Nippon Nights: TOKYO MIGHTY GUY
February 25 only
“I’ve had plenty of fingers to spare counting the vintage Japanese pop musicals I’ve seen, but boy I hope they’re all this cool.”–Matt Lynch, Letterbxed
Nippon Night welcomes the month of love with 1960’s TOKYO MIGHTY GUY, an unusual entry in Japanese studio history–a light-hearted but deliriously paced action/ musical starring megastar Akira Kobayashi!
In the late 1950s Nikkatsu studios would rise to prominence with a series of dark gangster films, many featuring dashing male stars like Jo Shishido ( BRANDED TO KILL ) , Yujiro Ishihara ( RUSTY KNIFE ), and Kobayashi. Akira earned the nickname “the Japanese Elvis” in part because of his laconic acting style and also because of his ability to carry a tune, as he would end up having a long recording career as well as scoring a hit crooning the title song from THE RAMBLING GUITARIST, a 1959 movie from Nikkatsu that spawned a series of sequels. While RAMBLING might have been one of the less dark of the harrowing Nikkatsu gangster dramas, it still was nothing like Kobayashi and RAMBLING director Buichi Saito’s follow-up vehicle TOKYO MIGHTY GUY, which draws more comparisons to Vincente Minnelli ( AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, in particular ) and Jacques Demy than Sam Fuller or Howard Hawks. in MIGHTY GUY, Kobayashi plays a punky youngster just returned from a stay overseas, where he has mastered the art of French cuisine. After an eye-popping opening musical sequence, Kobayashi informs one of his many admirers of his ambition to open a French restaurant in the Ginza district. This move has consequences, however, as the local yakuza gets involved in the burgeoning business and, in a plot curve that sends the movie into bawdy sex comedy territory, he becomes involved in the lives of his one of his co-workers. Fortunately for Akira’s hatred of “bullies,” he’s a champion wrestler as well as a master chef, so bad guys beware!
With eye-poppingly colorful Cinemascope photography, energetic pacing, and charming performances throughout, TOKYO MIGHTY GUY makes for an entertaining look at something different than the dark Japanese films from this period that are often screened. Come join us in February for this charming, quirky, energetic and rarely screened gem from Nikkatsu’s “Golden Age!”