“Black Lizard” (the 1962 original)


I wasted 101 minutes of my life watching “Kurotokage” (Black Lizard, 1962) a movie directed by Inoue Umetsugue derived from a Mishima stage adaptation of a 1934 novel by Endogawa Rampo.

I’d lost interest before the Black Lizard (Kyô Machiko) soft-shoes onto the elevator and out of the hotel after the first failed kidnapping of Sanae (Junko Kano) and theft of the Egyptian Star (a gem, not a person). Her nemesis, known as “the best detective in Japan,” Mr. Akechi (Ôki Minoru) thwarted it. Trumpeter and assistant to the Black Lizard Amamiya (Kawaguchi Hiroshi) is let into the heavily guarded compound and manages to kidnap the treasured damsel (Sanaei). For Black Lizard’s private museum (on an abandoned naval base), which includes some stuffed human bodies.

The movie is campy, but not funny as, say the tv “Batman” was. The musical numbers replace the kaboom, etc. intertitles, though both are comic-bookish. I guess the museum has some resemblances to the bat cave… The Black Lizard falls in love with her antagonist, since he is the only person who can understand her: “Crime and detectives are two sides of the same coin”, she claims. There are lots of odd-angled shots and campily sinister objects and songs.

 (Mishima was one of the stuffed humanoids in a 1968 remake (copying frame by frame) with a female impersonator Black Lizard).


©2016, Stephen O. Murray






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