HOUSE OF BAMBOO
$7 Member $12.50 Regular
LATE SHOWS ONLY!
(1955, Samuel Fuller) “A wounded man is immediately killed” is pachinko kingpin Robert Ryan’s ironclad law for his gang of dishonorably discharged ex-servicemen — so why doesn’t Ryan waste echt Ugly American recent recruit Robert Stack, after he takes a bullet during a Tokyo Bay heist? Ryan’s erstwhile ichibanCameron Mitchell’s hysterical outbursts make it clear he wants to know. But Stack is already romancing, first as a blind and then for real, henchman’s widow Shirley Yamaguchi (so often the “Chinese” girl in wartime propaganda movies, she had to prove Japanese parentage to beat postwar treason charges), who introduces a very Japanese variation on the “walls of Jericho” from It Happened One Night. A favorite of Godard and the Cahiers crowd, Sam Fuller’s very free remake of The Street with No Name was the very first CinemaScope and color picture shot on location in Japan, with a rooftop Kabuki rehearsal; a surreptitious meeting at the Great Buddha of Kamakura; a glimpse of Frank Lloyd Wright’s lost masterpiece The Imperial Hotel (demolished 1968); water spouting from a standing bath as a suspected stoolie is riddled with lead; and a showdown atop a department store’s revolving globe. Approx. 102 min. DCP.
A 20th CENTURY FOX RELEASE
"A MASTERPIECE THAT PINPOINTS THE SUBLIME IN FULLER'S SENSATIONALISM AND EARNS EVERY INCH OF ITS WIDESCREEN REAL ESTATE! Turning the on-location Tokyo streets into the perfect backdrop for a cartoonishly colorful version of hardboiled drama—call it Pulp Art— House of Bamboo keeps its story line about an undercover Army cop (Stack) battling a gangster (Ryan) on the lean and mean side. But the impeccable compositions Fuller uses to detail the lyrical and the lurid give even the most lowbrow elements a high-art feel;
it’s like a bridge from the gutter to the museum."
– David Fear, Time Out New York
"GET YOURSELF THE CHANCE TO SEE IT! Ideally, that means on a big screen, where the CinemaScope photography can be seen and felt... The first thrill is just to witness and inhabit Fuller's command of the screen and the image. And, truth to tell, he was so restless, so quick, so inquisitve, he can leave even Nicholas Ray and Anthony Mann looking overcomposed."
– David Thomson
"Fuller, working with what may have been the largest budget of his career, gleefully embraces the outsized CinemaScope format, offering, in one famous early shot, a gorgeous image of Mount Fuji framed by the splayed feet of a corpse. What may have been meant as an extension of Fox's down and dirty newsreel style into the new format becomes instead a widescreen riot of sound and color, as Fuller transforms the Ginza district into his personal formal playground."
– Dave Kehr, The New York Times
"The most lavish of Sam Fuller's 20th Century Fox contract jobs and a paean to post-war Japan— fervently picturesque and full of gratuitous local color. Paper walls are regularly crashed through but, as in Pickup on South Street, there's some unexpectedly brutal stuff and an impressive top-of-the-world ending on the roof of Matsuma Department Store."
– J. Hoberman, Village Voice
"HAS SOME OF THE MOST STUNNING EXAMPLES OF WIDESCREEN PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA! Travelling to Japan on 20th Century Fox's dime, Fuller captured a country divided, trapped between past traditions and progressive attitudes while lingering in the devastating aftereffects of an all-too-recent World War. His visual schema represents the societal fractures through a series of deep-focus, Noh-theatrical tableaus, a succession of silhouettes, screens, and stylized color photography that melds the heady insanity of a Douglas Sirk melodrama with the philosophical inquiry of the best noirs."
– Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
“The pachinko parlors, Kabuki troupe, Great Buddha, whirling globe, and cherry blossoms have an almost surreal relationship to the criminal activities of the gang... Fuller’s feeling for the visual subject is expressed in the colors and dynamic compositions of Joe McDonald’s photography. The violent scenes have particular power. The tracking shot of the factory robbery with black-coated hunched and running figures has a compelling visual sweep; and the climactic battle on the globe is choreographed with the precision of a Noh drama.”
– Blake Lucas and Alain Silver, Film Noir
"Offers all Fuller's key themes and motifs in a characteristic thriller form: dual identities, divided loyalties, racial tensions, life (and cinema) as war. Part of it is Fuller the war correspondent, reporting from the front, leaving the viewer to fight out meanings alongside the characters. Part of it is Fuller the American tourist, shamelessly reducing Japan to stereotypes, twisting local colour to his own ends."
– Time Out (London)
"One of Samuel Fuller's best, a tough, sometimes nasty, but always exciting 1955 effort in 'Scope and color that unites three of his favorite topics: military comradeship, the underworld, and the Far East."
– Don Druker, Chicago Reader