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July 05, 2012

The True Story of a Woman in Jail: Continues

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Zoku jitsuroku onna kanbetsusho
Kuyo Ohara - 1975
Impulse Pictures Region 1 DVD

This is how I like Nikkatsu Roman Porno - with one foot, OK, maybe a big toe, in old school filmmaking, and an abundance of naked women. Some might call the nudity gratuitous, but I say that's the whole point of making a women in prison movie. Like the first film in the series, this entry begins and ends with an enka, a ballad about the travails of being a woman in trouble. This is in keeping with the tradition of Nikkatsu's youth oriented films from the Fifties and early Sixties, to be found in something like Tokyo Drifter, with the song usually performed by the star.

As far as I'm concerned, the best reason to see True Story . . . Continues is for star Hitomi Kazue. Relatively tall for a Japanese woman, and lean, Kazue provides an unforgettable presence. One might describe the character she plays, Mayumi, as the female equivalent to the lone wolf kind of guy often associated with Toshiro Mifune or Ken Takakura in male centered action films. Well, yes, she's hot, but she's one of the few actresses of "Pink Films" that easily commands attention, even when she's fully dressed.

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Director Koyu Ohara doesn't waste time in giving the audience what it wants. After the title song, the first image is of several female prisoners parading nude for inspection. There are also a couple of bathing scenes, lesbian orgies and cat fights, in short, the reasons why some of us love women in prison movies. There's also some straight sex, but the guys aren't exactly attractive, and the heterosexual activity comes in the form of rape or as part of a quid pro quo arrangement. All things considered, the girl on girl action might be sleazy, but it's a higher variety of sleaze.

Ohara has a couple of nice moments during a flashback. Mayumi and her mother are walking through some very tall grass. When the mother is abducted by a group of young men intent on raping her, we just see an umbrella tossed in the air from a short distance. Following the rape of mother and daughter, Mayumi is standing in a stream, her clothing torn, splashing water on her legs. Maybe to describe this as junior grade Mizoguchi might be something of an exaggeration, but there is the suggestion that Ohara knows his classics.

I am, of course, hoping that the third film of this series will be on DVD soon. In the meantime, while the quality of the Nikkatsu Roman Porno films is admittedly mixed, I always find it worth my time to see for myself the best in the genre, whether it's a director like Kuyo Ohara inserting a few moments of inspired artistry, or admiring the beauty of an actress like Hitomi Kazue.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at July 5, 2012 07:50 AM