Life is a Carnival

The Japanese film poster for THE WIND-OF-YOUTH GROUP CROSSES THE MOUNTAIN PASS (1961).

Most Japanese film fans and cult movie buffs are certainly familiar with maverick director Seijun Suzuki for his ultra-stylish and unconventional yakuza thrillers Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded to Kill (1967). Not as well known are the numerous genre films he was assigned by his studio Nikkatsu in the late fifties/early sixties. One of his most atypical efforts is The Wind-of-Youth Group Crosses the Mountain Pass (Japanese title: Toge o wataru wakai kaze, 1961), which is like a more adult variation on James Otis Kaler’s Toby Tyler or Ten Weeks with a Circus except, in this case, the protagonist is not a kid but a college student majoring in economics. There is also no circus, just a traveling carnival troupe with an uncertain future. Yet, the tone is surprisingly upbeat and cheerful with moments of slapstick comedy, musical interludes, dramatic incidents and a subplot involving competitive yakuza gangs, who are closer to bumbling schoolyard bullies than menacing gangsters.

A massive lantern float lights up the nightime sky in THE WIND-OF-YOUTH GROUP CROSSES THE MOUNTAIN PASS (1961), a Japanese film about a traveling carnival troupe.
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Honoring Marie Prevost

Actress Marie Prevost from her early screen career as a Mack Sennett bathing beauty.

I can remember the first time I ever heard of Marie Prevost. It was while I was reading Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon back in 1975. For a book loaded with salacious and unsubstantiated stories about many famous stars, the tiny entry on this actress was particularly unkind and disturbing. There was a coroner photograph of Prevost (supposedly) lying on her stomach in bed with what looked like abrasions on her skin with the photo caption “Doggie’s Dinner.”

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