1930s Shanghai has long captivated people for its lurid underworld, usually presented in the form of the notorious Green Gang. However, there was a brief period in Old Shanghai where a new batch of gangsters rose to prominence, and their story is told in Paul French’s Devils of Shanghai.
World War II
By April 1945, the war in Europe was winding down but hostilities in Asia showed no signs of ending in the near future. Perhaps as an unconscious way to remind Americans that the fight against Japan wasn’t over yet, Blood on the Sun was released. It’s a surprisingly well-made thriller, with hints of noir, starring an impressive cast such as Sylvia Sidney, John Emery as the arch villain Baron Tanaka, and most of all, James Cagney.
Before World War II, there was precious little cinematic depictions of Japan from Hollywood, especially when compared to China. However, after Pearl Harbor, a slew of propaganda films were made to depict the Japanese enemy. Even among these, they rarely showed the Japanese home front and even rarer, the internal politics of Japan in the 1930s. Behind the Rising Sun is a surprising exception.
In Western media, World War II in Asia has never received as many stories dedicated to it compared to the events in Europe. The lack of stories set in Japan before and during the war makes me really appreciate novels like F. Paul Wilson’s Black Wind. [Read more…] about Black Wind Review Review & Interview With F. Paul Wilson
Tokyo Joe combines three of my favorite things: film noir, a historical setting, and political intrigue. It’s a criminally underrated movie and while it’s not Humphrey Bogart’s best, it still deserves to be rediscovered by audiences.