The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill (1967) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill (1967)

Director Seijun Suzuki had a B-movie brain and an A-movie heart, but this movie defies any alphabet

“Beast needs beast,” the woman moans to her lover during sex. He is a hit man disgruntled by his number three ranking on the Tokyo Hitman Top Ten, and thwarted from carrying out his latest killer’s contract by a butterfly landing on the barrel of his gun just as he pulls the trigger. That’s the part of renegade Japanese filmmaker Seijun Suzuki’s Branded to Kill that makes as much “sense” as we can still call sense even with quotes around the word. Suzuki had a B-movie brain and an A-movie heart, but this movie defies any alphabet altogether: Good luck finding another as demented that still demands your attention as much. 

In an oppressed post-nuke society where notions of honor are written into the DNA, Suzuki “furiously tunnel[ed] from the whorehouse to the arthouse,” as critic Howard Hampton puts it, making 40 movies in the 1950s and ‘60s with titles that translated as Young Breasts, Story of a Prostitute, Tattooed Life, The Naked Woman and the Gun, and Go to Hell Hoodlums! This gloriously berserk smudge of a picture was the one that finally sent the studio over the edge, with the director not just fired but banned from filmmaking for a decade. Suzuki won the war if not the battle, however, with young filmgoers named Tarantino and Jarmusch forever in his thrall.

Read them all:   
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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