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Black River (Kuroi Kawa)


Dir. Masaki Kobayashi. 1956, 114 mins. 35mm. With Ineko Arima, Fumio Watanabe, Tatsuya Nakadai. Nakadai, in his first major role, plays Joe, a young yakuza kingpin who will do anything to turn a buck. An indictment of the corruption engendered by the presence of U.S. military bases and the Japanese system which allowed such lawlessness to go unpunished, Black River focuses on a triangular relationship between Joe, student Nishida (Watanabe), and a young waitress Shizuko (Arima), for whom they both compete, while Joe conspires with an amoral landlady to sell the building in which Nishida and Shizuko live. Made with a freewheeling, experimental spirit, Black River is an important precursor of the Japanese New Wave to come.

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