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SAM FULLER TOKYO NOIR 'HOUSE OF BAMBOO' W/ ROBERT STACK

Ryan's on top of the world ma, in Toyko Year: 1952
The writer of HOUSE OF BAMBOO is billed as Harry Kleiner; additional dialogue is credited to director Samuel Fuller...

Fox Film Noir DVD
Turns out Kleiner wrote 1946's THE STREET WITH NO NAME, and what's said to be "additional" could possibly refer to the entire script in remaking Kleiser's source material, but instead of that nameless American boulevard we journey to the gorgeous region of Tokyo (and other nearby locales) where the city and its backdrops are a character all its own, inhabited by these shady human "characters" who, whether armed with a pistol or not, get wonderfully lost in the maze-like backdrop...

Limited Edition Twilight Time BluRay
This includes a wandering Robert Stack as Eddie Spanner, with a name so smooth and cool he's gotta be cool and crooked as hell. Bullying local stores out of small wads of cash, he's asking for... exactly what he gets in a scolding Robert Ryan, who winds up hiring the failed maverick as one of his own goons. Ryan's Sandy Dawson already has his heels dug so far into the post-War location there's no room for two people "running things," or even having a sole opinion. Leading the viewer into smoky backrooms and dingy apartments, where the gangsters plot their schemes.

And at first, from when he wanders in a criminal shrug off the boat to the real locale full of floating slums clashed with vivid and vibrant, beautiful colors, Stack really seems like a man on his own; but with that voice, even for those not familiar with the original, he's obviously snooping around for some reason... For the Military Police, actually... Sent by Noir stock actor Brad Dexter to find out who killed a local during a rushed prelude. Sure this is a spoiler but anyone familiar with the original sees it coming. Although it must be said, Stack does a pretty good job playing slimy and shady... while it lasts...

Score for Noir: ***1/2
It's quite a stretch that Eddie would be mistaken as anything else in the first place, and Ryan's about as unrealistically tricked that Widmark had been the first time around with the square-jawed, just as cop-ish Mark Stevens. But the Asian law enforcement has paperwork with background ironclad "proof", and Keene has someone to protect in the film's romantic ingenue, Shirley Yamaguchi as Mariko... It was her husband who was slain... And she knows what the head heavy doesn't, and is the only thing providing an alibi, keeping Eddie Keene alive.

Foreign Poster
Taking about a half-hour for the action to encroach the intentionally slow "learning as we go" process, the steamy melodramatic aspect with sporadic blasts of music and the lovely backdrops aside, when things do move forward, the gang actually (finally) starts what they'd been discussing all along... pulling off a dangerous heist while setting up another... where there's no turning back...

Leading to an incredible climax taking place at a Carnival/Fair where we get to see the "vulnerable" side to Ryan's steely villain, who, like James Cagney in WHITE HEAT with Edmond O'Brien exposed, can't believe his new favorite right-hand man is a cheat... Who wasn't exactly celebrated by former henchman played by the always-moody and explosive Cameron Mitchell and, for STAR TREK fans, also in the gang is an uncredited DeForest Kelley as a cautious, safe-seat gangster. Since it's obvious what happens to Ryan, and what always happens to Mitchell happens here, if there were a sequel, it'd pit Elliott Ness against Doc McCoy!
Mount Fiji in the background in House of Bamboo
DeForest Kelley, Robert Stack, Robert Ryan in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
DeForest Kelley, Robert Stack and Shirley Yamaguchi in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Ryan and DeForest Kelley in House of Bamboo
DeForest Kelley, Robert Ryan, Cameron Mitchell and Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Ryan and Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Ryan and Brad Dexter in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
DeForest Kelley as Charlie in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Ryan in the carnival standoff in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
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