Monday, November 09, 2015
SMASHING THE O-LINE (1960) - Seijun Suzuki
Fifty years before Nightcrawler (and about a decade after Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole), Seijun Suzuki offered his own take on amoral crime reporters who will do just about anything to get a story, even if it means ratting out friends and lovers, manufacturing events from scratch. Hiroyuki Nagato plays Katari, a cold-blooded careerist newshound who's constantly stealing headlines from the slightly more principled Yuji Odaka, a fellow reporter aghast at the levels to which his rival scooper will sink. Katari combs the docks looking for drug deals, often getting there well before the cops (and leaving beforehand, too). He soon stumbles onto a drug smuggling ring that doubles in human trafficking. When he gets in too deep, Odaka has to put his qualms about Katiri's ethics aside to help him get out alive.
This is an early Seijun effort in the more straightforward potboiler mode. It's an enjoyable yarn with some snazzy, fluid handheld camerawork. Don't expect a lot of experimentation or innovation this early in his career. I feel about the same as O-Line as I did this one the same year.