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Ankokugai no Bijo

Underworld Beauty
Beauty of the Underworld

Japan 1958
produced by
Nikkatsu
directed by Seijun Suzuki
starring Mari Shiraki, Michitaro Mizushima, Yusuke Ashida, Toru Abe, Hideaki Nitani
written by Susumu Saji, music by Naozumi Yamamoto

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When Miyamoto comes out of prison after a 3-year-stretch for a diamond heist, he has only one objective: to give the stones of same heist to Mihara, his partner at that job who was crippled at this job, as a compensation for his injuries. Even Oyane, Miyamoto's old boss, seems to agree to his idea & he sets up a deal for the stones ...but from here on it goes wrong: When Miyamoto & Mihara want to hand over the stones, a gang of masked robbers appears out of nowhere (of course, they were originally hired by Oyane), but when they want to get the diqamonds, Migara swallows them, & falls off a high building to his death.

Everybody wants to get his hands on Mihara's corpse now, but then there's also his sister Akiko (Mari Shiraki), who makes Oyane & his gang & Miyamoto responsible for the death of her borther & won't let anybody near the corpse (she doesn't know about the diamonds inside her brother's body, though) - anybody but her friend Arita that is, who manages to get Akiko out of the way long enough to cut Mihara's body open & take out the diamonds - unbeknowest to anyone else.

The rest of the gangsters desperately try to get their hands on the body before it is burned, even accompanying it in the hearse - but when detective Watanabe, an old friend of Mihara, decides to go in the hearse as well, they find it impossible to open the corpse without arousing suspicion ... & Mihara burns.

End of story ? Of course not, as Miyamoto, when he tries to set Akiko, who has taken to petty thieving & heavy drinking, straight, discovers that Arita has the diamonds, manages to get the stones from him & convince Akiko Arita is not all she thinks he is. Unfortunately, not only Miyamoto knows that Arita has the stoness but also Oyane & his gang, & they pick the very same moment to get the stones that Miyamoto has picked - & only because Akiko is alert enough to hide the stones inside a shopwindow mannequin - which Arita produces & sells as a way of livibng - just in time, can she keep the stones from falling into the wrong hands ...

But due to a series of unfortunate events the mannequin is delivered off to some custoer right away ...

But while Miyamoto makes every effort to get the mannequin back from its rightful owner, Oyane & Arita try a rather different approach, as Oyane kidnaps Akiko & tells Miyamoto he will only set her free in exchange for the diamonds.

Miyamoto, who has intended to give the diamonds to Akiko anyways, agrees to this, but knows of course that for the handover he has to go to Oyane's house, the lion's den, as Oyane does not even intend to stick to the deal - letting the girl & Miyamoto go - & it all ends in a massive shoot-out, not only between Miyamoto & Oyane & his gang, but also Arita gets between the lines when he gets too greedy, & he is shot dead by his associate Oyane himself.

In the end, Miyamoto & Akiko are holed up in a coal cellar, where they are supposed to be steamed out, but with luck they can shovel a way out for Akiko, so she can get the police, before the place catches fire, & Miyamoto can muster up just enough energy to shoot dead Oyane before breaking down from exhaustion ...

Later, he wakes up in a hospital, heavily injured, & informed that he will be sent back to prison ... but at least he seems to have set Akiko straight.

& the diamonds, you might ask. They were destroyed in the burning coal cellar ...

 

A macabre gangster-movie that is similar to American film noir in both style & story (without being an outright copy), director Suzuki manages to tag a few new twists onto the story - especially when the object of everyone's desire is transformed from diamonds into a corpse, then a shopwindow mannequin - that allow it to transcend genre conventions & be at the same time a great genre-movie, a dark comedy & an original work of art - & a very entertaining one at that.

 

 

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD