Review: The Crimson Kimono


The Crimson Kimono is a classic film noir from writer and director Samuel Fuller. Fuller is an interesting artist that tackled some interesting topics and pushed the boundaries with his films and this one is no different.

Glen Corbett and James Shigeta play police detectives. Not only are these two partners, but also best friends. They even live in the same apartment and have fought side by side in the war. Corbett plays white detective Charlie Bancroft while Shigeta is Japanese detective Joe Kojaku. This film was released in 1959 and I don’t know if this is the first buddy cop film with a white police officer and a minority partner, but it has to be one of the earliest.


This film starts out with a stripper being shot and killed in the street. When a painting of the stripper in her dressing room is also shot and the only lead to the case, our two detectives track down the artist. Victoria Shaw plays Chris, the artist of the painting. When both of our detectives fall in love with the lovely Chris and Chris falls in love with Joe Kojaku, the drama starts. Will our heroes be distracted by Chris? Will they solve the murder?


Fuller dives into the Japanese culture in this film with a lot of Japanese martial arts being highlighted as well as a Japanese community parade. The big topic this film tackles is a biracial relationship. I liked how the criminal motives and Joe’s inner struggles parallel each other. The pull of love over friendship as well as Joe trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong for him and those he cares about is well portrayed.



Fuller was a pioneer in many ways in this film, taking themes and subject matter like martial arts, minority cultures and interracial relationships and using them in a story line. Common themes we almost expect in films today, but in 1959 this had to be new to the audience.

I like this film overall, but felt the love triangle was rushed or forced at first. This could be because of editing or budget and time constraints on the film. An interesting film for those looking for for something unique to watch and fans of Fuller.


Review: The Naked Kiss

This Naked Kiss is a film noir from the noir legend Samuel Fuller. Fuller wrote and directed this film from 1964.

This film starts out with a prostitute named Kelly, played by Constance Towers, in a fight with a man. The man pulls off her wig to reveal she is completely bald! The reason she is bald in this opening scene does come up later in the film, but seems a minor point by that time. This is a shocking scene though and appears promptly on many of the posters and promotional items for the film, I’m sure it peaked some interest in the film and sold a few tickets back in 1964. After this battle with the man, Kelly takes only the money that is owed to her and leaves. The film then flashes forward a few years as Kelly gets off the bus in Grantville. She soon meets a police captain named Griff, played by Anthony Eisley. Griff soon becomes Kelly’s first customer in town and it is also her last. Griff recommends Kelly go across the river and work at an established cat house in the neighboring town. When Griff goes to the cat house to see how Kelly has settled in, he finds she is not there. Kelly has had a change of heart and soon gets a job at the local hospital for children. When Kelly meets J.L. Grant, the Grant for which the town Grantville is named, there are instant sparks and a romance soon starts.

The holes in this plot are so big that the plot doesn’t even make any sense after a while. Why does a prostitute suddenly decide to change her ways? OK, this one may be explained away as perhaps Kelly was playing the long game and using her femme fatale ways to land the most eligible bachelor. Kelly does seem to come across as bi-polar, one minute she is the nicest person you will ever meet and the next she is loosing it for some minor reason. I don’t know whether Towers is a bad actress or brilliant, I could never get a read on what Kelly’s motives are and at the end of this film I still didn’t know why she did half the stuff she did.

This film is unique and a bit campy in places, but well worth viewing for fans of classic film noir. This is not my favorite film from Fuller, but he has made it interesting enough that I’m glad I did see it.

Favorite Tidbit: Samuel Fuller put a few Easter Eggs in this film from his own noir universe. In one scene you can see Kelly walking by a theater where Fuller’s previous film Shock Corridor is on the marquee. In another scene Kelly is reading on a park bench while talking to Griff, the book she is reading is The Dark Page,a book written by Fuller.

Review: Shock Corridor

So the classic film noir era ended in 1958 according to some film noir historians, some might stretch it to 1960. I guess nobody told Samuel Fuller, because this film is about as close to a classic film noir as you get. This film is written, directed and produced by Fuller in 1963, and Fuller has done it all in the noir genre.

This film stars Peter Breck, who plays a journalist named Johnny, and is willing to do anything to win a Pulitzer. He trains with a psychiatrist to look like a mentally disturbed person when the time is right. He has a girlfriend, played by Constance Towers, who happens to be a stripper with brains and is madly in love with Johnny.

Johnny wants his girlfriend to act like his sister and tell the police that Johnny is making sexual advances towards her. So in 1963, I guess a stripper could tell a cop,” this is her brother and he is abusing me” and that is enough to get thrown in the mental hospital. You would think a background check to see if Johnny is even her brother would be done first? So we got to suspend our disbelief for a bit, but that is OK. So Johnny’s girlfriend thinks this is a really bad idea, I think she maybe right. Johnny wants to get institutionalized so he can solve a murder of a patient in the hospital. He knows there are three witnesses to the crime and one of them has to know who really committed the murder. So Johnny is deemed insane and sent to the hospital and proceeds to get close to the three witnesses as well as some of the other patients and staff members. Will Johnny solve the murder? Will he stay sane? Will his girlfriend stay with him when it is all over?

