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House of Bamboo (Fox Film Noir) (1955)

Robert Ryan , Robert Stack , Samuel Fuller  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Ryan, Robert Stack, Cameron Mitchell, Brad Dexter, Shirley Yamaguchi
  • Directors: Samuel Fuller
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 4.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: June 7, 2005
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006UEVVI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,498 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "House of Bamboo (Fox Film Noir)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Fox Movietone News: Behind-the-scenes footage, Landing in Japan
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Spanish trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In Tokyo a ruthless gang holds up U.S. ammunition trains. Ex-serviceman Eddie Spannier arrives from the States apparently at the invitation of one such unfortunate. But, Eddie isn't quite what he seems.

Samuel Fuller came up with one of his gutsiest "headline shots" for House of Bamboo: Mount Fuji, in CinemaScope, framed between the boots of a U.S. soldier lying murdered on a snowy Japanese embankment. Happily, the movie that follows is no letdown. This brutal gangster film was the first American production to shoot in Japan, and Fuller exploits his locations to the max, up to and including a climactic gun battle around a Tokyo rooftop facsimile of the turning Earth. Officially the screenplay is credited to Harry Kleiner, with Fuller cited for "additional dialogue"; in actuality, the 20th Century-Fox movie transplants the basic premise of the Kleiner-scripted Street with No Name (1948) from an American Midwest town to Tokyo, but otherwise the picture is unmistakably Fuller's own. A gang of American expatriates is robbing U.S. military ammunition and supply trains, and using military tactics to do it. They're a ruthless bunch, killing not only any troops and police that get in the way but also their own wounded. Robert Stack has a satisfyingly dark-edged role as an American drifter who's drafted into the gang, and Robert Ryan is mesmerizing as the psychotic crimelord. The action is tough--there's a genuinely shocking killing in a bathhouse--and Fuller's canny deployment of the newly widened screen is just as forceful. It's great to have this early-CinemaScope classic in widescreen DVD. --Richard T. Jameson

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
I was expecting a lot more from this movie than I got. On one level it's a fairly taut crime drama that takes place in Tokyo in the mid-Fifties. On the other hand, it has a lot of tough guy cliche dialogue and a performance by Robert Stack that is just not good. The story line is simple, but look out for spoilers ahead.

Sandy Dawson (Robert Ryan) heads up a gang of ex-servicemen in Tokyo who pull off robberies with military precision and complete ruthlessness. If anyone gets wounded, he's killed right then. The U.S. Army and the Japanese police join forces to crack the gang. They send in a ringer, Eddie Spanier (Robert Stack), to infiltrate the gang. Spanier is a false identity; he's actually an Army crime investigator. What follows is the story of Dawson's operation and how it works, and of Spanier gradually gaining Dawson's trust. The climax pits the two against against each other when Dawson at last learns of Spanier's real job.

The movie was shot in Tokyo and looks great. Anyone who has spent time there will recognize a number of locations. (One false note is when Samuel Fuller cuts to a scene that was actually filmed in Kamakura at the Great Buddha and at the Hachiman shrine.) Robert Ryan and, in a smaller role, Cameron Mitchell as Griff, his second in command, do first-rate jobs, especially Ryan. Sandy Dawson is a dangerous man, superficially polite and solicitous, but not far below the surface is a big ego, a streak of cruelty and what could be a hint of homoerotic feelings for Spanier. This isn't stressed, but it explains Dawson's actions concerning Spanier, and his intensity when he finds he has been betrayed. Dawson is also just a bit off. His last dialogue with a silent Griff is not that of a man who is in total command of his marbles. Ryan dominates the movie.
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42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ryan gives it punch February 24, 2005
This 1955 Sam Fuller film noir is basically saved, character-wise, by Robert Ryan who plays a vicious crime boss in, of all places, post-WW II Japan. The first American film shot there after the war, this is unique for that aspect. Ryan is great, as usual; I can't think of one film he's in that he doesn't make better than it is thanks to his presence. He runs a bunch of pachinko (read: pinball) parlors, a front for his crime operations which include robbing American supply trains of all kinds of stuff (the opening scene shows this really well).

Robert Stack plays an undercover cop who infiltrates Ryan's gang to find out exactly how the man murdered at the beginning of the film during the heist bought it. Thanks to not only colorful settings, but Ryan's great performance, this is better than it should be. The script is kind of ho-hum. Stack is OK, pretty good, not great; he's Robert Stack. He falls for the widow of the murdered guy; she's Japanese so Fuller brings in another (semi-)controversial element, interracial love (which he also did in Crimson Kimono).

