Monthly Classics

Photos: © Kadokawa Pictures, Inc.

With the centennial of director Akira Kurosawa’s birth coming up, 2010 will certainly be the year of sword fighting films (chambara)! While Kurosawa will always remain the "Emperor", two actors dominated postwar Japanese genre cinema: Daiei Studios’ cult stars Shintaro Katsu (1931-1997) and Raizo Ichikawa (1931-1969).

Two actors, two styles, apparently poles apart yet actually complementary: earthy Katsu was the affable anti-idol rogue, unpredictable on- and off-screen, while ethereal, coolly enigmatic Ichikawa was considered the “James Dean of Japan”. Beyond their differences, both stars instilled in their roles a poisonous poetry and existential angst that lifted their art into genre-transcending territory. Curated by Chris D., genre film expert and author of Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film.

Read Chris D.'s Bio
Read the full curatorial statement (PDF)

Two of the most versatile, underrated and comparatively unknown movie performers post-WWII were not from America or Europe, but from Japan. Shintaro Katsu and Raizo Ichikawa defined their generation as surely as actors like Robert Mitchum, Montgomery Clift, James Dean and Clint Eastwood defined theirs. And like Mitchum and Eastwood they were equally at home in rugged action roles as in heavy drama and light comedy. Katsu’s blind swordman Zatoichi and Ichikawa’s misanthropic halfbreed samurai Kyoshiro Nemuri stand out as unforgettable, iconic characters on the panoramic screen of 20th century world cinema. – Chris D.

Join us for this retrospective honoring two Japanese film legends.

「月例クラシックス」シリーズ第3弾 『勝新太郎・市川雷蔵 チャンバラ映画特集』


Samurai Vendetta:
A Chronicle of Pale Cherry Blossoms

Friday, December 11, 2009, 7:30 PM
Directed by Kazuo Mori, 1959
Opening screening introduced by series curator Chris D., with reception and book signing.

Zatoichi, the Fugitive

Friday, January 22, 2010, 7:30 PM
Directed by Tokuzo Tanaka, 1963

Destiny's Son

Friday, February 19, 2010, 7:30 PM
Directed by Kenji Misumi, 1962

Zatoichi On the Road: Fighting Journey

Saturday, March 20, 2010, 5:00 PM
Directed by Kimiyoshi Yasuda, 1963

Scar Yosaburo

Saturday, March 20, 2010, 7:00 PM
Directed by Daisuke Ito, 1960

New Tale of Zatoichi

Saturday, April 24, 2010, 5:00 PM

Directed by Tokuzo Tanaka, 1963

Nemuri Kyoshiro At Bay:
The Sword of Seduction

A.K.A. Sleepy Eyes of Death 4
眠狂四郎 女妖剣
Saturday, April 24, 2010, 7:00 PM
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro, 1964

The Lone Stalker a.k.a. Lone Wolf Isazo

Friday, May 14, 2010, 6:30 PM
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro, 1968

The Devil's Temple

Friday, May 14, 2010, 8:30 PM
Directed by Kenji Misumi, 1969

Japan Society’s 2009-2010 Film Programs are generously supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.

Additional support is provided by The Globus Family, Yoshiko and Tim Schilt, David S. Howe, Dr. Tatsuji Namba, Joshua S. Levine and Nozomi Terao, Elaine Sheng and Samuel Jamier, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency.

The reception for Samurai Vendetta is sponsored by The Globus Family.

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