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Tag Archives: Joyce Compton

44th Birthday Goodies

Today I turn 44, hooray! It’s an unwritten rule that the older you get, the longer amount of time you are allowed to have your birthday celebration. That in mind, we already did a lot of fun things already (like going to the amazing Musical Instrument Museum last week), so today was relatively low-key. Still, I did get some great stuff from the wonderful Christopher – he surprised me today with a Mad Magazine Super Special that I once mentioned enjoying as a kid, along with two Wii games, a framed Joyce Compton cigarette card, and a shiny metal business card holder adorned with a photo of Diana Ross & The Supremes. What a guy! The Blu Ray was a gift to myself from Criterion‘s recent half-off sale.

We also shared a slice of yummy berry cheesecake this afternoon.

Flick Clique: July 29 – August 4

Ellis Island (1936). Another cruddy 1930s b-movie which would have otherwise gone past my radar, had Joyce Compton not co-starred. This had something to do with gangsters and a dopey pair of Ellis Island employees who uncover their dirty deeds, but it didn’t hold my interest whenever Joyce (tiny role as the nurse girlfriend of one of the dopes) wasn’t on screen – which wasn’t too often!
Forbidden Hollywood, Volume 4 (2012 DVD set, Warner Archive). We gorged on pre-Code Warner Bros. this week thanks to this set that I reviewed for DVD Talk. Yes, we managed to watch all four flicks over four nights (they’re all less than 70 minutes long) AND I managed to turn the review around, though not as quickly as promised. The set includes Jewel Robbery with Kay Francis and William Powell, Lawyer Man with Powell and Joan Blondell, Man Wanted with Francis and David Manners, and They Call It Sin with Manners and Loretta Young. Although Man Wanted was my favorite (great interplay with Francis and Manners, with some gorgeous cinematography and luxe sets), all four films in the set have something to offer for Pre-Code fans.
Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011). This was a lovely, appetite-inducing and surprisingly poignant documentary on Japan’s most esteemed sushi chef, 85 year-old Jiro Ono. The tiny sushi restaurant Ono runs is one of the most exclusive eateries in Tokyo, with one multi-course meal that customers are willing to pay a premium and sit on a months-long waiting list to enjoy. All this attention actually makes the good-natured Ono more humble and devoted to his craft of making the most perfect sushi – a decades-long pursuit that he’s honed to perfection. Still, it’s Ono’s belief that there still is room for improvement that makes this film so inspirational. There’s a lot of scenes of food preparation with Ono, his oldest son and the small stable of employees who have worked their way through the ranks, often for years. This may look like a boring film, but we both thought it was wonderful. It really ought to be required viewing for any youngster of the “instant gratification” generation. At the very least, it made me hungry for a plate of sushi, even for the Americanized stuff that most of us know. California Roll? Phhft.
Joffrey: Mavericks Of American Dance (2011). This was a good documentary on the Joffrey Ballet, a bit dry and bland in the presentation but filled with lots of great anecdotes and vintage footage from the company’s earlier years. I reviewed this one for DVD Talk and my review is here.
John Carter (2012). Yeeks, what a stinker! I actually came into this one with an open mind, and even on those lowered standards it still disappointed. The film just seemed like yet another bloated Hollywood project that spent too much effort on the CGI and not enough on, you know, story. But it had so much potential with the Edgar Rice Burroughs pre-World War I concept of life on Mars – with a lot of imaginative CGI and thoughtful planning, it could have been a winner. I can imagine the source material being adapted into something darkly compelling that ties in the Victorian-era U.S. scenes with the Mars scenes, with multi-layered characters that hold our attention despite being simple archetypes at heart. Instead, we get scowling, weirdly unsexy Taylor Kitsch as a title character with no personality, humanoid-form aliens, and a completely incomprehensible story with a prologue that might as well have been “this blah blah blah happened, then this blah blah blah happened…” And a dog-creature.
Wings (1927). The first and only silent Best Picture Oscar winner is also one of Christopher’s favorites (he likes Charles “Buddy” Rogers), but we’ve never owned it. So I ended up buying the blu-ray and getting it for C’s birthday recently. The film is pretty wonderful, with its aerial fight sequences still having the power to impress, 85 years later. I wasn’t so much impressed with the plot, which follows Buddy and his friend Richard Arlen as they enlist as WWI fliers, go through intense pilot training, fight off the Kaiser, then become bitter, cynical war veterans as the horrors of war sink in (Clara Bow, unexpectedly poignant as the girl-next-door who drives a Red Cross truck, also figures in the action). I thought the blu-ray was pretty well done, with a new adaptation of the film’s original score that incorporates sound effects in a subtle way. And yes, the film is still worth watching for all the ho yay going on between Rogers and Arlen (and Gary Cooper, in his brief cameo as a hunky fellow pilot).

