American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre Presents...
Making Movie History for 80 Years!

Click Here To Print a October Schedule!
Series compiled by Chris D.
Special Thanks to: Naoko Watanabe and Masako Miwa/JAPAN FOUNDATION, L.A.; Tomoko Suzuki/DAIEI; Jeff Reichert/COWBOY FILMS; Stephanie Friedman/JANUS FILMS; Marc Walkow/CRITERION; Brent Kliewer; Charles Coleman/FACETS CINEMATHEQUE; Mona Nagai/PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE; Yoshiki Hayashi.
Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $8 general admission unless noted otherwise.
Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< October 11-13 2002 >>>

A Double Edged Sword: The Films of Shintaro Katsu & Raizo Ichikawa

Sponsored by the
Japan Foundation

Information in Japanese (your computer must be able to read the Japanese character set)

Two of the most phenomenally popular and versatile stars of the great postwar period in Japanese cinema, actors Shintaro Katsu (1931 – 1997) and Raizo Ichikawa (1931 – 1969) remain almost criminally unknown outside their home country. While they couldn’t be more physically dissimilar – Katsu was an explosive bulldog of a man, while Ichikawa had an ethereal, almost alien beauty to him – both actors shared a sublime ability to transcend genre stereotypes, creating action heroes who were wounded, soul-searching individuals.

Shintaro Katsu, blending the pathos and humor of Chaplin’s "Little Tramp" with the masculine authority of a Robert Mitchum, started work at Daiei Studios in the mid-1950’s. More of a blustery extrovert on-screen (and off-), Katsu became a huge star in 1962 playing the Blind Swordsman in the ZATOICHI film series. He was so successful by the late 1960’s that he started his own production company, producing many of the later ZATOICHI pictures as well as all six of the LONE WOLF AND CUB films (starring his brother Tomisaburo Wakayama). The success of the Blind Swordsman movies allowed Katsu to branch out into other roles, working with master directors like Yasuzo Masumura (HOODLUM SOLDIER, 1965) and Hideo Gosha (HITOKIRI, 1969.) Katsu died of cancer in 1997, robbing Japanese cinema of one of its most distinctive talents.

A native of Kyoto, Raizo Ichikawa began his career at Daiei at the same time as Katsu, and worked there exclusively, becoming one of the studio’s top box-office draws. He was a favorite of action auteurs like Kenji Misumi, Kazuo Ikehiro and Kazuo Mori, who used his feline grace and eerie, mask-like features in period thrillers like NINJA, BAND OF ASSASSINS and the KYOSHIRO NEMURI films, as well as contemporary dramas like A CERTAIN KILLER and THE TEMPLE OF THE GOLDEN PAVILION (based on the Yukio Mishima novel.) Ichikawa’s exquisitely romantic presence inspired legions of female and male fans, and earned him the title of the "Japanese James Dean." His meteoric career was tragically cut short by cancer in 1969.

We are very excited to present this long overdue tribute honoring two legends of modern Japanese cinema, Raizo Ichikawa and Shintaro Katsu, featuring brand new 35 mm. prints of three of the acclaimed ZATOICHI Blind Swordsman films - !

 

Friday, October 11 – 7:00 PM

SWORD OF FIRE aka BURNING SWORD OF KYOSHIRO NEMURI (NEMURI KYOSHIRO ENJO KEN -- #5 of series), 1965, Daiei, 83 min. Dir. Kenji Misumi. Created by writer Renzaburo Shibata, the half-breed Kyoshiro Nemuri, whose noble mother was raped by a Portuguese missionary-turned-Satanist(!), was one of the great anti-heroes of Japanese film and literature. Raizo Ichikawa was perfect casting, portraying Nemuri with just the right amount of detached misanthropy and lone wolf chivalry. In SWORD OF FIRE, Nemuri soon regrets rescuing duplicitous Tamao Nakamura as she leads him into a maze of betrayal and violent death.

 

Friday, October 11 – 9:15 PM

Blind Swordsman Double-Feature – Brand New 35 mm. Prints!!

ZATOICHI ENTERS AGAIN aka NEW TALE OF ZATOICHI (SHIN ZATOICHI MONOGATARI -- #3 in series), 1963, Janus/Daiei, 91 min. Dir. Tokuzo Tanaka. When the visiting Ichi (Shintaro Katsu) plans to marry the sister (Mikiko Tsubouchi) of his sword mentor (Seizaburo Kawazu), the angry teacher bars him from their house. Ichi soon discovers that not only is his beloved teacher corrupt, but also responsible for several murders -- which inevitably leads to a tragic, action-packed confrontation between the two blade masters.

ZATOICHI, THE FUGITIVE (ZATOICHI KYOJO TABI - #4 in series), 1963, Janus/Daiei, 86 min. Dir. Tokuzo Tanaka. Wandering masseur Ichi (Shintaro Katsu) is forced to kill an unwanted attacker, then compassionately decides to inform the dead man’s mother, a feisty old yakuza moll. Soon, Ichi is up to his neck dealing with an evil gang boss (Toru Abe), a former flame (Masayo Banri), and a cruel yojimbo (Toshitaro Kitashiro). There are spectacular pitched sword battles galore here, as well as one of Akira Ifukube’s most beautiful scores. One of the best in the series.

 

Saturday, October 12 – 5:00 PM

Raizo Ichikawa and Shintaro Katsu Together!

SAMURAI VENDETTA aka CHRONICLE OF PALE CHERRY BLOSSOMS (HAKU OKI), 1959, Daiei, 109 min. Raizo Ichikawa is a young samurai official betrayed by his fiancée’s family, with two-fisted Shintaro Katsu the best friend who tries to minimize the damage while staying loyal to his persecuted comrade. After nearly being killed in an ambush, Ichikawa disappears – only to later return as a heartbroken, one-armed swordsman. Kazuo Mori directed this oft-filmed fable with an eye for pastoral beauty and tragic romance -- Ichikawa’s climactic swordfight in the falling snow while his long-separated love looks on, is one of the classic moments in 1950’s Japanese cinema.

 

Saturday, October 12 – 7:45 PM

Raizo Ichikawa Double Feature

SCAR YOSABURO (KIRARE YOSABURO), 1960, Daiei, 94 min. Director Daisuke Ito was a combination John Ford/King Vidor in Japan, a silent film pioneer who thrived in the sound era with his intelligent and romantic period pieces that never resorted to cheap sentiment. In SCAR YOSABURO, vengeful yakuza thugs mutilate the face of an actor (Raizo Ichikawa) after he’s caught with the gang boss’s mistress. Despite his physical and emotional wounds, Yosaburo manages to find true love with a young noblewoman (Manami Fuji) being victimized by villains – until the lovers are forced to flee, with both police and gang in hot pursuit. A misty, moonlit tale from kabuki origins and a stirring classic of Japanese period cinema.

THE LONE STALKER (HITORI OKAMI) 1968, Daiei, 83 min. An excellent example of the matatabi (samurai gambler) picture, THE LONE STALKER ranks as one of Raizo Ichikawa’s all-time best. Employing flashbacks within flashbacks and a style poised somewhere between Budd Boetticher and early Sergio Leone, director Kazuo Ikehiro charts the chivalrous Ichikawa’s descent from young-man-in-love to vengeance-obsessed wanderer. With Isamu Nagato, Mayumi Ogawa.

 

Sunday, October 13 – 5:00 PM

New 35mm Blind Swordsman Print!

ZATOICHI’S FIGHTING JOURNEY aka ZATOICHI AND THE SCOUNDRELS (ZATOICHI KENKA TABI -- #5 in series), 1963, Janus/Daiei, 87 min. Dir. Kimiyoshi Yasuda. Once again, humble, peace-loving masseur Ichi (Shintaro Katsu) finds himself the target of warring yakuza – some want the bounty on his head, others want to hire him for his legendary sword skills. Meanwhile, he’s busy trying to safely escort a kidnapped woman (Shiho Fujimura) back to her family without getting killed in the process. With Reiko Fujiwara.

 

Sunday, October 13 –7:00 PM

Double Feature!

DESTINY’S SON (KIRU) 1962, Daiei, 71 min. Raizo Ichikawa stars as a swordsman bent on revenge after his adoptive family are murdered by a jealous bureaucrat. Director Kenji Misumi creates an astonishing, dreamlike samurai film from Kaneto Shindo’s amazing script – a demonic masterpiece awash with brilliant blues and reds, and fueled by the most deranged organ score we’ve ever heard. With Masayo Banri.

SECRETS OF A COURT MASSEUR (SHIRANUI KENGYO), 1960, Daiei, 91 min. Strangely enough, the ZATOICHI series was not the first time Shintaro Katsu played a blind masseur/killer! But here, in director Kazuo Mori’s stark period fable, Katsu is anything but a selfless hero. Instead, his shrewd, greedy masseur murders his way to the top of the social and political ladder, taking time to rudely seduce Tamao Nakamura (Katsu’s real-life spouse) along the way.