House Of Bamboo

Samuel Fuller

T. It.: La Casa Di Bambù; Sog.: Harry Kleiner; Scen.: Harry Kleiner, Samuel Fuller; F.: Joseph Macdonald; Mo.: James B. Clark; Scgf.: Stuart A. Reiss, Walter M. Scott; Co.: Charles Lemaire; Mu.: Leigh Harline; Su.: Harry M. Leonard, John D. Stack; Int.: Robert Ryan (Sandy Dawson), Robert Stack (Eddie Kenner), Shirley Yamaguchi (Mariko), Cameron Mitchell (Griff), Brad Dexter (Capitano Hanson), Sessue Hayakawa (Ispettore Kito), Biff Elliot (Webber), Sandro Giglio (Ceram), Elko Hanabusa; Prod.: 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation; Pri. Pro.: Los Angeles, 28 Giugno 1955 35mm. D.: 102’. Col. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

House of Bamboo is a war film as well as a film-noir: Fuller was dedicated to both genres due to personal experience and his awareness that modern criminal practices were the consequences of war. House of Bamboo is a divided film. In fact, the dominant theme is the constantly changing boundary between appearance and reality. Nothing is certain, nothing is what it appears to be. Working undercover, the lead character “Eddie Spanier” infiltrates a group of gangsters who control the Tokyo business world. Despite being a member of the military, he behaves like a gangster both at work and in private. The “American Way of Life” of the Asian satellite Country is under observation. Politics, crime, morality and the issue of race are all at the center of this film, hitting hard like a punch. Fuller is a believer in the scoop: it’s not just the story that is violent, but the style too. The film’s opening makes a sudden impact: the train, the weapons and the silent stranglers. The dramaturgical ability of the tabloid journalist comes across magnificently in CinemaScope.

The film captures the language of the Cold War, a minefield of complex and absurd contradictions. Crime is the driving force of all human activity. “Relations” between Countries are based on suspicion, and the best means for expressing suspicion is violence. The standard relationship between a man and a woman becomes a kind of prostitution. The lead character is also full of contradictions: a representative of justice or the cruel figure of Judas who betrays his friend, if the gang’s ringleader played by Robert Ryan can be considered such because he accepts and befriends “Eddie Spanier”. Fuller’s work is never homogeneous; he can be a restless melodramatic and, at the same time, a sharp and effective analyst like Brecht.

Peter von Bagh

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