Tag Archives: Koreyoshi Kurahara

Two-Fisted Noir…Japanese Style

<< Trains? Waterfront docks at night? Rain-slick shiny pavements under halo-sporting street lights? >>

Well sure.

Director Koreyoshi Kurahara’s 1957 criminous flick, I AM WAITING is on the menu tonight.

<< Black and white? Sweat-spraying boxing matches? Crinkly blue international postal envelopes? Cigarettes disdainfully lit by wooden matches which are then disdainfully flung into the sea? >>

Most certainly.

Yojiro Ishihara plays Joji, a promising young welterweight who’s been banned from boxing and now runs a diner while awaiting a summons from his brother to come to Brazil and be a farmer…a summons that never comes.

Guess you can kiss that dream goodbye.

Joji is boyish and kind, with fierce loyalty and a fiercer uppercut.

<< Bars? Pool halls (with billiards, no less)? Dice games? The most inept gunsel since Elijah Cook Jr. in THE MALTESE FALCON? >>

Why not?

Saeko (Mie Kitahara) is an opera singer whose voice has been damaged by illness and now can only sing in cabarets for gangsters.

Guess you can kiss that dream goodbye.

Saeko ponders suicide, but can be dissuaded with a warm bowl of soup.

<< Trench coats? Shoulder pads? Drunken, disgraced doctor? >>

Yes, yes, and yes.

The soundtrack of the film is clever and effective. A lugubrious shot of two feet walking in the dark is accompanied by a slow tuneful whistling by the walker. A tense moment in the diner is backed by a cheap radio on the bar playing Rossini.

Some of the shots are just as imaginative. The first sea change in Joji and Saeko’s relationship is a night scene between two completely black silhouettes against the water…two unhopeful but hoping clean slates trying to find each other. The same two searchers later challenge each other on long quayside concrete slants of separating levels. Will they ever connect?

<< Sleazy gangsters? Sleepy detectives Short-order cook who was a former ocean liner chef? >>

All the basic ingredients.

This was a tasty dish.