Double Feature

The Yakuza

Rolling Thunder

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The Yakuza

With a script co-written by Robert Towne (Chinatown) and Paul & Leonard Schrader (the latter two big fans of Japan’s homegrown gangster pictures), American audiences finally got introduced to the genre that had been a box office success in the Far East since the early 1960s. Director Sydney Pollack and his writers blend hardboiled American neo-noir (WW2 vet-turned-detective Robert Mitchum) and anti-heroic Japanese yakuza (ex-gangster-turned-kendo-instructor Ken Takakura), following the tie that binds the two subcultures – and the two individuals – together. Keiko Kishi is Takakura’s ‘sister’ and the object of Mitchum’s unrequited love from post-WW2 years. All three are reunited when Mitchum’s old army buddy, Brian Keith, has his daughter snatched by yakuza business associates in Japan, and Keith implores the reluctant Mitchum to help get her back. In the process, obligations are called in, many lives are changed, and some are shattered by the duplicitous nature of where ‘legitimate’ big business intersects with the underworld. There are high octane performances from the leads and solid back-up from supporting players Richard Jordan (The Friends of Eddie Coyle), Herb Edelman, James Shigeta and Eiji Okada.

“The film succeeds in casting its own slow spell. Takakura’s terse, spring-coiled performance nicely compliments Mitchum’s… the formalized violence is rivetingly choreographed. The final showdown is one not to be missed.” – Time Out

View the full set of US lobby cards for The Yakuza on the New Beverly forum.

Director
Sydney Pollack
Starring
Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, Brian Keith, Herb Edelman, Richard Jordan
Year
1974
Rated
R
Country
Japan/USA
Format
35mm
Running Time
112 minutes

Rolling Thunder

Another shattering experience from the author of Taxi Driver! A gut-punch response to the horrors of Vietnam, Rolling Thunder is equal parts character study, masculine meditation and hot-blooded revenge thriller. William Devane is Major Charles Rane, a prisoner-of-war returned home for a different kind of battle. But when his damaged psyche is destroyed, he partners with a war buddy (Tommy Lee Jones) to seek vengeance. “I’ll just get my gear.”

“One of the greatest action films of all time, the greatest combination of action film and character study I’ve ever seen.” – Quentin Tarantino

“The most violent sneak reaction of recent years… the audience actually got up and tried to physically abuse the studio personnel present among them.” – William Goldman’s Adventures In The Screen Trade, discussing a 1977 Rolling Thunder preview screening

Director
John Flynn
Starring
William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Haynes, James Best, Dabney Coleman
Year
1977
Rated
R
Country
35mm
Format
35mm
Running Time
99 minutes

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