Fuller's an original, no question. Whether that originality is always of high quality is questionable, but he does love to hit the viewer in the face with issues challenging social convention and in that respect, he's definitely worth watching. When he's great--as in Pickup on South Street, or Shock Corridor--where everything fits together and purrs like a Ford Cobra engine--he's unbeatable. Here, in House of Bamboo, he gets some of the issues in, but the story is nowhere near as strong as it could or should be.

Worth seeing. Owning? I dunno.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fuller power April 23, 2006
House of Bamboo isn't a great movie, but it sure is a good one, and certainly the most lavish of Sam Fuller's career. Robert Stack's hardboiled lead is pure teak - he actually makes his Elliot Ness look hip and laidback by comparison - but luckily Robert Ryan is on hand to dominate proceedings with his sheer presence and talent. Graced with a great entrance, Ryan makes much more of his quietly hubristic, possibly gay gangster than was probably ever on the page: his monologue to a man he has just murdered as he gently, sensitively holds the corpse's head above water is genuinely shocking. Throw in a great use of colour and the widescreen (this was from the days when CinemaScope really WAS CinemaScope), and you may not have a 100% classic, but you've certainly got a visual treat.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
"House of Bamboo" is a loose remake of 1948's docudrama "The Street With No Name" written by Harry Kleiner. Director Samuel Fuller rewrote the screenplay and moved the action to occupied Japan in 1954. Fuller retained a bit of the police procedural style of "The Street With No Name" but uses the story to paint an unflattering picture of the American occupation of Japan, where the original film was virtual propaganda for Hoover's FBI. "House of Bamboo" tends to emphasize theme and give characters short shrift, while "The Street With No Name" included some solid character writing and a memorable performance by Richard Widmark as gangster Alec Stiles. Robert Ryan plays the bad guy in "House of Bamboo", and he was as great a character actor as Widmark. But you wouldn't know it from this film. Ryan isn't given much to do as crime boss Sandy Dawson. Co-incidentally, cinematographer Joe MacDonald shot both of the films. He shot "The Street With No Name" in low and high key black and white. "House of Bamboo" is widescreen and in color, filmed in the anamorphic 35mm format CinemaScope. Fuller and MacDonald make excellent use of the widescreen format, and the cinematography is the film's great strength.

When a gang of hoodlums robs a supply train carrying Japanese civilians and American military supplies across the Japanese countryside, the Criminal Investigation Division of the Military Police are called upon to investigate. Sergeant Keller (Robert Stack) goes undercover, posing as Eddie Spanier, old friend of a gangster killed on the job. His first order of business is to track down the dead man's anguished wife, Mariko (Shirley Yamaguchi), who knows nothing of her husband's work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie and Quick delivery
Saw the film many years ago. I bought the DVD because I couldn't find a movie on Netflix. it's a great movie to watch and I'll recommend it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tony
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, also
Purchased to archieve for family members to review and observe their family member who played a short part in picture. Read more
Published 3 months ago by teacher
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Bamboo
It's a powerful, dramatic movie and has various layers beneath its surface as a film noir. The mistreatment of many of the Japanese actors (including the wonderful female star) is... Read more
Published 6 months ago by z. peter mitchell
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT a film noir
Nothing spooky here and little mystery. No femme fatale. No innocent person accused/confused. As others have noted, more a mundane gangster film than a film noir. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Miss Yoka
5.0 out of 5 stars Great glimpse of post-war Japan
While the plot of the movie is really pedestrian and the acting abilities of Robert Ryan and Robert Stack are never challenged, this film affords a unique view of both Tokyo and... Read more
Published on September 22, 2010 by Timothy J. Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Most controversial film of Sam Fuller.
"I hate it!" "Its so so." "It was great!" Sure, no great films could satisfy everybody's taste, but no other film is so controversial as Sam Fuller's HOUSE OF BAMBOO. Read more
Published on February 17, 2010 by Keisuke Kawasaki
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly Good Lost Treasure
Robert Ryan & Robert Stack (yep, the guy from "Unsolved Mysteries") vie for control of Tokyo's underworld. Read more
Published on April 24, 2008 by telecaster62
4.0 out of 5 stars SAMUEL FULLER, OPUS 8
***1/2 1955. Directed by Samuel Fuller. Tokyo. A military police officer investigates the murder of an American soldier killed by Robert Ryan's gang. Read more
Published on April 15, 2008 by Daniel S.
1.0 out of 5 stars What a Turkey
I love Robert Ryan but even he could not save this boring script.
What could have been an amazing piece of pop action history ends up a boring love story. BUMMER
Published on April 7, 2008 by Alan L. Wong
3.0 out of 5 stars The location shooting is the real star...
Robert Ryan easily outshines Robert Stack in this rigid, brittle noir flick... The script is a bit clunky, but what's most fascinating here is the on-location shooting in an urban... Read more
Published on December 17, 2007 by DJ Joe Sixpack
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