Recently seen movies #78August 10, 2008
Stray Cat Rock: Beat ’71 (Japan, 1971) – 4/5
Toshiya Fujita brings the Stray Cat Rock series to a highly enjoyable end. Like his previous instalment, Wild Jumbo, Beat ’71 is an easy going youth drama that does not follow Yasuharu Hasebe’s wild gang film path. Instead Fujita deals with social issues. The film follows a hippie community lead by Yoshitaro (Yoshio Harada). They decide to leave their trailer in Shinjuku and travel to countryside by bicycle to save their friend Furiko (Meiko Kaji) who has been falsely accused for murder. The real killer – although it was mainly self defense – is Furiko’s boyfried Takaaki (Takeo Chii) who is being controlled by his politician father. Takaaki would rather live free as a hippie, but his father is forcing him to become a businessman. When Furiko’s friends arrive the small town the concervative villagers try to run them away. They only get sympathy from a traveling rock band (The Mops). The conflict eventually takes them to an old mine that has been turned into a Wild West theme park. A fitting and symbolic conclusion to a sries of films that was one of Nikkatsu’s last iconic products before their financial crash and transition from youthful action films to pink cinema.