Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|House of Bamboo |
Fox Film Noir
Actors: Robert Ryan, Robert Stack, Cameron Mitchell, Brad Dexter, Shirley Yamaguchi
Director: Samuel Fuller
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
In Tokyo a ruthless gang holds up U.S. ammunition trains. Ex-serviceman Eddie Spannier arrives from the States apparently at the invitation of one such unfortunate. But, Eddie isn't quite what he seems.
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Ryan gives it punch
LGwriter | Astoria, N.Y. United States | 02/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This 1955 Sam Fuller film noir is basically saved, character-wise, by Robert Ryan who plays a vicious crime boss in, of all places, post-WW II Japan. The first American film shot there after the war, this is unique for that aspect. Ryan is great, as usual; I can't think of one film he's in that he doesn't make better than it is thanks to his presence. He runs a bunch of pachinko (read: pinball) parlors, a front for his crime operations which include robbing American supply trains of all kinds of stuff (the opening scene shows this really well).
Robert Stack plays an undercover cop who infiltrates Ryan's gang to find out exactly how the man murdered at the beginning of the film during the heist bought it. Thanks to not only colorful settings, but Ryan's great performance, this is better than it should be. The script is kind of ho-hum. Stack is OK, pretty good, not great; he's Robert Stack. He falls for the widow of the murdered guy; she's Japanese so Fuller brings in another (semi-)controversial element, interracial love (which he also did in Crimson Kimono).
Fuller's an original, no question. Whether that originality is always of high quality is questionable, but he does love to hit the viewer in the face with issues challenging social convention and in that respect, he's definitely worth watching. When he's great--as in Pickup on South Street, or Shock Corridor--where everything fits together and purrs like a Ford Cobra engine--he's unbeatable. Here, in House of Bamboo, he gets some of the issues in, but the story is nowhere near as strong as it could or should be.
Worth seeing. Owning? I dunno."
Flawed, But With An Excellent Robert Ryan Performance
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 06/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was expecting a lot more from this movie than I got. On one level it's a fairly taut crime drama that takes place in Tokyo in the mid-Fifties. On the other hand, it has a lot of tough guy cliche dialogue and a performance by Robert Stack that is just not good. The story line is simple, but look out for spoilers ahead.
Sandy Dawson (Robert Ryan) heads up a gang of ex-servicemen in Tokyo who pull off robberies with military precision and complete ruthlessness. If anyone gets wounded, he's killed right then. The U.S. Army and the Japanese police join forces to crack the gang. They send in a ringer, Eddie Spanier (Robert Stack), to infiltrate the gang. Spanier is a false identity; he's actually an Army crime investigator. What follows is the story of Dawson's operation and how it works, and of Spanier gradually gaining Dawson's trust. The climax pits the two against against each other when Dawson at last learns of Spanier's real job.
The movie was shot in Tokyo and looks great. Anyone who has spent time there will recognize a number of locations. (One false note is when Samuel Fuller cuts to a scene that was actually filmed in Kamakura at the Great Buddha and at the Hachiman shrine.) Robert Ryan and, in a smaller role, Cameron Mitchell as Griff, his second in command, do first-rate jobs, especially Ryan. Sandy Dawson is a dangerous man, superficially polite and solicitous, but not far below the surface is a big ego, a streak of cruelty and what could be a hint of homoerotic feelings for Spanier. This isn't stressed, but it explains Dawson's actions concerning Spanier, and his intensity when he finds he has been betrayed. Dawson is also just a bit off. His last dialogue with a silent Griff is not that of a man who is in total command of his marbles. Ryan dominates the movie. Unfortunately, the movie is about the efforts to catch Ryan's character, and these efforts center on Robert Stack's character. Stack just isn't a good enough actor. Sam Fuller evidently wanted Stack to play Eddie Spanier like a real tough guy, but Stack can't carry it off. He "acts" like a tough guy would walk and move. He "acts" the way a tough guy would speak and sound. It's phony from the first sentence out of Stack's mouth, and it undercuts the effectiveness of the story.
The romance scenes between Stack and Shirley Yamaguchi seem stilted and almost unnecessary, but Fuller pumps up the tension on the action sequences. The train robbery, the robbery at the cement factory and the set up for the robbery of the bank bus are well handled. And the showdown between Dawson and Spanier, with the Tokyo police, at a children's fun park high on top of a business building is great. On balance, however, House of Bamboo's strong points seem to me to be a nice performance by Robert Ryan and some great scenery. The DVD picture is first rate."
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 04/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"House of Bamboo isn't a great movie, but it sure is a good one, and certainly the most lavish of Sam Fuller's career. Robert Stack's hardboiled lead is pure teak - he actually makes his Elliot Ness look hip and laidback by comparison - but luckily Robert Ryan is on hand to dominate proceedings with his sheer presence and talent. Graced with a great entrance, Ryan makes much more of his quietly hubristic, possibly gay gangster than was probably ever on the page: his monologue to a man he has just murdered as he gently, sensitively holds the corpse's head above water is genuinely shocking. Throw in a great use of colour and the widescreen (this was from the days when CinemaScope really WAS CinemaScope), and you may not have a 100% classic, but you've certainly got a visual treat."
.......... "MUSHIE---MUSHIE" ..........
Christopher E. Sarno | Boston, Massachusetts United States | 07/22/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with Zack's take on this movie...I had just returned from two  sojourns in Kyoto, Japan [ 1954]...and I found this movie/DVD lacking of any Japanese mystique to a great degree...standard crime movie with the predictable ending, all taking place in Tokyo, Japan ....yes, where were the Yakusa??...Robert Stack and Robert Ryan headline with the charming Shirley Yamaguchi, but that's all you get for your time and effort; incidentally, Director: Sam Fuller lured Shirley Yamaguchi away from her wealthy/socialite lifestyle in NYC...to return to her native Japan for this 20th Century Fox cinemascope picture, she remained onboard for a few more flicks and then, just disappeared from the silver screen forever."