From the Chicago Reader. I’ve lost track of when this was published, but I know it wasn’t in October 1985, which is listed on the Reader’s web site — over two years before I joined the staff there. I would guess this probably appeared around fourteen years later. — J.R.
I’ve seen about a dozen of the 57 features directed by the fascinating and criminally neglected Yasuzo Masumura (1924-1986), and while no two are alike in style, many are socially subversive and most skirt the edges of exploitation filmmaking. This 1965 black-and-white ‘Scope comedy is also known as Yakuza Soldier; Shintaro Katsu, star of the popular Zatoichi films, plays an amiable, earthy yakuza thug drafted into Japan’s war with Manchuria prior to World War II, during which his main companion, the story’s narrator, is an intellectual with a similarly jaundiced view of military discipline. Made a year before the even more remarkable violent antiwar film Red Angel, this film features a lot of slapping and bone crunching, all of it administered by Japanese against other Japanese; significantly, the violence involving Manchurians is ignored. The irreverent ambience at times suggests Mister Roberts, with the pertinent difference that desertion is regarded as a sane and reasonable response to a soldier’s life.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader, January 15, 1993. — J.R.
*** (A must-see)
Directed by Cyril Endfield
Written by Endfield, Gene Piller, Michael Simmons, E. Maurice Adler, and Julius Harmon
With Edward Arnold, Horace McNally, Esther Williams, and Vicky Lane.
THE ARGYLE SECRETS
*** (A must-see)
Directed and written by Cyril Endfield
With William Gargan, Marjorie Lord, Ralph Byrd, Jack Reitzen, John Banner, Barbara Billingsley, Alex Fraser, George Anderson, Mary Tarcai, and Kenneth Greenwald.
It’s a virtual truism that rewriting history entails — and to some extent derives from — rethinking the present moment. Just as the recent change in presidents can be linked to the public’s revised reading of the last 4 (or 8 or 12) years, our highly selective sense of film history is determined not only by which films have survived but also by the present-day concerns that dictate what interests us about the past.
Illustrations of this principle can be found in three separate programs showing this week at the Film Center. The first two are part of an invaluable series, “Romanov Twilight: Early Russian Cinema,” running throughout this month. I haven’t previewed the films for these programs — Yakov Protazanov’s two-part Satan Triumphant (1917) on Saturday at 4:30 and Evgenii Bauer’s Yuri Nagorny (1916) and V.… Read more »
From the November, 8, 2002 Chicago Reader. — J.R.
Not one of Billy Wilder’s best efforts (I wonder if it was motivated by his desire to show his ideological “correctness” during the Red Scare, by celebrating a much-beloved antisemite), this lengthy 1957 account of Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic, shot in CinemaScope, still has some interest because of James Stewart’s performance, which is very nearly a one-man show. With Patricia Smith, Murray Hamilton, Marc Connelly, and a score by Franz Waxman. 138 min. (JR)
… Read more »