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With: Robert Stack, Robert Ryan, Shirley Yamaguchi, Cameron Mitchell, Brad Dexter, DeForest Kelley, Sessue Hayakawa
Written by: Samuel Fuller, Harry Kleiner
Directed by: Samuel Fuller
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 102
Date: 07/01/1955

House of Bamboo (1955)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Japanese Story

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Always insisting on realism, Samuel Fuller traveled to Japan to shootthis crime thriller so that his locations and details would not seemfake. As a result, it's one of Fuller's most opulent films, taking fulladvantage of the different kinds of atmosphere Japan offered. Thiseffect is intensified by the fact that Americans had generally shiedaway from Japan in the years after World War II. Producer Darryl F.Zanuck offered Fuller a remake of Street with No Name (1948), whichFuller took and re-wrote almost completely, hence the credit "written byHarry Kleiner with additional dialogue by Samuel Fuller." It begins whena supply train -- guarded by both Japanese and American soldiers -- ishijacked and an American is killed. Police have no idea where to lookfor the culprits until an unrelated incident turns up a matching bullet.Army cop Robert Stack goes undercover and joins Robert Ryan's gang toflush out the murderer. The dead man's Japanese wife (Shirley Yamaguchi)helps. Fuller's masterful use of natural locations within theCinemascope frame drives the film, especially the climactic shoot-out ona giant, spinning globe at a carnival. Ryan is especially good,simmering with sinister lunacy just below his character's civilizedsurface. DeForest Kelley, later known as Dr. "Bones" McCoy on "StarTrek," turns up in a supporting role, and the great Sessue Hayakawa, whowas a famous star during the silent era in both Japan and America, playsInspector Kito.

DVD Details: Fox's House of Bamboo DVD comes with a playful commentary track by historians James Ursini and Alain Silver (accompanied by much unwanted nose whistling). Other extras include a trailer, and Fox Movietone News footage of Fuller, Yamaguchi and Stack in Japan.

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