Archive for March 20th, 2012

by Allan Fish

(Japan 1967 99m) DVD1

Aka. Ai no kawaki

The Fall of the House of Sugimoto

p  Kazu Otsuka  d  Koreyoshi Kurahara  w  Shigeo Fujita, Koreyoshi Kurahara  story  Yukio Mishima  ph  Yoshio Mamiya  ed  Akira Suzuki  m  Toshiro Mayuzumi  art  Kazuhiko Chiba

Ruriko Asaoka (Etsuko), Nobuo Nakamura (father-in-law), Tetsuo Ishidate (Saburo), Akira Yamauchi (Kensuke), Chitose Kurenai (Miyo), Yuko Kusunoki (Chieko), Yoko Kozono (Asako),

The name of Koreyoshi Kurahaha is not one that you will find in many lists of important Japanese directors, at least in western books.  With giants like Yoshida, Masumura and Oshima barely listed either, what chance did Kurahara have?  I first became aware of him for his 1957 noir film I am Waiting, which debuted on the Criterion Eclipse Nikkatsu Noir set.  It was a nice little thriller which, while not quite up to the masterworks of its type, at least merited a mention in despatches and gave its popular lead Yujiro Ishihara a role to relish as a knight in rusty armour. 

            The announcement later of an Eclipse set devoted purely to Kurahara was met with enthusiasm in eclectic circles.  Five important films were included; Black Sun and Intimidation seemed solid works but very much of their time, while The Warped Ones, which gave the boxset its title, likewise seemed a bit of a relic.  It was the other two that were of most interest; I Hate But Love, the only one of the five in colour, was an entertaining discourse on the mania of celebrity, with Ishihara again well cast as the hero who just wanted to be left alone.  Equally fine as his harassed female assistant was a young Ruriko Asaoka, an actress likewise rarely mentioned in western circles amongst the great Japanese actresses, but the same is also true of Ayako Wakao and Mariko Okada and Asaoka, while not perhaps having the brilliant series of roles that those two actresses’ favourite directors gave them, was always a welcome sight and here gives what surely ranks with her very finest performances. (more…)

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