I have a new favourite caper movie thanks to The Cultural Gutter’s Carol: Black Lizard (黒蜥蜴 Kurotokage) from 1962. Based on the novel by popular 30s mystery novelist Edogawa Rampo (AKA Taro Irai) the book was adapted for the stage by no less than Yukio Mishima himself — who appears in the 1968 film of the novel (see the fantastic write up at Die Danger Die Die Kill!) but the first versions directed by Umetsugu Inoue, who also directed films for the Shaw Brothers.
Machiko Kyo (best known from Rashomon) plays the titular character, a criminal mastermind and master (mistress?) of disguise who’s intent on kidnapping gem heiress Sanae right from under her father’s eye. He’s hired self-proclaimed ‘best detective in Japan, Kogoro Akechi (Minoru Oki). Sounds pretty pedestrian, right? NO. Singing and dancing and cross-dressing and romance happen AND THEN MORE. Some of the twists you’ll guess but what’s in the caves, probably not.
It’s a hoot, a delight, a surprise and I could not be more delighted to have seen it. Would make a great double feature with Tokyo Drifter because it’s got some of the same colour sensibilities but wayyyyy more 60s camp sensibility. Just see this clip which Carol lured me in with where the Black Lizard makes her escape with a little soft shoe. You will see why I am already imagining JaQuel Knight with the ghost of Bob Fosse whispering in his ear choreographing a new version with Janelle Monae in the starring role (hey, I can dream). Check it.
I’m off to write a caper novel now —
Bio: A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Publications include LOVE IS A GRIFT and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books, SATAN’S SORORITY from Fahrenheit 13 Press, as well as tales in the 2016 Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes . Wynd’s stories have been translated into German, Italian, Polish and Slovene. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here. Find Wynd on Facebook and Twitter.