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Paramount on Parade

Paramount’s corporate parent, Viacom, seems to have lost all interest in issuing older titles from the Paramount catalog, but happily an independent distributor, Olive Films, has begun licensing titles from that rich and neglected library. The first batch of five is out this week, and it consists (inevitably) of three more-or-less noirs — Lewis Allen’s “Appointment with Danger” (1949/51), Rudolph Mate’s “Union Station” (1950) and William Dieterle’s “Dark City” (1950) — as well as a wildly Freudian science fiction film produced in Franco’s Spain by the versatile Philip Yordan, “Crack in the World” (directed by Andrew Marton, 1965) and Burt Kennedy’s female revenge western “Hannie Caulder” (1971), with Raquel Welch wearing Clint Eastwood’s poncho. Quick reviews and general encouragement here, in my New York Times column.

56 comments to Paramount on Parade

  • I don’t want to take this thread off track at all, but would someone with a familiarity with Juzo Itami please contact me off-thread? jaime dot christley at gmail dot com

    Reason being, a few of us recently saw an unusual early feature by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, SWEET HOME, which Itami produced and appears in (in a major supporting role, and under heavy makeup). The IMDb shows a handful of links between these two guys, but almost nothing in the way of historical context.

    Grateful in advance of any assistance – thanks!

  • I was in Japan when the multi-talented Itami died (around the same time as Toshiro Mifune). Sad and shocking, not least because he was never able to participate in or benefit from the critical and commercial revival experienced by Japanese cinema in the late 90s. (1997, the year of Itami’s death, saw not only the release of ‘Hana-bi’, ‘Princess Mononoke’ and ‘Unagi’, but also a rise in admissions after nearly four straight decades of filmgoing decline.)

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘I was in Japan when the multi-talented Itami died (around the same time as Toshiro Mifune). Sad and shocking’

    Yes, very sad. Probably was murdered by yakuza. This is belief of his brother-in-law Oe Kenzaburo who has written book about this. Suicide and circumstance was cover up (if that is right English expression.) Not so much in Western news media about this. Probably many Western cinephile do not know about suspicion of murder.

    Oe also has threats from right wing extremist many years since writing book about assassin of Socialist Party leader Asanuma Inejiro in 1960. His publisher’s office was burned at that time.

  • Barry Putterman

    Junko, there were news reports here, both in the papers and on TV, at the time of Itami’s death which chronicled his standing up to the yakuza and pretty much leading us to believe that they had murdered him. I don’t think that the story would have been covered here at all unless they had had the yakuza hook to hang it on.

  • Junko Yasutani

    I did not know so much about Western press report Barry. I thought it was same as Japanese report, claiming suicide. It is good to know that Western press did believe that story so easy.

  • Barry Putterman

    Junko, I don’t mean this to sound as cynical as it probably does, but there was no question of national pride at stake in reporting here that Itami was likely murdered by the yakuza, and it actually became both a more sensational and logical story in doing so.