You will notice that the plot is very similiar to The Street with No Name.House of Bamboo
* * *
1955, Fox, unrated, $15
Directed by cult filmmaker Samuel Fuller in his brief big-studio period, this "Battle of the Bobs" (Stack and Ryan) benefits from CinemaScope Tokyo location footage from a time when few Hollywood productions got to shoot there. Ryan is an American hood running rackets, while Stack, dishing out the same stoic poetry he'd bring to dialogue deliveries on TV's The Untouchables, works undercover trying to topple him. There's a mild gay subtext, and Shirley Yamaguchi looks convincingly miserable as a woman caught in the middle.
What's in a name? Though Bamboo is being marketed in a film noir package, the movie is predominantly a daylight affair shot in bright colors. But when Robert Ryan is slapping folks around, a movie automatically has the soul of noir.
* * * 1/2
1947, Fox, unrated, $15
Carnival geeks bite heads off live chickens, entertainment that never made it to The Ed Sullivan Show. But the act did inspire the movie widely regarded as Tyrone Power's acting peak (and he agreed).
Back story: Of course, studio chief Darryl Zanuck was happy to help the movie open and close in a week because of fears about Ty's image. Power plays a carny huckster who for a while rises to become a mind reader playing to nightclubbing society, thanks to a psychologist (Helen Walker) who leaks patient info. Both actors and co-star Coleen Gray are terrific, and this would be a ☆☆☆☆ pick if the script didn't soften in the final 30 seconds. Eddie Muller's lush coffee table book The Art of Noir used Alley for its cover jacket splash — no wonder.
Extras, extras: Commentary by noir experts James Ursini and Alain Silver.