Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On location in Japan

Interestingly enough, both TCM and the Fox Movie Channel are showing movies today that were filmed on location in Japan back in the day. TCM is showing Humphrey Bogart in Tokyo Joe overnight tonight (or very early tomorrow morning) at 4:15 AM, while FMC has House of Bamboo at 1:00 PM. I can't recall if I've seen Tokyo Joe before, but since FMC shows their movies over and over, I just watched House of Bamboo a week or two ago, and it's worthy of a mention.

Robert Stack plays Eddie, a man who arrives in Japan at the beginning of the movie, looking for a friend. However, he meet's the friend's girlfriend (Shirley Yamaguchi), who informs him that the friend has died. That death occurred in a botched train robbery, and Eddie, having had a dark past, winds up getting himself involved in the gang.

Or, at least, that's what Eddie wants people to believe. In point of fact, he's actually working for the US military police, since the train had US military guards on it. Apparently, they also know that there's an American running the gang that was responsible for this robbery, or else they wouldn't hire an American and give him a false dishonorable discharge in order that he may look like a suitable gang recruit. And it's Eddie's job to infiltrate the gang. The gang, as it turns out, it run by Sandy, played by a Robert Ryan who is about as about as ill-tempered and violent as he was in Crossfire and On Dangerous Ground.

House of Bamboo is passably entertaining. The basic plot is easy enough to follow, but some of the details never really seem to be explained, such as how they knew about Robert Ryan's involvement. Still, Ryan is perfect for this sort of role. Stack is nothing special, but doesn't do anything to take away from things. What is probably nicest about House of Bamboo is the Cinemascope and color cinematography of Japan as it was back in the mid-1950s.

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