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Bad Angel

May 5, 2020

Bad Angel (ずべ公天使) (1960)
Dir. Shigehiro Ozawa
Cast: Mitsue Komiya, Ken Takakura, Michiko Hoshi, Toru Abe

This was probably Toei’s first delinquent girl film. Five minutes into it we’re already treated a massive street brawn between two delinquent girl gangs. Charming chap Ken Takakura is a young intellectual of a modern business oriented yakuza group whose game centre the female delinquents populate. Takakura comes up with a plan: take the gals on a hot springs trip and educate them in arts – could rehabilitate them and turn into a profit in the long run.

This is surprisingly innocent and naïve – Takakura’s group comes out like a bloody social support organization at times – and lacking the more exploitative edge of Shintoho’s similar films from the same era. But Shigehiro Ozawa helms it with such energy and breeze, even inserting a musical scene in the middle of the film, that you can’t help but to be highly entertained by it.

The girls are cute and cool, punching bad guys and doing yakuza greetings when they’re not singing or bathing (in a scene that actually features a brief glimpse of topless nudity! That took me by a surprise) although as a typical concession of the era it’s still Takakura who gets to play the hero.

Note the Japanese title “Zubeko tenshi” (“Delinquent Angel”), which is very similar to Toei’s later “Zubeko bancho” (Delinquent Girl Boss) (1970-1971).

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