More from our Sam Fuller series. Strangely, Crimson Kimono has the dubious distinction of remaining one of the only mainstream American dramas featuring an Asian-American male in a leading role, more than a half-century after its release. More backlogged Spectrum reviews to come soon (as well as, hopefully, some more original material from me).
After a stripper (“Sugar Torch”) is gunned down in the street, LAPD detectives Sgt. Charlie Bancroft and Joe Kojaku (Glenn Corbett and James Shigeta) are tasked with picking her killer out from a short list of unsavory types while keeping young college co-ed and artist Christine Downes (Victoria Shaw), key witness and acquaintance of the deceased, out of harm’s way. This, in the inexplicable mores of the era (or at least in the logic of Samuel Fuller’s 1959 post-noir The Crimson Kimono), requires the precocious creative shack up with the detectives in their hotel suite – safer than her sorority house, they reason – where, to no great surprise, a love triangle develops between the very-dissimilar officers and their attractive ward. The tautly formal yet sensitive Kojaku plays piano, while the more unprofessional and headstrong Bancroft, with a jawline of chiseled granite, launches double-entendres at the young woman, and the conflict between the “knucklehead” upstart and grizzled veteran is underlined by deeper hints of ethnic tension and reinforced by their mirrored affections. In a vocabulary already well-established by writer-director Fuller, it’s a story of star-crossed lovers. Like his previous China Gate, one of its primary focuses is race and on the difference between hatred born of bigotry (one of Fuller’s enduring themes) and “normal, healthy, jealous hate.”
Read the rest here: Spectrum Culture – Oeuvre: Samuel Fuller – The Crimson Kimono