Friday, August 21, 2015


This Blog is moving to another site.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Composition Class (1938)

Hideko Takamine in "Composition Class (1938)"

Along the east bank of the Arakawa river in Tokyo, there is a place called Yotsugi. The place is a part of Katsushika, the lower town of the metropolis. Today, this neighborhood looks as generic as any other residential area, but rather chaotic web of narrow streets tells you the place has been developed with little total grand design. In 1930's, the place was filled with rows and rows of flimsy, jerry-built tenements for low-income families.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bing Crosby and Art of Recording

The BCE Mark II video recorder in early 1953. (l-r) Jack Mullin, Bing Crosby and Wayne Johnson

I found this article by Robert R. Phillips, the early magnetic recording engineer who worked at Bing Crosby Enterprises, on Engineering and Technology History Wiki site today. This is a fascinating read.

You may not know this, but Bing Crosby was the father of modern magnetic recording technology. Oh, I don't mean he spent hours fiddling with vacuum tubes and making solder joints. He just wrote a series of fat checks to engineers to build audio and video recorders so that he didn't have to deal with radio and TV live shows every week. He had his own laboratory (Electronics Division in Bing Crosby Entertainment) and a group of very talented engineers working for him.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Points and Lines (2007)

Yasunori Takahashi (left) and Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano)

In 2007, almost half a century after the first movie, "Points and Lines" was remade for TV. It was an ambitious endeavor for a TV drama; it was a 2-part program, almost 2 hours each, totaling 4 hours; because the story was set in 1950's, a huge budget was put into artworks and sets to recreate the era, and many of the location shootings were meticulously planned and executed not to give away anything modern; the story was reworked to be more convincing to modern audience while expanding the role of the detective from Fukuoka (Torikai), the role played by Takeshi Kitano. The results is a mixed bag, to say the least.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Points and Lines (1958)

"This is rather a lonely place, isn't it?"

A young woman told her male companion as they walked toward seashore from the railway station. It was already half past nine. More precisely, it was a few moments after 9:35 p.m. They apparently had arrived at the Nishitetsu-Kashii station near Fukuoka, Kyushu, at 9:35 p.m. and started toward the rocky beach of Kashii. A drunk passer-by overheard her words. He told so to police detectives weeks later. Next morning he overheard this enigmatic words, a woman and a man were found dead on the beach side by side. The local police concluded it was a double suicide. Detective Torikai didn't think so. And the federal police investigating a political scandal in Tokyo didn't think so either. The man who died beside his lover was the key witness to the scandal. He went to the grave with all the dirty secrets.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

We Will Fight Until Hell Freezes Over... (Part 2)

The Poster for "Until the Day of Victory (1945)"
(via. NFC/MOMAT)
Another film of 1945, "Until the Day of Victory (勝利の日まで, 1945)" is directed by Mikio Naruse, the film was released in January of that year. Judging from the synopsis, it seems quite an odd ball for Naruse. It was about a "mad" scientist who invented a new bomb, which delivers entertainment to soldiers in the fronts, rather than deaths to enemies. It seems 15-minute fragment survives in the NFC archive. I have never seen this fragment, but the productions stills from the movie are quite tantalizing. I have no idea how this film did in terms of box office. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

We Will Fight Until Hell Freezes Over... (Part 1)

"Eiga Gijutu (Cinema Technology)" Cover, March 1943

According to Japanese Movie Database, total of 23 movies were released between January 1st and August 15th of 1945. That is the last seven and half months of Great Japanese Empire and its militaristic endeavor. In the same seven and half month in 1935, the ten years prior, the total of 289 movies were released. Thus, the leaders of the Empire miraculously reduced its cultural output by the factor of twelve within a decade, it seems. 

The filmmaking during the last days of the war faced serious setbacks. The materials, such as film stocks, various building materials for the sets, and lighting equipments were seriously in shortage. Blackouts were too often. Even cameras were not readily available, since the Interior Ministry had been adamantly advocating the need for propaganda newsreels and documentaries shot in the combat zones, and the cameramen had been sent off to China and Southeast Asia only to be perished along with the other soldiers. And their cameras had perished with them.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Few Odd Facts About Universal's Frankenstein

Probably one of the most discussed topics about popular Hollywood cinema is that of horror genre. Horror fans are the most loyal and devoted group of cinema aficionados, who spend enormous time and efforts on digging up the most arcane facts of their favorite films. Above all, Universal horror films are the most researched and discussed topics of all and, of course, "Frankenstein" and its sequels fascinate all of us to this day.

As I was preparing for the Japanese magazine article (in preparation), I read many of these treatises, writings and publications of extensive research and discussions. They are excellent and just interesting to read. Plus I did my own research myself, and some of my findings don't seem to have appeared in any of recent discussions on the topic, as far as I know. So I will share some of them. They are nothing ground-breaking or anything, just a few bits of trivia you might find interesting if you are familiar with Universal's Frankenstein series.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


It has been a long time since I have added the post here...

On Feburary 8, William Wellman's pre-code classic, "Night Nurse (1931)" was screened at EIGA 24-KU (Sendagaya, Tokyo) as a part of UNKNOWN HOLLYWOOD series. UNKNOWN HOLLYWOOD is the on-going movie screening events Ryo Tsunoda, a film critic and a writer, and I plan and produce, with the aim to introduce some of the overlooked Hollywood films (- 1952) to Japanese audience. For an each event, we set a theme to emphasize the cinema history, social significance, or cultural background. This time, the theme was "pre-code Hollywood". After the screening, we invited Mr. Danny Reid of, who is the foremost researcher on the subject right now and (luckily for us!) currently resides in Tokyo, to give us a special presentation on Pre-Code Hollywood cinema. It was a superb study on cinema history, well-researched and expertly presented. Here is the video of his presentation. Enjoy!

UNKNOWN HOLLYWOOD: Official Site (Japanese) and Twitter
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