The Crimson Kimono
Archival 35mm Print
Glenn Corbett, James Shigeta, Anna Lee, Victoria Shaw,
“He was a scoundrel. He was a liar. He was a bullshit artist. He was a writer,” Fuller said of Honoré de Balzac. Fuller was, of course, all of these, too, as well as a genuine eccentric: a writer-director of major motion pictures that were by nature B films with the flavor of tabloid reporting, and manifestly pro-American, yet critical of his country’s violence and racism. In The Crimson Kimono, Fuller uses Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo as the backdrop for a sympathetic portrayal of interracial romance imbedded in a police melodrama about the murder of a nightclub stripper. Two detectives, one white (Glenn Corbett) and one Japanese American (James Shigeta), fall in love with a white artist (Victoria Shaw) whom they meet in the course of the investigation. Competition brings out neuroses born from racial stress and cultural ambivalence, which Fuller examines head-on and reinforces by using location shooting, including a chase down Little Tokyo’s streets during a Japanese New Year festival. Fuller’s characters are ambivalent, but the director celebrates both diversity and racial unity in a rare moment of optimism.