Umetsugu Inoue: Japan’s Music Man

The Green Music Box

Umetsugu Inoue, Japan, 1955, 35mm, 90 min., Japanese w/ English subtitles

The first feature-length theatrical film shot in Konicolor, The Green Music Box is based on the eponymous novel by Makoto Hojo. A musical action film for children, the movie typifies Umetsugu Inoue’s creative use of color. It also marked the debut of fourteen-year-old Ruriko Asaoka, whose character becomes entangled with a spy trying to steal her father’s secrets. The cast also includes the talented comedian Frankie Sakai. Asaoka would sustain a career in Nikkatsu action and melodrama pictures through the following decades, while Sakai brought his inimitable sly humor to a number of Yuzo Kawashima’s vibrant dark comedies.

Description adapted from Il Cinema Ritrovato.

About Umetsugu Inoue: Japan’s Music Man

Umetsugu 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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