Thursday, 2 March 2017

Nikkatsu Trailer Theatre # 5:

Well if my gushing praise in last week’s Seijun Suzuki memorial post wasn’t enough to sell you on 1964’s ‘Gate of Flesh’, perhaps the typically hyperbolic outpourings of Nikkastu’s trailer department will do the trick?

Leaving aside a few meaningless and/or questionably translated exclamations and a some inevitable come-ons to the presumed-to-be-male audience however, I think this lean two and a half minutes actually does a pretty good job of conveying the power of Suzuki’s film, in visual terms at least. (It would have been nice to see a bit more of Takeo Kimura’s extraordinary sets, but, never mind – something tells this film’s original viewing public weren’t putting down their yen at the ticket booth for the sake of the set design.)

According to Suzuki, the film’s female stars were mostly drawn from outside the studio’s usual roster of contract players, as the Nikkatsu actresses were understandably unwilling to engage with such risqué material. With aching predictability, the women are all ranked below both Jo Shishido and Koji Wada (who makes almost no impression at all) on ‘Gate of Flesh’s official cast list, but it should be noted that their performances are excellent across the board. They’re all tops in my book.

We should also note the presence here of Chico Roland – Japanese cinema’s go-to guy for black American roles – appearing in a cameo as a U.S. Army chaplain. Last seen around these parts in 1968’s Genocide, Roland is always an extraordinary presence. Constantly on the verge of breaking into hysterics whenever he is on-screen, and seemingly fluent in neither English nor Japanese, I’ve always wondered what his story was. Any info gratefully received by the Chico Roland Appreciation Society c/o the usual address.


Elliot James said...

Beautifully filmed. Relentless grim. It has a sort of hypnotic resonance.

Elliot James said...

Ben said...

Thanks so much for that link Elliot - some fascinating clues to follow up in there....