A Colt is My Passport (Koruto wa ore no pasupoto – Japan 1967)

A Colt is My Passport (1967)

A Colt is My Passport, a wide-screen b&w movie from the prolific Hikkatsu studio, is a hip acid noir with a 60s patina and a surreal spaghetti-western score.  A twist on a classic noir  motif has a hit-man as existential hero, committed to an austere private code that elevates him above the yakuza hoods that want him dead after a mob hit goes wrong.

Director Takashi Nomura fills the screen with elegantly composed flowing senarios that pan and follow the action, giving movement to even establishing placement shots.  The mis-en-scene is austere yet perversely satirical.  While the planning and the mechanics of preparing for the hit are slowly paced and meticulous, the bland assured peregrinations of the hit man and his young apprentice, who are both dressed like loyal company men, and in one scene are seated in an office behind a desk,  have an unnerving quotidian ambience.  These guys are cold and distant, almost effigies.

However, the mood changes when the staging of the hit backfires and the two are on the run.  They hole up in a sea-side hotel and are aided by a young waitress attracted to the older man, whose bravery and protective loyalty to his young buddy take on a mythic dimension.  Here a mood of fatalism takes hold, and the inevitable final denoument  is telegraphed by their  entrapment in a closet-like room.  After a final desperate bid to shake-off the mobsters, the classic western theme of redemption emerges, with the hero returning to face his pursuers after parlaying his fate for the escape of his buddy, who learns of the pact too late.  The girl is left forlorn and bitter. The finale is a cinematic tour-de-force staged with mannered precision but hinging on a chaotic precipice of climactic violence and retributive justice.

You start by seeing the protagonist as a cousin of Melville’s  inscrutable Samouri but by the end of the film he has been transformed into an avenging angel.  Uber cool.

7 Comments

  1. Outstanding piece here, Tony. I have not seen any of the Nikkatsu Noir yet, although I do have them thanks to a mutual blogging friend. I had hoped to be able to keep them in consideration for my countdown, but since I realized I was not going to be able to get to all of them, I decided to hold of on them. I am definitely looking forward to them, and this one in particular I have read great things about.

  2. DeeDee

    Tony said, “A Colt is My Passport, a wide-screen b&w movie from the prolific Hikkatsu studio, is a hip acid noir with a 60s patina and a surreal spaghetti-western score. A twist on a classic noir motif has a hit-man as existential hero, committed to an austere private code that elevates him above the yakuza hoods that want him dead after a mob hit goes wrong.”

    Wow…Tony, I ‘am not familiar with this film…I even checked out the “Professor’s” film noir list and he does not even have it listed. (In addition, he have a copy of every film noir under the sun, and over the moon ) that he has acquired from International dealers, television, purchased, etc, etc, etc…)

    By the way, Is this film available on DVD yet? and
    What a nice screenshot from the film “A Colt is My Passport,” which compliments your review very nicely too!

    Thanks, for sharing!
    DeeDee ;)

  3. DeeDee

    I even checked out the “Professor’s” film noir list and he does not even have it listed.

    [Note: Because the film is not presence on the Professor’s list do not mean that he does not own a copy…it just means that it is not listed on his list.]

  4. Well, I completely agree with this favorable assessment, and found this title as the best in the Nikkatsu Noir set. The fusion of syles and influences from Hollywood, European arthouse and even cult films is compellingly evident, and I think we can assert that the film is patterned more after the European mafia that with the Japanese yakuza. The crisp, pristine and breahtaking cinematography by Snigeyoshi Mine is an arresting component here.

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