Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfilment centres, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA products qualify for FREE Super Saver Shipping
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
This film was made just after the second World War. It is filmed in Japan and has many real locations featured ( nice shot of one of the most famous statues of The Buddha in the world). The war is over so the Japanese population is portrayed as calm , upstanding , law abiding individuals , and the bad guys are American ex-patriots who stayed after the war. There have been some decent attempts at film noir working in colour , but this isn't one of them. The whole movie seems contrived and somewhat silly. It would be of interest only to fans of the stars involved , and despite being crappy could never make it as a cult movie. I would bet that some USA agency bankrolled it , as it's the only way I can imagine that it got made at all.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Flawed, But With An Excellent Robert Ryan PerformanceJune 15 2005
C. O. DeRiemer
- Published on Amazon.com
I was expecting a lot more from this movie than I got. On one level it's a fairly taut crime drama that takes place in Tokyo in the mid-Fifties. On the other hand, it has a lot of tough guy cliche dialogue and a performance by Robert Stack that is just not good. The story line is simple, but look out for spoilers ahead.
Sandy Dawson (Robert Ryan) heads up a gang of ex-servicemen in Tokyo who pull off robberies with military precision and complete ruthlessness. If anyone gets wounded, he's killed right then. The U.S. Army and the Japanese police join forces to crack the gang. They send in a ringer, Eddie Spanier (Robert Stack), to infiltrate the gang. Spanier is a false identity; he's actually an Army crime investigator. What follows is the story of Dawson's operation and how it works, and of Spanier gradually gaining Dawson's trust. The climax pits the two against against each other when Dawson at last learns of Spanier's real job.
The movie was shot in Tokyo and looks great. Anyone who has spent time there will recognize a number of locations. (One false note is when Samuel Fuller cuts to a scene that was actually filmed in Kamakura at the Great Buddha and at the Hachiman shrine.) Robert Ryan and, in a smaller role, Cameron Mitchell as Griff, his second in command, do first-rate jobs, especially Ryan. Sandy Dawson is a dangerous man, superficially polite and solicitous, but not far below the surface is a big ego, a streak of cruelty and what could be a hint of homoerotic feelings for Spanier. This isn't stressed, but it explains Dawson's actions concerning Spanier, and his intensity when he finds he has been betrayed. Dawson is also just a bit off. His last dialogue with a silent Griff is not that of a man who is in total command of his marbles. Ryan dominates the movie. Unfortunately, the movie is about the efforts to catch Ryan's character, and these efforts center on Robert Stack's character. Stack just isn't a good enough actor. Sam Fuller evidently wanted Stack to play Eddie Spanier like a real tough guy, but Stack can't carry it off. He "acts" like a tough guy would walk and move. He "acts" the way a tough guy would speak and sound. It's phony from the first sentence out of Stack's mouth, and it undercuts the effectiveness of the story.
The romance scenes between Stack and Shirley Yamaguchi seem stilted and almost unnecessary, but Fuller pumps up the tension on the action sequences. The train robbery, the robbery at the cement factory and the set up for the robbery of the bank bus are well handled. And the showdown between Dawson and Spanier, with the Tokyo police, at a children's fun park high on top of a business building is great. On balance, however, House of Bamboo's strong points seem to me to be a nice performance by Robert Ryan and some great scenery. The DVD picture is first rate.
42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Ryan gives it punchFeb. 24 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
This 1955 Sam Fuller film noir is basically saved, character-wise, by Robert Ryan who plays a vicious crime boss in, of all places, post-WW II Japan. The first American film shot there after the war, this is unique for that aspect. Ryan is great, as usual; I can't think of one film he's in that he doesn't make better than it is thanks to his presence. He runs a bunch of pachinko (read: pinball) parlors, a front for his crime operations which include robbing American supply trains of all kinds of stuff (the opening scene shows this really well).
Robert Stack plays an undercover cop who infiltrates Ryan's gang to find out exactly how the man murdered at the beginning of the film during the heist bought it. Thanks to not only colorful settings, but Ryan's great performance, this is better than it should be. The script is kind of ho-hum. Stack is OK, pretty good, not great; he's Robert Stack. He falls for the widow of the murdered guy; she's Japanese so Fuller brings in another (semi-)controversial element, interracial love (which he also did in Crimson Kimono).
Fuller's an original, no question. Whether that originality is always of high quality is questionable, but he does love to hit the viewer in the face with issues challenging social convention and in that respect, he's definitely worth watching. When he's great--as in Pickup on South Street, or Shock Corridor--where everything fits together and purrs like a Ford Cobra engine--he's unbeatable. Here, in House of Bamboo, he gets some of the issues in, but the story is nowhere near as strong as it could or should be.
