Latest Blog - News Articles

  • In 1947, a blossoming filmmaker at Toho named Senkichi Taniguchi started production on the crime thriller Snow Trail, his second directorial effort. Having previously helmed the star-studded musical Toho Show Boat (1946), he was ready to expand his creative spectrum, channeling his energy into a straight-forward caper about three criminals who rob a bank and then flee into the mountains with their loot. In what marked another significant difference from his first movie, Taniguchi was forced to fill his cast with lesser-known or even completely unknown actors—as the studio had recently lost most of its established “box office” talent during a labor union strike and, per the speculations of one actor, wasn’t keen on their remaining “big name” stars shooting on location in the rugged mountain wilderness*. Among the newcomers appearing in Taniguchi’s film was a vibrant young actress by the name of Setsuko Wakayama, whom the director married two years after the film’s release and divorced seven years after that. (more…)

    General // November 18, 2019
  • On September 6, 1998, veteran screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto was visiting his daughter at a lodge in Kita-Karuizawa when he received some dismaying news: one of his colleagues—someone whose name he will forever be associated with—had just passed away. That colleague being none other than the internationally acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa. Hashimoto had collaborated with Kurosawa (always one to participate in the writing of his films’ scripts) a total of eight times, their combined efforts leading to classics such as Ikiru (1952), Seven Samurai (1954), and Throne of Blood (1957). And upon learning of his associate’s death, Hashimoto realized he was the sole surviving member of a once-prominent team of storytellers. All the other writers who’d participated in crafting Kurosawa’s movies—Hideo Oguni, Ryuzo Kikushima, etc.—had already passed on. Hashimoto, then a physically decrepit man of 80, was unable to attend the farewell gathering due to poor health, so he sent the following in a condolence telegram: “I want to ask a favor of our leader, Mr. Kurosawa. Tell everyone ‘Hashimoto’ll be here soon.’ Leave some space for me to sit with my legs crossed. It will probably be only a little while, so until then, Mr. Kurosawa, from Kita-Karuizawa […] goodbye.” (more…)

    General // August 16, 2018
  • In the late 1950s, Ishiro Honda directed Inao: Story of an Iron Arm (1959), a biographical film about famed baseball player Kazuhisa Inao. One of the director’s non-genre efforts, this 106-minute picture was subjected to a number of post-production excisions, in which some now-reputable cast members had their screen time mercilessly trimmed or entirely eradicated. Among those to suffer the wrath of the editor’s scissors was a newcomer named Yuriko Hoshi. As revealed in the recent biography Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa, Hoshi had been sequestered on location in Kyushu for an entire month during the shoot, the vast majority of her time spent waiting for the crew to get around to filming her scene; and when the finished product hit theaters in March of that year, the future star’s image was nowhere to be found. Presumably for the sake of pacing—and despite the fact that her name still appears in the credits—Hoshi’s scene had been cut. (more…)

    General // May 23, 2018
  • August 7th, 2017 marked the passing of a true legend. Best known for being the suit actor for the original 1954 Godzilla, Haruo Nakajima demonstrated his talents on the big screen in an unforgettable performance that would live on in the hearts and minds of people the world over. Nakajima would go on to bring to life even more iconic Toho movie monsters, such as the original Rodan, Varan, Gaira, Baragon, and King Kong, and even appear on the silver screen in acting roles, though his outing as Godzilla would remain one of his finest endeavors. (more…)

    General // August 22, 2017
  • The recent passing of Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) director Yoshimitsu Banno and the expected refocus on his limited involvement in Toho’s iconic monster movie franchise brought to mind two things regarding this series and the way fans react to it. The first concerns the making-of stories surrounding these movies and how they are, so very often, swamped in a messy bog of truths and half-truths. In regards to how the front office at Toho reacted to Godzilla vs. Hedorah, the legend reiterated to most people depicts an ambitious young filmmaker teeming with fresh ideas, whose career was mercilessly cut down by a narrow-minded tyrant just when it seemed to be getting started and whose only crimes were exerting his imagination and daring to stray from the norm. It’s become one of the most popular tales in Godzilla lore, and just about every fan in the last few decades has heard it. (more…)

    General // May 28, 2017
  • I found out about the death of Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (1994) director Kensho Yamashita about a month and a half after the actual day of his passing (heart failure claimed his life at the age of 72 on August 16, 2016), and the moment I realized he was no longer with us, a small part of me cried out with sorrow and regret. In the previous few years, I’d been harboring, in the most sentimental depths of my heart, a desire to meet Yamashita in person, shake his hand, and let him know how much his Godzilla movie has meant to me over the years. (more…)

    General // September 30, 2016