Saturday, April 21, 2012
Rusty Knife (1958)
Chronologically this is the second movie in the set. All five movies represent a Japanese approach to film noir that combines plenty of classic noir elements with a uniquely Japanese flavour. This, and the fact that all were made by Nikkatsu Studios in the late 50s and early 60s, is what gives this collection of movies by a variety of directors its coherence.
Rusty Knife dates from 1958 and was directed by a man who went to become one of the studio’s most successful directors, Toshio Masuda.
Now one of the criminals, Shimabara (Jô Shishido, later to become Japanese noir’s most iconic star), has decided the huge money was not sufficient. He tries to blackmail Katsumada. He pays the price for his folly, but he was not a complete fool. He had given a letter to his girlfriend, to be delivered to the police in the event of his untimely demise. Not only does the letter reveal that Nishida’s death was murder, it also names the two other witnesses.
He is a typical noir hero, an essentially good man who cannot escape his past or his one tragic violent act. Also swept into this drama is Nichida’s daughter Keiko (Mie Kitahara), now a documentary film-maker crusading against violent crime. She and Tachibana are friends but now they will be drawn together in an unexpected way, and the various plot strands will coalesce.
There’s plenty of noirish atmosphere and like most Japanese movies it’s quite stylish but without the visual extravagance of a Seijun Suzuki movie. The truck fight sequence is impressive. Yûjirô Ishihara and Mie Kitahara are both excellent.
Rusty Knife is very definitely worth a look. Highly recommended.