Wild, Retro & Quirky — Spies, Mini Skirts and Bikinis
The Bond phenomena was on fire and skyrocketing around the world. And what better form of flattery or fandom than creating your own 007s. In Japan there was no exception to that rule. They truly loved the genre and Sean Connery. In fact James Bond had been given a nickname in Japan- Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. And it made sense on the screen in any of the films up to that time virtually he was seen kissing and then firing his Walther PPK.
*Something to note is that the next 007 film to be released after one below was filmed in Japan.
So Japan gave us many incarnations of Bond and these films live up to that kinetic energy and at the same time have charm all their own. So welcome to another edition of Super Spy Sunday-The Early Edition and just in time for me to say Happy New Year!!! 2021. Here we go again turning the time back to the ’60s , the Pinky Chicks
and the Spy & Caper genres…
Above: collage featuring scenes from Iron Finger 1965
Here are 2 of my favorite flicks from Toho.
Which are non-Godzilla productions, that are not only highly entertaining films but offer smart-witty dialog with awesome locales, a cast that supports each others performances as well as providing quirky fun characters with a little bit of over the top acting when it comes to the major villains without taking away from the story or the movie going experience…
Iron Finger (1965) aka 100 Shot, 100 Killed dealing with gun smuggling and Golden Eyes 1968- aka Booted Babe, Busted Boss involving a massive hunt for gold. The two provide a delicious Asian take on the Euro spy/caper films that were popular in the mid to late 60’s and yet could easily have leaped off the pages of a comic book or a Speed Racer manga. Each production brings us into the world of a globe trotting, tongue in cheek, wink at the audience Interpol Agent or is he a famous hit man who goes by the name of Andy Hoshino.
Below- Akira Takarada and early publicity shot ,possible late ’50s
He is seen thru out each adventure writing post cards to mom- recanting his travel exploits with love played by the charismatic, very talented Akira Takarada.(King Kong Escapes & )..
For Andy things are not as they appear and neither are the people who populate his little corner but that is the what make these filcks so fun. Loaded with twists and turns plus stunning cinematography.
Both of these gems are directed by Jun Fukuda(Ebirah, Horror of the Deep). Offering up lots of eye candy in terms of the visuals, costumes & sets. The icing on the cake and complementing all the manic action are two multi-talented, gorgeous femme fatales played by Mei Hama of You Only Live Twice appears in Iron Finger only with Beverly “Bibari” Maeda (Son of Godzilla/ Vampire Hunter D) in Golden Eyes as Ruby who just happens to be an explosive expert-Andy’s female counterpart.
Below- Trailer Golden Eyes-1968 aka Booted Babe Busted Boss
On the baddie front be well warned of would be villains carrying “whisky” flasks containing some extremely volatile and very deadly acid. That is one way to clear your throat. Ouch!
Below: Bibari -Son of Godzilla here playing a more subdued native.
with a killer soundtracks by Masaru Sato (Yojimbo).
These are feel good cult films that must be seen to be believed, They deserve more than a once over and will have you asking why there was not more in what should have been a series of films instead of just the 2 titles that Toho released. Not only are they highly recommended but should be on every ones top 50.
both are available as part of the Criterion Collection via Criterion Channel streaming app on Roku or PC.
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Additional films related or in a similar vain.
- **commercial break***
Above keep your eye open for Sammy Davis Jr.
Below — a car ad from 1960s Japan
And now back to our show…
From the house of Nikkatsu-
Black Tight Killers-
This 1966 flix is balls to the wall. Featuring a gang of femme fatales (ninjas) in skirts and they are not to be reckoned, Japanese Yakuza & American mobsters vs an ex war photographer as he kicks a lot of a&* as he tries to protect a stewardess who’s father may know the wear a bouts of a major sum money. Loot her father had a hand in smuggling at the end of WWII.
This free for all loaded with lots of eye candy..ooozing with go go girls, short skirts and jazz is so visually stimulating that the plot itself acts more as the catalyst for pop art images. Which begs the question were Frazetta or Steranko not to far from the mind or maybe The Avengers TV series and Losey’s Modesty Blaise(1966).
Watch out for some of the most bizarre weapons including bubblegum and 45 rpm records..anything and even the mundane and obscure objects could used as part of the 5 miniskirt wearing ninja assassins. So don’t blink twice for every moment is frenetic excitement…
Below- I don’t think this guys day is going so well. It was probably the last turn at Albuquerque or Wow! I should had a V-8!
Below a jazz fused music video from the this off the wall film .. manic with a “Krimi” feel to it …ala Peter Thomas (composed many a score for the German and Euro co-produced crime films of the ’60s and early ‘70s)
Directed by Yasuharu Hasebe. Hasebe was very much a student of *Seijun Suzuki -Branded to Kill & Tokyo Drifter.
Starring another Akira- Akira Kobayashi( Singer and Professional Golfer), he appeared in numerous “yauza” or gangster cinema in Japan. Also with Chieko Matsubara(appearing in over 115 films including the 1965 action film The Dragon of Macao again with Akira Kobayashi and my favorite- Jo Shishido)
***Seijun who really put Nikkatsu on the map, but also drew some controversy in the late ’60s which prevented him from working for a period of time.
Bonus treat-Fan art -below
All three of these outrageous charismatic pieces of cinema are rare and hard to find anywhere. Aside from the two films by Jun Fukuda streaming on Criterion you can also find them at Brians’ Trash Palace. I highly recommend you stopping by there. There are far to many titles of sought after cult and iconic international films.
So until next time I say be Dangerous and Diabolik…of and the next time a beautiful girl slows down to offer you a ride you may want to think twice about it… ask Andy he found himself waking up in the parking garage underneath the headquarters some very shady characters.
Link for Trash Palace-