May 19–27, 2018

Inoue Umetsugu: Japan’s Music Man

A director who had a big impact on Japanese and Hong Kong pop cinema … Inoue’s mix of music, action, and hot young talent became a template for a new genre, called Nikkatsu Action.”

Mark Schilling, Variety

Although the prolific Japanese filmmaker Inoue Umetsugu made movies in a number of genres, he may be best known as a specialist in musicals. He began making youth-oriented musicals in the 1950s at Nikkatsu, the influential Japanese genre-cinema studio that launched the career of cult favourite Suzuki Seijun. (Suzuki was the subject of a Cinematheque retrospective in 2016; Nikkatsu productions were themselves the subject of a Cinematheque exhibition in 2008). Inoue eventually caught the eye of the famed Shaw Brothers, who hired him to apply his magic touch to Hong Kong movies in the late 60s. This mini-retrospective, offering just a handful of the more than one hundred movies Inoue directed in his career, features four shot-in-colour gems: three newly-subtitled classics starring acting-and-singing heartthrob Ishihara Yujiro—“Japan’s Elvis and James Dean rolled into one” (Mark Schilling)—and a restored 35mm print of a film Inoue made using the rare Konicolor process.


This touring program was curated by Tom Vick, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institute (Washington, D.C.), and generously funded by the Inoue & Tsukioka Movie Foundation. Special thanks to Sabrina Baracetti, Thomas Bertacche, Roger Garcia, and Mark Schilling of the Far East Film Festival in Udine, Italy. Series introduction adapted from Mr. Vick’s introduction for the Smithsonian. Film descriptions for The Stormy Man, The Winner, and The Eagle and the Hawk adapted from Mark Schilling, Asia Sings! A Survey of Asian Musical Films. Film description for The Green Music Box adapted from Il Cinema Ritrovato, Cineteca di Bologna.

List of Programmed Films

Date Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2018-May The Stormy Man Inoue Umetsugu 1957 Japan
2018-May The Winner Inoue Umetsugu 1957 Japan
2018-May The Green Music Box Inoue Umetsugu 1955 Japan
2018-May The Eagle and the Hawk Inoue Umetsugu 1957 Japan