THE YAKUZA
1975, Warner Bros., 112 min, USA, Dir: Sydney Pollack

Sydney Pollack directs this potent, poignant thriller that blends American neo-noir and the then-peaking Japanese yakuza film genre. Robert Mitchum is a world-weary private eye who joins up with a taciturn kendo instructor (yakuza movie icon Ken Takakura), who has a wartime obligation to Mitchum. Likewise, Mitchum owes past wartime comrade Tanner (Brian Keith) a favor as well, and it’s a humdinger: Rescue Tanner’s kidnapped daughter in Japan. A labyrinthine plot is set in motion, and soon Mitchum and Takakura become embroiled in a horrifying series of double crosses and mixed signals that result in a trail of bloody retribution. Adapting the story by Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader and Robert Towne wrote the moody screenplay. Co-starring Richard Jordan (THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE), Keiko Kishi, Herb Edelman, Eiji Okada. The sleek production design by Stephen B. Grimes not only evokes the spartan Japanese lifestyle but also amply reflects an atmosphere where cold, serpentine violence can strike from the darkness like a coiled viper. “Mitchum is at his laconic leaden-eyed best as the private eye who is forced to team up with a reformed criminal played by Takakura, an icon of the Japanese gangster genre … there are enough double-crosses to satisfy the most jaded fans of the genre.” – Channel 4 Film (U.K.)


SHAMPOO
1975, Sony Repertory, 109 min, USA, Dir: Hal Ashby

Director Hal Ashby’s classic mid-’70s comedy is a harsh and funny time capsule stuffed full of great performances. Warren Beatty excels as an amorous hairdresser contending with sexual politics and his many romantic entanglements, from the wife (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Lee Grant) of his business adviser Jack Warden to Warden’s mistress (Julie Christie) and teenage daughter (Carrie Fisher, in her first role). The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay for Beatty and Robert Towne.


THE LAST DETAIL
1973, Sony Repertory, 104 min, USA, Dir: Hal Ashby

A pair of U.S. Navy petty officers (Jack Nicholson and Otis Young) are assigned to escort a young sailor (Randy Quaid) to prison to serve an eight-year sentence. Taking pity on the young man, they decide to make his last days of freedom memorable ones. Robert Towne’s superb (and profanity-laden) screenplay and the outstanding performances of Nicholson and newcomer Quaid all earned Oscar nominations.


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