Umetsugu Inoue: Japan’s Music Man
The Green Music Box
Umetsugu Inoue, Japan, 1955, 35mm, 90 min., Japanese w/ English subtitles
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
by Tom Vick and generously funded by the Inoue & Tsukioka Movie Foundation.
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