Flick Clique: August 7-13

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938). In this screwball comedy, Gary Cooper plays a millionaire having a business trip on the French Riviera. He has a meet-cute with Claudette Colbert in a department store, where he is looking for only a pajama top while she wants the bottom. They fall for each other, but on their wedding day she is dismayed to find that he previously married seven times. It upsets her, but she tries to work out an agreement that will help both herself and her disenfranchised father, a Marquise played by too-young Edward Everett Horton. This was directed by Ernst Lubitsch and screenwritten by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Given the cast and crew, it has the makings of a fun, sparkling soufflé of a movie (like that other Claudette Colbert, Wilder/Brackett collaboration Midnight). In its defense, it is pretty amusing, with a lot of zingy lines and some great, old-style star wattage from Cooper and Colbert. On the whole, however. it’s a disappointment — stagy (with lots of badly done back projection subbing for France), rather forced, and with a story that goes nowhere. I loved looking at the stars and the wonderful Deco interiors, though, so it’s an intriguing diversion if that sorta thing strikes your fancy.
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story (2009). Watched this Disney-produced documentary on Netflix streaming. The Boys is all about Richard and Robert Sherman, composers of “It’s A Small World,” “A Spoonful Of Sugar,” “The Bear Necessities” and about a zillion other earworms from a host of films both Disney and not (surprisingly enough, the film is heavy on clips from non-Disney kiddie fare like Snoopy, Come Home and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Despite the cheery nature of their songs, the brothers have a far from brotherly relationship — underscored by the fact that the film was directed by two Sherman cousins who barely knew each other as children and only recently reconnected over their dads’ work. The film explores the Shermans’ lives going back to their childhood, early non-success in ’50s L.A. (golden oldie “You’re Sixteen” was a rare hit), the heady Disney years and the strange disconnect between their professional and personal lives. The estrangement of the brothers is the “hook” this film is based on, but the fact that they don’t socialize with each other doesn’t seem so unusual (I have two brothers that I barely socialize with, too). Mostly the film celebrates their careers and legacy, and in that respect it’s a winner. You get a lot of info about the men’s individual style — younger Richard is the gregarious, workaholic spokesman for the duo while the brooding Robert (a WWII vet) seems to channel his passions into a variety of things, including writing and painting. They complement each other nicely, and personality issues aside they left a beautiful legacy of songs. There are even a few tear-jerking moments in the film, including any time “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins plays.
From the Terrace (1960). An astonishingly gorgeous Paul Newman stars in this plush soap as the wayward son of an industrialist (Leon Ames) and an alcoholic (Myrna Loy) who decides to defy his dad by starting up an aircraft business. He meets and marries a lovely, opinionated rich girl (Joanne Woodward), but their marriage fails as she philanders and his ambition soars. A docile brunette played by Ina Balin enters Newman’s life just as he’s ready to give up on Woodward, who clings to Newman for the social status even though she’s openly carrying on with old flame Patrick O’Neal. Overlong but decently staged family soap in the mold of Home from the Hill or Peyton Place (although Newman and Woodward are a step up from Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee). 20th Century Fox mounted a nice production here, making the film very watchable despite a so-so story based on a John O’Hara best seller. The perfect set designs, makeup, fashions and jewels (Woodward even wears a tiara!) make this one a sumptuous guilty pleasure. Hopefully I will get the same trashy/faboo reception from the Suzanne Pleshette vehicle A Rage To Live, also based on an O’Hara book (that one is viewable on Netflix, by the way).
House (1977). I already saw this weirdo Japanese haunted house opus in November 2008, but after it was released as part of the Criterion collection I snapped up the DVD. It’s such a goofy, silly movie, but seeing it a second time allows me to appreciate the creative “try everything” mojo that director Nobuhiko Ôbayashi puts in every scene. This time I really noticed the glossy, TV commercial-like moments (especially the scenes with Gorgeous and her would-be stepmother), the weirdly repetitive music cues, the loveliness of the girl playing Kung Fu, the strange way the girls don’t notice or care when the first friend goes missing, etc. It really is a trip. As revealed in the DVD’s supplemental interview with Ôbayashi, many of House‘s ideas were hatched by the director’s pre-teen daughter. Not too terribly surprising, for a film that features a carnivorous piano.
I Saw the Devil (2010). Chilling, super violent Korean flick about a calculating serial killer (played by Oldboy‘s Choi Min-sik) who tortures and kills young women for fun. After one such crime, the victim’s fiancee (Lee Byung-hun) decides to exact revenge by hunting the man down, forcing him to down an ingestible police tracker, then brutalizing him until he cracks. Overlong by at least an hour, but the killing/torturing scenes are excellently filmed, flowing copiously with blood. The film is pretty straightforward and realistic, which makes the brutality all the more scary to behold. Lee Byung-hun delivers a showy, finely modulated performance that never delves into scenery chewing. He’s just a guy with a sick hobby who wants to indulge for a little bit, is there something wrong with that?
Sing, Sinner, Sing (1933). A rather ordinary pre-Code drama based a the real life fraças between singer Libby Holman and her husband, tobacco heir Zachary Smith Reynolds, who was found shot to death under mysterious circumstances in their apartment. Actress Leila Hyams plays the Holman stand-in, a torch singer who shares a stormy romance with gambling ship captain Paul Lukas. She escapes his clutches with a wealthy playboy (Don Dillaway), but after they marry she finds that her new husband is carrying on with a hotsy-totsy blonde — played by my fave Joyce Compton. Probably the best reason to see this hoary drama would be Leila Hyams, who is attractive and somewhat fragile in a way that reminds me of the slightly later Virginia Bruce. She also sings a few numbers in an agreeable (apparently non-dubbed) low voice. The story is pretty blah, with lousy turns from Lukas and Dillaway. The production is moderately nice for a low-budget picture, indulging in the usual settings of shipboard, nightclub, and penthouse. The film was produced by Majestic, a poverty row studio which rented facilities from the majors. This kind of material has been done much better in several contemporary Warner Bros. potboilers, however — only die-hard Pre Code devotees would glean anything worthwhile from Sing, Sinner, Sing.

