“I Hate But Love” (Nikui an-chikushô, 1964) is significantly longer than, if not as chaotic as “The Warped Ones” (1960). It is the only one of the films in the Criterion Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara set that was shot in color.
The first half resembles Hollywood romantic comedies with the plucky professional virgin Doris Day embodied by Asaoka Ruriko). Noryiko is the manager for tv talk-show (“reality tv” après la letter) host Kita Daisaku (played by Ishihara Yujiro, who was a very big star in Japan then), who does not get enough sleep, is generally grumpy, and takes out many of his frustrations on Noriko.
Noriko and Daisaku are nominally in love, not celebrating their second anniversary in a relationship in which they do not kiss or have sex, an agreement of which Daisaku is tiring.
A feature of his show is taking some want-ad item and making its listener’s dream come true. The oddness of an earnest woman (Ashikawa Izumi) seeking someone to drive a jeep to Kyushu (south of Honshu, the main island where Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are; Kyushu had underdeveloped infrastructure then, particularly roads). She and a physician there have been carrying on a romance by mail for three years and saving up to buy a jeep for him to use. There is no money left to pay a driver or the ferry charges, but Daisaku volunteers on live tv to drive it himself.
Norkio is horrified, knowing how many appearances he has scheduled, and drives his Jaguar in pursuit of the jeep, trying to persuade him to retun and keep his various engagements and, failing that, hires someone to drive the rest of the way. His drive has set off a media frenzy, though it is his stubbornness and long-simmering resentment that seems (at least to me) to motivate his refusal to give up.
On Kyushu the mountain roads indeed require a jeep, and the Jaguar eventually cannot follow. By then, however, Daisaku is moved by Norkio’s determination. At the end of the road there is a happy ending, an unhappy ending, and frustrated media coverers of the story.
A little long and not especially inspired a media satire (which may have been fresher in 1964, though that was more than a decade after Kurosawa’s “Scandal”), I enjoyed the travelogue aspect. Daisaku pushed Norko to the ground multiple times (she never cried and always got up and continued to follow him). Though unsettling, I do remember Cary Grant pushing Katharine Hepburn down through a door in “The Philadelphia Story” (not to mention James Cagney’s grapefruit to the face in “The Public Enemy”).
Mamiya Yoshio provided a quite different look to “Hate/Love” from the b&w nastiness of “The Warped Ones.” And the perky soundtrack clashes (I don’t doubt deliberately) with the humorless principals and often nasty goings-on. (It’s not quite as astounding as the Nikkatsu noir spaghetti-western sound for the hitman/gangster “A Colt is My Passport.”)
©2016, Stephen O. Murray