Worth seeing. Owning? I dunno.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Fuller powerApril 23 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
House of Bamboo isn't a great movie, but it sure is a good one, and certainly the most lavish of Sam Fuller's career. Robert Stack's hardboiled lead is pure teak - he actually makes his Elliot Ness look hip and laidback by comparison - but luckily Robert Ryan is on hand to dominate proceedings with his sheer presence and talent. Graced with a great entrance, Ryan makes much more of his quietly hubristic, possibly gay gangster than was probably ever on the page: his monologue to a man he has just murdered as he gently, sensitively holds the corpse's head above water is genuinely shocking. Throw in a great use of colour and the widescreen (this was from the days when CinemaScope really WAS CinemaScope), and you may not have a 100% classic, but you've certainly got a visual treat.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Post-War Japan in CinemaScope: Gorgeous Cinematography & Ugly Americans.Oct. 13 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
"House of Bamboo" is a loose remake of 1948's docudrama "The Street With No Name" written by Harry Kleiner. Director Samuel Fuller rewrote the screenplay and moved the action to occupied Japan in 1954. Fuller retained a bit of the police procedural style of "The Street With No Name" but uses the story to paint an unflattering picture of the American occupation of Japan, where the original film was virtual propaganda for Hoover's FBI. "House of Bamboo" tends to emphasize theme and give characters short shrift, while "The Street With No Name" included some solid character writing and a memorable performance by Richard Widmark as gangster Alec Stiles. Robert Ryan plays the bad guy in "House of Bamboo", and he was as great a character actor as Widmark. But you wouldn't know it from this film. Ryan isn't given much to do as crime boss Sandy Dawson. Co-incidentally, cinematographer Joe MacDonald shot both of the films. He shot "The Street With No Name" in low and high key black and white. "House of Bamboo" is widescreen and in color, filmed in the anamorphic 35mm format CinemaScope. Fuller and MacDonald make excellent use of the widescreen format, and the cinematography is the film's great strength.
When a gang of hoodlums robs a supply train carrying Japanese civilians and American military supplies across the Japanese countryside, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Military Police are called upon to investigate. Sergeant Keller (Robert Stack) goes undercover, posing as Eddie Spanier, old friend of a gangster killed on the job. His first order of business is to track down the dead man's anguished wife, Mariko (Shirley Yamaguchi), who knows nothing of her husband's work. Spanier's second order of business is to set himself up in the "protection" racket, where his attempts to extort money from pachinko parlors arouse the attention of the business' owner, an ex-G.I. named Sandy Dawson (Robert Ryan), who uses them as a front for his more sinister business dealing in stolen munitions. Dawson offers Spanier a position in his operation, and Mariko completes his cover by posing as Spanier's mistress, or "kimono girl".
The abundance of gorgeous cinematography in "House of Bamboo" makes it look expensive, but shooting in Japan actually allowed the film to be made fairly cheaply. Fuller's staging was influenced by Japanese cinema and Kabuki theater, which helps him cope with the widescreen format. This was one of the first films made in Japan after the war, and the colorful scenes of bustling Japanese streets and everyday life must have seemed exotic and novel to American audiences. Those scenes are still captivating. This screenplay takes a dim view of American military personnel, who are portrayed as predatory and culturally insensitive at best, a massive corrupting force at worst. Samuel Fuller always did like to make strong statements. The film's sympathy is with Mariko, although her characterization is basically chauvinistic. I have to give Sam Fuller credit, though, for pulling off a film that constantly criticizes its protagonist. Eddie Spanier is an ugly American. He exploits Mariko's vulnerability and confusion to involve her in a dangerous operation that dishonors her. He's a jerk. And Robert Stack's performance turns wooden as his character becomes less obnoxious and more romantic. Yet "House of Bamboo" succeeds. It's a beautiful film, and the story is good enough to string us along, so we can enjoy the exquisite color and composition.
The DVD (Fox Home Video 2005): This appears to be a restored print. The color is generally very good. But some momentary color shifts occur at the beginning and end of some scenes, which I attribute to the transfer. There are a few short bonus features plus a nice audio commentary. "Fox Movietone News: Behind-the-Scenes Footage" (2 minutes) is silent footage of Shirley Yamaguchi signing autographs and the cast, Sam Fuller, and producer Buddy Adler receiving flowers on the set. "Landing in Japan" (1 minute) is silent footage of Fuller and cast deplaning in Japan, perhaps a Japanese newsreel. "Fox Noir" are trailers for 4 other films. There are 2 theatrical trailers for this film: an English (2 minutes) and Spanish-language version (1 minute). Film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini do an interesting non-stop audio commentary for the film. They talk a lot about Samuel Fuller and the film's style, as well as themes, shots, characters, staging, and story. Subtitles for the film are available in English and Spanish. Dubbing is available in Spanish and French.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Robert Ryan is Magnificent!July 30 2005
- Published on Amazon.com
If you are a fan of crime drama, this one is must-have for your collection. The film has great acting, a perfect setting in post-war Tokyo, and can truly claim to have an all-star cast (with Robert Ryan in one of his best roles). Also a major plus is the commentary track, which provides valuable insights into the screenplay and making of the movie. House of Bamboo is also one of the rare film noir releases to be made in color during the classic years of the genre (1941-1958). Even after several viewings, there are small nuances that one notices for the first fime. A Samuel Fuller masterpiece not to be missed.