of this film, which I consider essential, has gone unmentioned in all the other commentaries! Joe wants Christine to see him for himself, fearful of her taking the curatorial or voyeuristic approach to their interracial relationship - Deleuze's famous line "when you are lost in the dream of the other, you are screwed" comes to mind - and yet Joe forgets that he sees HIMSELF as fragmented, made up of parts.

The stripper's dying in the street is accompanied by raucous stripper music and is immediately contrasted with her lascivious life-size representation above the marquee. The life force and escapism represented there is contrasted with the funky facts of life and death. Her manager's description of the Asian - influenced act which she was planning uses the language of aesthetics to describe a piece of cutting-edge trash much as the film we are watching operates both on the level of a program-filling potboiler and an examination of personal tropes. All this having been said, I will admit that, having recently re-seen Pickup On South Street, I was a bit spoiled by the earlier film. Neither Glenn Corbett nor Victoria Shaw seem to inhabit their roles adequately enough. I understand that Fuller films are not about "acting" per se, but still...And Sam Leavitt is no Joe McDonald (cinematography). I loved the denouement's taking place within the fast-moving Nisei parade, but this is a real Wells (Lady from Shanghai) via Hitchcock (39 Steps) moment. And they both did it better, for what it's worth. Still, I love Fuller and his vision. I am glad his work now receives serious attention although paradoxically, like a true example of Heisenberg's principle, such work seems to function much better outside of the self-conscious, self-reflexive world of "art". Fuller is like Anna Lee's character Mac: he can only paint his epic masterpieces in the back room of a sleazy bar.

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