Killers on Parade, aka My Face Red in the Sunset

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Shinoda’s “Killers on Parade” (Yûhi ni akai ore no kao), also known as “My Face Red in the Sunset,” is very peculiar, a romantic comedy about the guild of Tokyo hitmen who sing together when they get together. It was released in 1961, before such brightly colored absurdist Hollywood movies as “Casino Royale” and “What’s New, Pussycat,” or the tv “Batan,” or Richard Lester comedies (but after Frank Tashlin ones). It has a crusading female reporter and a pretty charming insouciant marksman, Ishido Haruhiko (Kawazu Yûsuke, a whole lot sunnier than the nihliist he played in Ôshima’s “Cruel Story of Youth”), who is mistaken as a hitman and hired to kill her, and the oddball real hitmen (including a physician) who set out to shoot the amateur (Ishido).

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Alas, it is not very funny. There are a few occurrences that made me smile but none that made me laugh. (This is not cultural, the movie failed in Japan.) Not at all a laugh riot, but definitely a riot of bright colors. And the chase on a large culvert that Ishido is shot off is interestingly shot (the shootout that follows, inside the culvert, less so, offering no competition to the one in “The Third Man.”)

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Ishido was a pure-hearted hero, definitely sympathetic. In “Madoff” (2016, a four-hour ABC miniseries directed by Raymond De Felitta, written by Ben Robbins) Richard Dreyfuss rather looked like Bernie Madoff but was hard to hate as he leveled with (addressed) the audience and deflected some ire by pointing out the laxity of the SEC and the greed of his clients (not really investors, since he never bought any stocks or any options). I was disappointed in the uninspired performance of Blythe Danner as his wife, but the fury of his son Mark (Tom Lipinski) and the placating other one, Peter (Danny Deferrari) with other cancers (cancer) were compelling, and Erin Cummings was very beautiful as Bernie’s secretary.

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©2016, Stephen O. Murray

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