Umetsugu Inoue: Japan’s Music Man
The Stormy Man (aka The Guy Who Started a Storm)
Umetsugu Inoue, Japan, 1957, 101 min., Japanese w/English subtitles
that made Yujiro Ishihara a star and the Nikkatsu studio solvent, The
Stormy Man stars Ishihara as Shoichi Kokubu, a young drummer who
employs both his hands and his fists in the Ginza jazz world. His younger
brother Eiji (Kyoji Aoyama) supports his ambitions and helps find him a manager
in Fukushima Miyako (Mie Kitahara), who is as sassy and smart as she is
gorgeous. Their mother (Fukuko Sayo), however, is stubbornly opposed to
Shoichi’s choice of careers—a constant source of pain for him and of
annoyance for the audience.
takes Shoichi into her spacious Western-style house, where he can
practice without disturbance. She
also begins to take a more
than professional interest in him, while maintaining her all-business
facade. He feels the same tug—but his first priority is to beat Charley
Sakurada (Toshio Oida), the best drummer in the Ginza and an arrogant git with
Released in the peak New Year’s season, The Stormy
Man became the third biggest box-office hit of 1957. It also
solidified Inoue’s reputation as a maker of hit musicals. For its young
audience, who clapped and cheered as Ishihara sang “Ore wa dorama, yakuza na
dorama” (“I’m a drummer, a no-good drummer”), the film was an event, a
generational marker, and a much-revived classic. Today it still packs musical
excitement—and presents Japan’s premier movie star at his most charismatic.
Inoue remade the film for Shaw Brothers in Hong Kong as King Drummer (1967).
Description adapted from Mark Schilling in Asia Sings! A Survey of Asian Musical Films.
About Umetsugu Inoue: Japan’s Music Man
Inoue (1923–2010) made movies in a variety of genres, but his musicals set him
apart. The phenomenal box-office success of Inoue’s The Stormy Man saved
Nikkatsu Studios from financial ruin in the late 1950s. A decade later, his
musical films caught the eye of the Shaw Brothers, who hired him to lend
cosmopolitan glamor to their Hong Kong productions. Though this retrospective
includes a fraction of his body of work, three of the films—The Stormy Man,
The Winner, and The Eagle and the Hawk—are debuting in newly
subtitled digital versions. The Green Music Box is a one-of-a-kind 35mm
print from the National Film Center in Tokyo, restored through the rare
Konicolor process that Inoue used to make it.
– Tom Vick, Curator of Film, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution
Curated by Tom Vick and generously funded by the Inoue & Tsukioka Movie Foundation.
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