There are some very good performances in this film, but besides the two leads the one that stood out the most to me was James Best as Stuart. I’ve never really seen Best play anything by Rosco on The Dukes of Hazard, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him in something totally different.

This film is shot in black and white and it also uses a lot of classic film noir techniques for the cinematography.

The story is told with a few voice overs and delves into some dark places of the mind and our society. Finally one of my requirements for being a great film noir, this film doesn’t exactly have a happy ending. So by date alone I will file this under neo noir. On the other hand I think classic film noir lovers will actually really like this film. Forget what date is on it and just enjoy this film for what it is.

Review: Pickup on South Street

Another great film noir from Samuel Fuller who wrote and directed this classic.  We have noir legend Richard Widmark and femme fatale great Jean Peters as our leads.  Throw in Thelma Ritter for a little character and we have the making of one of the top noir films from the classic era.

Our story starts with Widmark stealing the wallet out of Peters’ purse on the subway.  Peters in being followed at the time by an F.B.I. agent and goes to the police.  Enter Ritter who helps the F.B.I. and police finger Widmark as the pick pocket.  Peters goes to her boyfriend and tells him she has lost the microfilm she was carrying for him. as it was in her wallet.  Widmark has everybody chasing him for this microfilm and he doesn’t even know what it is.  Will our hero make it out alive?  What is on the microfilm?  Why is the F.B.I. interested?  Who are the bad guys that will do almost anything to get it back?

All three big stars are great in this one and I enjoyed all their performances.  You can’t go wrong with classic noir dialog like this one:

“I’ve got almost enough to buy both the stone and the plot.”

“If you lost that kitty, it’s Potter’s Field.”

“This I do not think is a very funny joke, Captain Tiger!”

“I just meant you ought to be careful how you carry your bankroll.”

“Look, Tiger, if I was to be buried in Potter’s Field, it would just about kill me.”

A must see for classic film noir fans, especially those that are fans of any of the three stars or Samuel Fullers work.  After this film Peters moved up on my list of favorite femme fatales and I plan to go back and re-watch some of the other films I’ve seen with her in it.

Favorite Tidbit:  Jean Peters was not the first choice for this role of Candy.  Names like Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Shelley Winters where all up for consideration in one way or another.  Fuller went with Peters and I got to say, he made the right choice.

Review: House of Bamboo


I’ve seen a few things on how great Samuel Fuller is, and I’ve not really watched or read any of his stuff before.  Hope to read some of his noir fiction soon.  I got a hold of this movie first and gave it a viewing.  Fuller wrote some of the dialog for this film and directed it.  This is actually a remake of the film noir The Street with No Name.  I have not seen Street with No Name but may have to check it out and compare it to this one.  Fuller filmed this film noir in CinemaScope and color, not many film noirs from the classic era where done this way.

This has 2 noir greats in it, Robert Ryan(quickly moving into my 5 favorite noir actors list) and Robert Stack.  We also have a fairly unique setting, this film was filmed and takes place in Tokyo.  We also have some Japanese talent in this film most notably is Shirley Yamaguchi as a kimono girl and Sessue Hayakawa as a police inspector.

Our story starts out with a train heist, a group of masked men rob the train which is protected by the U.S. Military as well as the Japanese.  They kill an Army soldier bringing in the military police to investigate.  Three weeks later we have another robbery, this time a man is shot by police and then shot 3 more times by his own team!  This is to make sure he is dead and can not get caught and talk.  The problem is he didn’t die!  They take the 3 slugs out of him and they match the bullets to the one in our dead soldier.  Even though his cohorts shot him, our suspect will not talk before he does die.  They find a picture of his wife(Yamaguchi), they keep it secret so his fellow criminals do not know about her.  They also found a letter from his friend Eddie who he tells to come to Tokyo for a cut of their new job.  Soon Eddie comes to town(Stack) and finds his friends wife.  He then falls into a crew of Americans pulling heists, run by tough guy Sandy(Ryan).  The story twists and turns from there for an enjoyable film.

This was an interesting movie with some great shots and scenes, very unique being in Japan and filmed in color.  I will definitely be looking for more stuff from Fuller to watch.  This is for any fan of film noir that does not mind it being in color, as well as fans of Fuller, Ryan and Stack.

Favorite Tidbit:  According to Robert Stack, in one scene Fuller told an actor to duck really low by a 50 gallon drum as he passed.  The actor was shocked when a real bullet went by him into the barrel.  Fuller used a sharp shooter for the scene and when the actor complained, Fuller told him the shooter know what he was doing.