Flick Clique: May 22-28

dvd_atomicage8Atomic Age Classics, Vol. 8: How to Be a Housewife (2011 DVD). I like ephemeral films and try to find any way possible to get them, whether it’s on YouTube or Archive.org. One of the cheaper ephemeral film collections on the market is Alpha Home Video’s Atomic Age Classics, which collects 1940s-70s films in themed DVDs which run around 90 minutes apiece. These have been around since 2005, with the latest two volumes just out this year. I jumped at the chance to pick up the How to Be a Housewife volume, which for the most part delivers on its kitschy promise of industrial shilling disguised as benign how-tos geared toward the Donna Reed wannabe set. The subjects covered within How to Be a Housewife certainly belong to a different era: would today’s hausfrau really want to know the best ways to prepare lamb (Now About Lamb, 1965) or how to get the most out of a fashionable fur coat (Fashion in Furs, 1964)? The films are unrestored and pretty blandly presented, but totally fascinating all the same. One has to wonder why these big companies bothered to make films in which their product is barely mentioned at all. This couldn’t be more evident in the set’s last two films. Paging Women, made by SC Johnson in 1962, plays like an extended lifestyle/homemaker news segment complete with overly perky host (and a fashion segment filmed at Eero Saarinen’s stunning TWA terminal!). Meanwhile, Pepsi Cola’s Women of the World from 1974 looks at various progressive ladies from around Europe and Africa in a way that would make Bea Arthur’s Maude beam with joy (if she overlooked the Pepsi product placement, of course). What a riot. For more Atomic Age goodness, kindly check my review of the Hygiene, Dating and Delinquency volume from 2007.
Come Next Spring (1956). I gave this one a curious check on Netflix streaming, since it stars one of the handsomest actors of the ’50s, raven-haired Steve Cochran, alongside one of my personal faves from that era, Ann Sheridan. Cochran and Sheridan are both very good in this understated period drama, shot in color against grassy fields meant to evoke the midwest of a bygone period. Cochran plays an ex-alcoholic who, returning from a decade-long bender, finds a not-so-welcome homecoming. Wife Sheridan is attempting to run the family farm while raising a daughter (Sherry Jackson) who went mute from the family disappearance and a son (Richard Eyer) whom Cochran never knew. He’s completely clean and willing to make amends, but even the townsfolk treat him like a leper. Heartwarming Americana which calls to mind Friendly Persuasion (1956), or perhaps a less cloying Pollyanna (1960). Cochran, who was usually cast as swarthy heavies, does a great job. I also enjoyed the opportunity to see Sheridan in a later role, when she matured into playing more poised, level-headed types. Both of the kids were quite natural and appealing. The colorful supporting cast includes Walter Brennan, Sonny Tufts and an unrecognizable Mae Clarke. Worth seeking out if you have Netflix!
If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969). I always wanted to see this silly film based on its title alone, so I bit when it popped up on ThisTV recently. The film attempts to do European travelogue, gag-driven comedy and romance, all in one chaotic package. Whether it succeeds depends on how much you can stomach lowbrow humor and cute, but dated, ’60s kitsch. The film follows a diverse group of American tourists as they take a European bus tour guided by scrappy Brit Ian McShane, who has an eye for beautiful tourist Suzanne Pleshette. Oddly enough, I thought the scenes with McShane and Pleshette held up best — they have an appealing chemistry and make a nicely attractive pair. Comedically, the film plays up “Ugly American” stereotypes with predictable results, although there are a few memorable gags (an American and a German WWII vet simultaneously describing the same heroic battle they fought in the same way, for example). This would-be extravaganza was produced by David Wolper just before embarking on the more memorable Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, by the way. If the idea of a proto-Love Boat/’60s Euro travelogue sounds appealing to you, by all means check this out.

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Manpower (1941). This Edward G. Robinson movie has a strangely magnetic pull on me; I first saw it in the early ’90s on one of my local UHF outlets’ pre-TCM version of the “Late Late Show,” then jumped when the film finally became avaialble on DVD via the Warner Archive. Part of its appeal it that, although it’s not an especially standout film in any particular area, it has a bit of something for everything mashed together in a way that somehow comes together beautifully. Robinson plays a power line worker who shares his dangerous vocation with a bunch of rowdy buddies which include Alan Hale, Frank McHugh (who does his signature nasal laugh a few times), Ward Bond, and best friend George Raft. Robinson is something of a big brother to the crew and takes it upon himself to aid the daughter of an older co-worker who dies in an accident. The daughter is an exotic beauty and ex-con played by Marlene Dietrich, whom the earnest Robinson falls for despite cynical pal Raft’s knowledge that she belongs in the sleazy clip joint where she sings and dances for tips. Seeing it for the fourth or so time, I can see that the ending is rather ludicrous, but otherwise it’s a pip that just oozes with 1940s verve. Part of that verve lies in the camaraderie that director Raoul Walsh sets up with Robinson and his onscreen buddies; all that onscreen clowning looks kind of obnoxious, but it’s also spontaneous and real (and strangely not common in studio-bound pictures from this era). I also enjoy the few scenes with Dietrich and her oddly cast (but wonderful) fellow hostesses, played by Eve Arden and my gal Joyce Compton. Walsh also has a good eye for interesting setups and places, with scenes in a nightclub, hospital, dressing room, hash joint and even a department store ladies’ fashion section brimming with flavor. It’s a swell picture, all right.
The Vanishing (1988). Efficient Dutch thriller that turns several serial killer tropes on their heads (this was remade in 1993 with Kiefer Sutherland, as well). A young man is vacationing (and occasionally arguing) with his girlfriend when they stop at a roadside convenience store. The woman disappears seemingly without a trace, despite having dozens of customers around as witnesses. This prompts the man’s three-year effort to locate the girlfriend and her abductor, an otherwise ordinary fellow with a wife and two teen daughters. Despite getting poky at times, this was an intriguing film with excellent characters. Tim Krabbé’s screenplay takes a lot of chances with the formal structure of the story, with scenes darting back and forth in time. Once the abductor (a chilling Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu) is found, his recounting of the incident is absorbingly told in flashbacks. The characterization of the killer as a regular guy who methodically takes on the kidnapping as a sick experiment recalls Joseph Cotten in Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, one of many nifty echoes that this film evokes. The twist ending was also very effective.

