Friday, June 28, 2019

The Guitar and the Gangster

A troubled young man drifts into a seaside town and almost immediately is offered a cushy position in the local organised crime outfit. In 1959's The Rambling Guitarist, (ギターを持った渡り鳥), Akira "Mighty Guy" Kobayashi stars as the handsome, vulnerable lad with a tough exterior. This is one of the many formulaic yakuza movies pumped out by Nikkatsu in the late 50s and 60s but it's a particularly good one. Kobayashi's musical numbers justify putting the guitar in the title and exciting location shots fill the film with energy, particularly several scenes shot on a cargo boat in genuinely rough waters.

Watching Kobayashi and Joe Shishido maintain cheeky gangster poise in their meticulous suits and coats on deck while the whole world bobs up and down behind them is enough to make the film worth watching.

Both of those actors have fantastic entrances in the film. Especially Shishido because I didn't know he was in the movie. Taki (Kobayashi) is in his boss's office when suddenly a rumpled coat on the couch starts to laugh. The man beneath it, George (Shishido), throws it off to reveal he'd been there the whole time. "Ah, you're awake," says Akitsu (Nobuo Kaneko), the boss.

Kobayashi of course makes an entrance at the beginning of the film, waking up in the back of a farm truck, but he has a better one later in the film when another gangster walks on stage, terrifying everyone, including the sexy mambo dancer who impulsively stops to stare in horror. Then a whistled tune presages Taki as it's revealed the other mobster has a fatal knife in the back.

Things get less interesting toward the end of the film but there're plenty of great moments to make up for it. The Rambling Guitarist is available on Amazon Prime.

Twitter Sonnet #1250

A sketch of glowing eyes observed the school.
The marching trees divert from castle grounds.
The planet curled in massive heaps of wool.
The gathered dreams've paused to hear the sounds.
Discussions spread from bourbon bottle glass.
A yellow car's obtained amidst the crowds.
A thousand souls traverse the metal pass.
A millions shows project on canvas clouds.
A garden's planted late for sandwich needs.
The fleet of marks upon the wall were snails.
A mark of time was writ by counting beads.
Among the columns swam a pod of whales.
A paper flutters round the fingertips.
Ideas became a scattershot of clips.

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