Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1959. Columbia Pictures, Globe Enterprises. Screenplay by Samuel Fuller. Cinematography by Sam Leavitt. Produced by Samuel Fuller. Music by Harry Sukman. Production Design by Robert F. Boyle, William Flannery. Costume Design by Bernice Pontrelli. Film Editing by Jerome Thoms. Golden Globe Awards 1959.
An exotic dancer finishes her performance and goes backstage, entering her dressing room where she is shot by an unseen assailant. Barely surviving the attack, she runs out onto the street where she is gunned down in traffic, and the police investigating have as their only clue to the case a painting she posed for her in the titular garb. She was working on developing a Japanese-themed act, the particulars of which team up detectives Glenn Corbett and James Shigeta as they plunge into L.A.’s Japanese quarter and meet an assortment of individuals with connections to the victim and her work. This exciting thriller shows Samuel Fuller scoring high on all points, from the tight and twisty script to the range of fascinating characters and a tangible sense of time and place (it’s rare for a movie in the 50s to have Asian-Americans actually playing Asian-American characters, and the location photography is gorgeous). It’s a familiar genre and it touches on all the traditions you know well from watching police noir, but Fuller loves to throw in less well-traveled touches, like Anna Lee‘s excellent performance as the alcoholic painter who has information about the image the detectives are trying to learn about.