Flick Clique: April 24-30

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008). A young couple in a small Northern California town deals with inexplicable bird attacks — no, it’s not Hitchcock’s The Birds but James Nguyen’s micro-budgeted Birdemic: Shock and Terror. In many ways, this film is the polar opposite of The Birds. Where the earlier film was genuinely suspenseful, well-paced and eerie, Birdemic lops along with a “romantic” plot involving the cardboard lead characters, a seemingly brain-damaged business shark and a model who goes from strip mall photo shoot to Victoria’s Secret catalog cover within a single day. Nguyen appears to have edited the film himself — with awkward pauses, sound droupouts and other gaffes left intact. He also devotes lots of screen time to irrelevant things like a swanky Asian restaurant, a pumpkin festival, and a guy singing “hanging out, hanging out” to the two robotically gyrating leads. When the birds finally show up, they’re hovering (and hilarious) computer clip art images. Bad Movie Gold, in other words, but there is something charming about how the film reflects this one man’s vision, right down to its ham-handed ecological message. In an age when every Hollywood product seems to be groupthunk and market tested to death, that’s something to chew on. For the non-masochistic among us, this four minute highlight reel of Birdemic action scenes might do the trick:

My Dinner with Andre (1981). I remember first hearing about Louis Malle’s divisive film, basically a long filmed conversation between theatre director Andre Gregory and playwright Wallace Shawn, when Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert discussed it on PBS’s Sneak Previews. I also checked it out back then, but I don’t recall much of it except when the two excitedly discuss the subject of electric blankets (a memory that always comes back whenever Christopher rhapsodizes over his own electric blanket, natch). We finally got to revisit the film when Criterion reissued it on DVD. Hmm, this is actually a pretty dull movie. I can respect it for taking chances and addressing topics that are rarely explored on film (the fact that people tend to busy themselves on unimportant matters to avoid facing the crushing blow of their own mortality, for one). The film opens with nebbishy, struggling Shawn dreading meeting Gregory, who is of more comfortable means, at a fancy restaurant. Sure enough, once we get acquainted with Gregory he proves to be something of a pompous ass. His droning on about nature retreats and such dominates the film’s first half; it never fully recovers by the time the slightly more satisfying second half (with the likable Shawn participating more, thankfully) comes. Sadly, I think this film’s most lasting legacy is in providing source material for one of Waiting for Guffman‘s funniest gags. I wouldn’t want to own this film, but I sure do covet those My Dinner with Andre action figures!
poster_ponyoPonyo (2008). Another beatiful Hayao Miyazaki film that we experienced the way it was intended, in its original Japanese. Ponyo centers on a young boy in a picturesque seaside village who finds a mysterious, goldfish-like creature that he dubs Ponyo. Ponyo is actually the offspring of a wizard and a sea goddess who escaped her dad’s undersea lab, however, and befriending a boy has given her a troublesome yearning to become a human being. Such a visual feast, and I loved the parallels between this and The Little Mermaid. The story is more essentially Japanese than other Miyazaki efforts, not quite as accessible but endearing all the same. Of course, the awe-inspiring hand drawn animation is the real reason to catch this — especially wow-able scenes in which the town is flooded with an array of sea creatures. It was also interesting to watch some scenes with the American soundtrack along with the subtitles that accompanied the original Japanese script. Certain details were changed for Disney’s version, such as renaming the adult woman figure “Mom” from the original “Lisa.”
Small Town Boy (1937). Another Joyce Compton flick that just got a welcome DVD release! This was a routine, low budget ’30s “hick does good” comedy with screendom’s eternal bumpkin, Stuart Erwin, as a guy whose world turns upside down when he finds a thousand dollar bill. Compton is a treat as Erwin’s girlfriend, however, and there are several cute/funny scenes. I have a full review of this posted at Joyce Compton News & Notes.
The Wolfman (2010). Benicio Del Toro as the eternally hapless guy who has to deal with a hairy problem every time there’s a full moon. This was just okay. It seemed awfully overproduced to me, from Danny Elfman’s da-da-DUMMMM score to the swampy color palette to the hammy back-and-forth between Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins as his malevolent father. The trials of being a snarling werewolf boil down to basic unresolved Daddy issues, apparently. The creature effects, a combination of CGI and Oscar-winning makeup sorcery, are pretty well done and there is one effective scene of the creature wreaking havoc on 19th Century London’s cobblestone streets. Otherwise, it’s a ho-hum deal.

