Tuesday, June 04, 2019

A Young Yakuza can Only Sing of Escape

Life's tough for Jiro. In 1958's Red Pier (赤い波止場) he's the handsome young yakuza with a golden voice, born on the wrong side of the tracks, saviour of children, and the object of all consuming passion for two beautiful women. If you're looking for a romanticised take on yakuza with a teen heartthrob, this would be a good choice.

Starring Yujiro Ishihara as Jiro, sadly he only has one musical number, though it's effective. An oddly challenging song he sings on a rooftop by that pier.

There's also a few dance numbers involving one of the girls in love with Jiro, Mami (Yukiko Todoroki), the Bad Girl. In this movie, nothing is sexier than mambo.

The Good Girl, Mami's rival, is Keiko (Mie Kitahara), whose young nephew Jiro narrowly manages to pull out of the path of a careening taxi. Unfortunately, Jiro's gang is also responsible for the death of Keiko's brother, who gets it with a dock crane at the beginning of the movie.

Jiro laments the life which has made him a yakuza through and through but always wears a smile, albeit a bitter one. The movie doesn't really deal him as rough a hand as the heroes of some other yakuza movies, though, and this one isn't nearly as good as another Ishihara movie from the same year, Rusty Knife, also co-starring Mie Kitahara. But Red Pier has a few good action scenes and a recurring, amusing piece of business where Jiro uses firecrackers to counterfeit the sound of gunfire. There's a really effective showdown sequence between two supporting characters at a festival and a nice fist fight between Jiro and another yakuza played by Hideaki Nitani. Red Pier is available on Amazon Prime.

Twitter Sonnet #1242

A pair of feet appeared above the fence.
As Thisbe kissed the wall a silence fell.
As plaster whirled about in present tense.
A figure's hat concealed his hairpiece well.
An av'rage day decides a harder cloud.
Acknowledged moves recalled preserve the ball.
Selected horns convey the waltzes loud.
The greatest dancers list along the wall.
Pyjama beans were counted sleepy now.
In jars of beds the numbered sheets were wrapped.
A circus thought became a sturdy bow.
A team of cats would take a practised nap.
A sheet of dust creates the tomes beneath.
A language came of light and shade bequeath.

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