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Kurosen Chitai

Black Line

Japan 1960
produced by
Mitsugu Okura for Shintoho
directed by Teruo Ishii
starring Utako Mitsuya, Shigeru Amachi, Toshio Hosokawa, Yoko Mihara, Hiroshi Asami, Hiroshi Ayukawa, Seiji Hara, Yuzo Harumi, Shogo Itane, Miho Jo, Kyoko Katsura, Daijiro Kikukawa, Sosuke Kuni, Hiroaki Kurahashi, Keiko Minakami, Koichi Miya, Ryuji Moriyama, Yuji Murayama, Yoko Nanbara, Yoji Naruto, Masaru Odaka, Tomohiko Ohtani, Jun Otomo, Reiko Seto, Junko Uozumi, Kuniko Yamamura, Kyoko Yashiro, Masayo Yoshida
written by Teruo Ishii, Ichiro Miyagawa, music by Chumei Watanabe

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Reporter Scoop is hell-bent on exposing the Black Line, an illegal drug and prostitution racket - but when he tries to get in touch with a prostitute he considers a key informer in the story, he is drugged, and the next morning finds himself in a hotel room, next to her naked strangled body. He knows he's in a jam, but at least he manages to leave the hotel before the police arriuves. He's sure they will eventually catch up with him anyways, but as for now a little headstart is the best he can hope for.

Eventually he catches up with the maid who has served him the drugged drink, but before she can tell him anything, she's run over by a car, which is a clear case of murder.

Rather incidently, Scoop meets schoolgirl Misako (Utako Mitsuya), who studies in a school for doll making and sometime does deliveries for her school as well. It's not long before Scoop figures out though that the dolls are actually filled with drugs, and the schoolgirls are used as drug couriers without their knowledge. Plus, eventually the girls are hooked on drugs and sold into prostitution. Soon enough, Misako vanishes, which might have to do with the Black Line, but Scoop picks up another lead in the form of Maya (Yoko Mihara), a woman who has posed as fortune teller who has lured him into the trap in the beginning of the film, but who is not really with the Black Line and who soon enough falls in love with Scoop.

With Maya's help, Scoop manages to evade the police who's now after him time and again, and her information ultimately leads him to the boss of the Black Line, who keeps Misako hostage. Rather naively, Scoop walks into the Black Line's lair through the front door and thinks he can just beat the organisation's boss into giving himself up, but is soon overcome by the Black Line's henchmen Sabu and Killer Joe, whom Scoop knows to actually be behind the murder he is framed with. Then though Sabu and Killer Joe shoot their own boss to take over the organisation, and that provides Scoop with an opportunity to make an escape, and while Misako calls the authorities, Scoop ends up doking it out with Sabu on a speeding train - and beating him into submission.

The ending finds Scoop cleared of all charges, but his love Maya will probably have to do a prison stint for her involvement with the whole case.

 

A movie that starts out great: The first few sequences, when Scoop tries to get his hands on a prostitute, is drugged, finds himself in bed next to her corpse, and then tracks down the maid who is murderd before his very eyes, are simply greaat, tightly directed, accompanied by a really cool jazz score, and look incredibly hip. After these scenes though, when the actual story sets in, the film loses most of its steam, basically because the film as a whole isn't all that well-written, the plot relies a bit too much on simple coincidence, it only creates a limitd amount of tension and suspense (though there are pretty suspenseful isolated scenes), and its resolution seems to be pulled out of a hat because the movie's running time is over rather than carefully constructed. Still, a pretty entertaining thriller with traces of American film noirs, but not the film it could have been with a better script.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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directed by
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written by
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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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