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SAMUEL FULLER'S TOKYO-BASED FILM NOIR 'HOUSE OF BAMBOO'

Running from a heist in HOUSE OF BAMBOO Year: 1955 Rating: ****

One of Sam Fuller's greatest movies is a Noir remake set in Tokyo, and the 1948 FBI-propaganda THE STREET WITH NO NAME is the best cinematic venture J. Edgar Hoover was ever connected to and starring Mark Stevens as an agent going undercover, literally on Skid Row, first as a boxer and then joining a gang of gangsters more like crooks...

In HOUSE OF BAMBOO the head baddie's Robert Ryan, slowburn and professional, the polar opposite of Richard Widmark's signature tantrum-spouting hood. More a crooked businessman, he's cold to the bone yet eventually finds trust in seemingly wayward stranger-in-town Robert Stack...

DeForest Kelley and Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO

Stack spends a bulk of his screen-time romancing or being romanced by geisha girl Shirley Yamaguchi, wife/widow of one of Ryan's gangsters who'd been shot by his own gang for getting shot by those trying to capture him: Ryan's motto is basically No Crook Left Behind... 

But this particular thug remained alive a few days and, while not giving up his backstabbing buddies to agent Brad Dexter, he lets out enough information so that Yamaguchi becomes far more than an ingenue subplot within a remake of STREETS, where there was no good girl/love interest at all...

DeForest Kelley with Robert Stack and Shirley Yamaguchi

With the exception of her (their) big secret being found out by Ryan's sneakiest crook DeForest Kelley, the scenes with Stack are mostly melodramatic, borderline sappy, and don't entirely fit the rest of the Cinemascope Thriller bringing the crowded underworld of post-war Tokyo to life in vibrant yet sleazy ambience...

And although the twist involving Stack is deliberately telegraphed from the get-go, the iron-jawed actor portrays an iron-jawed character playing a world-weary loser good enough. Meanwhile, his danger/urgency ignites more from Ryan's second-in-command Cameron Mitchell in the best performance herein....

Cameron Mitchell gives the ice bucket challenge to Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO

Despite being tough as nails and "all man," Mitchell's much like an old school gangster's moll, full of venomous jealousy and slimy distrust in a somewhat overlong vehicle that needed more smaller, edgier, suspenseful heists (and more Mitchell) to the few over-plotted "run like hell" ones... 

But the sporadic weak points of BAMBOO is made up for by a fantastic peak at a building-top amusement park, perhaps for the first time showing Americans how well Japan has progressed since the war: a country that'd eventually run American businesses, including motion picture studios.

Fantastic Looking Finale from HOUSE OF BAMBOO

Robert Stack and Cameron Mitchell in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Ryan presides over HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Beautiful locale in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Shirley Yamaguchi and Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Ryan in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Ryan in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack and Cameron Mitchell in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack and Cameron Mitchell in HOUSE OF BAMBOO with Mount Fuji
Opening Credits of HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Opening Credits of HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Opening Credits of HOUSE OF BAMBOO showing Mount Fuji
Face masks long ago from HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Sam Fuller directs HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Sam Fuller directs HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Robert Stack in HOUSE OF BAMBOO with DeForest Kelley and Robert Ryan
Poster for Sam Fuller's HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Post heist getaway from Sam Fuller's HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Cameron Mitchell in HOUSE OF BAMBOO
Poster art for HOUSE OF BAMBOO

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