22 July 2020 | morrison-dylan-fan
Port of Shadows.
After seeing The Sleeping Beast Within (1960-also reviewed) I checked the notes in the Arrow box set on the title. Intrigued to find it was the first of two movies the film maker did in a row which had a newsroom setting, I got set to break the O-Line.
Note:Review contains spoilers.
View on the film:
The only one in the set to feature a extra audio commentary, Arrow present a shining transfer of a crisp image and clean soundtrack.
Being the one crew member who remained with the director across his Nikkatsu period, editor Akira Suzuk'si collaboration with directing auteur Seijun Suzuki takes a whirlwind progression in their experimental Film Noir stylisation, with a striking French New Wave-flavoured influence of razor sharp jump-cuts, smash-cuts and fluid hand held panning shots getting up-close to Katori's rush to grab the big story.
Sailing to the rusting port of Yokohoma, Seijun Suzuki lands and continues to explore his major recurring theme from this era of Film Noir pessimism in the outdoor locations of urban Japan.
Suzuki unleashes a storming set-piece tracking Katori (played by a excellent,brittle Hiroyuki Nagao) slithering the docks to a smugglers ship, where Suzuki brings in a smog Film Noir atmosphere, made from shoving Katori and the camera into the piles of coal covering the ship, only picking up Katori to take him down long claustrophobic corridor shots, where black and white grime covers the walls as the shipmates confront Katori when his motives for being on the ship are found.
Reuniting with Suzuki after Eight Hours of Terror (1957-also reviewed) Goro Tanada takes the sliver of hope from The Sleeping Beast Within, and along with Yasuro Yokoyama (the other credited writers are aliases for unknowns) wipes it all out.
The writers present the upstanding morals of fellow journalist Nishina, get stamped over by Katori's amoral arrogance, which reveals itself when Katori plants drugs on a dame he has just bedded, allows his sister to be abused by gangs, and sees little wrong about working with a drug smuggler, as long as the one thing that remains intact,Is his singular vision to smash the o line.