Weekly Mishmash: March 21-27

Bright Young Things (2003). Stephen Fry’s adaptation of an Evelyn Waugh novel, a thinly disguised memoir of Britain’s “lost generation” of 1930s partygoers, might have been intriguing but mostly it was just “meh.” Fry begins the film with a huge, colorful party scene, his camera whirling around characters as we’re barely introduced to a wide array of outsized personalities. The film then barely lets up until we become acquainted with Stephen Campbell Moore’s earnest writer (and Waugh stand-in) and his devil-may-care fiancée (Emily Mortimer). The film is nicely performed and so well made it practically drips “British,” but the end result is not terribly absorbing. It’s as if Fry kept his camera moving to cover up how shallow the characters onscreen are.
The Day the Sky Exploded (1958). Proto end-of-the-world Italian epic was a recent purchase from Christopher. Unfortunately, Alpha Home Video’s DVD contains a blurry and poorly dubbed print, making an already shoddy film look exponentially worse. I can see the germ of an interesting story here, but mostly it’s a talky bore that falls below even the level of something the MST3K guys would lampoon. The thing that most stood out for me was the liberal use of stock footage. Indeed, this movie contains a veritable who’s-who of notable clips, including a memorable appearance by Stampeding Elephants, a great performance by People Running In City Streets, and an award-worthy turn by Launched Missile.
I’m from Arkansas (1944) and Too Many Women (1942). Ahh — the first two viewings of my 50 comedy DVD pack! If anything, I figure that these movies cost so little to own (roughly 36 cents each) and they’re short enough that if they’re bad, at least it doesn’t hurt that much. Both of these films are intriguing wartime programmers from z-grade studio PRC. In a nutshell, I’m from Arkansas was pretty good and Too Many Women flat out sucked. Arkansas is a corn-pone comedy/musical which has the odd distinction of pairing Iris Adrian (brassy blonde best known for playing obnoxious waitresses and the like) and Bruce Bennett (tall, bland actor who played Mildred Pierce’s boring husband, Bert) as a romantic duo. It’s actually a pretty kicky little movie with several decent musical numbers. And did I mention it’s only an hour long? Special note to Brad: this was a good ‘un. The less said about Too Many Women, the better. A misguided farce with an old (and gay seeming) Neil Hamilton playing a hapless playboy juggling several girlfriends at once, this film is talky, incomprehensible and dull. The only good spot is Joyce Compton being her usual perky self as one of the girlfriends.
poster_madamexMadame X (1966). A lush, somewhat kitschy but at times intense telling of one of the most oft-told stories in filmdom (I think there’s even been a silent Madame X or two). This version has the same producer, leading lady, cinematographer and costume designer as the classic weepie Imitation of Life. Perhaps it may be the older-than-dirt source material, but this overstuffed film seems strangely out of date by ’60s standards — but it still winds up being fast paced, soapy fun. Lana Turner gives a totally committed performance in the title role (I think she’s actually better here than in Imitation), and the supporting cast includes a delightful Constance Bennett as a bejeweled and shellac-haired mother in-law from hell. The movie works surprisingly well as melodrama, making it slightly less campy than other Turner vehicles of the ’60s.
Scandal (1950). Our final Akira Kurosawa film for this month. Strangely enough, I’m finding that I’m enjoying the lesser known, earlier efforts such as this and Drunken Angel more than the classics in his filmography. Like Drunken Angel, this is a contemporary-set drama that comments on the state of postwar Japanese society. In this case, it’s an indictment of the media that revolves around the feather light story of a famous singer (Shirley Yamaguchi, a Japanese Linda Darnell) who becomes part of a scandal when she innocently welcomes a poor artist (Toshiro Mifune) into her hotel room. Sure, the plot is nothing to write home about, but Kurosawa’s gift for vivid characters and settings is on full display here. I especially loved the scene where the principals are singing Christmas characters to their attorney’s crippled daughter. Good one!