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House of Bamboo (Fox Film Noir)

41 customer reviews

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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

Special Features

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

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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006UEVVI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,250 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "House of Bamboo (Fox Film Noir)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 15, 2005
Format: DVD
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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43 of 54 people found the following review helpful By LGwriter on February 24, 2005
Format: DVD
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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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 23, 2006
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
"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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