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Sunday, August 25, 2013


An unimpressive outing from revered Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi. He seems to miss the ironic edge in this baseball saga, trying too hard to convince us of something we already know: Money Corrupts. The simple story is laid out in a jumpy manner that makes things a bit hard to follow, but basically we’ve got a hot baseball prospect & his university mentor being wooed by a handful of free-spending pro teams. The escalation in gifts & cash quickly start to cascade down thru the boy’s family (with the expected negative results) while we focus on one of the pro scouts & the player’s longtime handler. Kobayashi (or his scripters) needlessly complicate the situation with a health crisis that adds a bathetic note to the big dramatic choice of which team will win the bidding. So while the film succeeds in leaving a nasty taste in your mouth, perhaps a less melodramatic angle might have given us something to think about.

DOUBLE-BILL: Billy Wilder’s blackest film, ACE IN THE HOLE/’51, gives some idea of how this might have worked.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Keiji Sada, who had his signature role in this film as the sympathetic scout, keeps striking poses that make him look like a very lean Greg Peck. Meanwhile, the rumpled mentor, Tokue Hanazawa, is even more of a match for Michel Simon! Not a face you expect to see twice.

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