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Directed by Seijun Suzuki

Japan 1963 92 mins.

Based on a book by Taiko Hirabayashi, one of Japan’s most famous female novelists, Kanto Wanderer puts a Suzukian spin on the classic yakuza movie conflict between giri (duty) and ninjo (humanity). Nikkatsu superstar Akira Kobayashi plays Katsuta, a fearsome yakuza bodyguard torn between defending his boss against a rival gang leader and his obsession with Tatsuko, a femme fatale who reappears from his past. Suzuki uses this traditional story to experiment with color and to indulge his interest in Kabuki theater techniques and effects, most notably in the stunning final battle, in which the scenery falls away to reveal a field of pure blood red. “As an example of Suzuki’s mid-period output at Nikkatsu, Kanto Wanderer offers us an inspiring sample of experimentation on assignment.”—Margaret Barton-Fumo, Senses of Cinema. Print courtesy of the Japan Foundation. (Japanese with English subtitles)

Read Margaret Barton-Fumo’s essay on Kanto Wanderer for Senses of Cinema (6/2012)