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Friday, April 29, 2016

THE CRIMSON KIMONO (1959)

Theoretically interesting race-tinged drama from Sam Fuller (in his smash-and-grab indie B-pic mode) touches on hot-wire issues without building enough drama from its murder investigation to run the narrative. The ill-nourished story has two best-bud L.A. dicks sharing the case as well as their apartment, a pint of blood from their Korean War service, and now a damsel in distress. The twist in Fuller’s design-for-living is that the girl (Victoria Shaw) goes for the Japanese-American guy (James Shigeta in a slightly stiff film debut) rather than the square-jawed Caucasian roommate (Glenn Corbett). (Note emphasis in poster #2.)

And Shigeta is so all-American, he puts every slight thru a racial prism of Caucasian prejudice & assumed superiority. Simple jealousy never enters his mind. Compared to some of the racially ‘progressive’ pics of the day, Fuller latches onto some pretty advanced social angles. But no matter how much he tarts things up with ‘exotic’ Japanese-American cultural details, local color remains camouflage (victim, suspects, killer are all Caucasian) for a murder case that might have been ordered a la carte.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Today’s Screwy Thought is brought to you by Sam Fuller. Who else would have Anna Lee, bizarrely cast as a boozy artist, sum things up for Corbett’s losing loverboy cop, after he’s called her ‘a pearl,’ by saying this tagline, ‘Thanks, but I prefer something made by a man than something made by an oyster.’

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