Plains Wanderer (Daisogen no wataridori)
Friday, March 14, 2008
1960, 83 min., 35mm, color. Directed by Buichi Saito. With Akira Kobayashi, Ruriko Asaoka, Jo Shishido.
In the nine-part Wanderer series (1959-1962), Akira Kobayashi plays Taki, a man with the looks of a Western hero--from a horse to fringe, a guitar and even a trusty bullwhip--traveling on Japan’s back roads. Taki involves himself in a fight alongside the Ainu (Japan’s aborigines) against a developer who wants to turn their land into an airstrip. In addition to having the landowner's niece fall in love with him, Taki finds a rival then an ally in Masa (Shishido) as they exchange snappy banter and slick moves throughout the film.
Recycling genre conventions already familiar to most American audiences, but with a Japanese twist, "Eastern Westerns" like Plains Wanderer were a popular subgenre within Nikkatsu Action, most of them featuring a good-hearted hero battling injustice against the majestic outdoor backdrop of mountainous, remote Hokkaido.
Tickets: $10/$7 Japan Society members & seniors/ $4.50 students (first 20 tickets per screening). Purchase tickets online above or call the Box Office at (212) 715-1258.