The Yakuza (1975)

R | 112-113 mins | Drama | 19 March 1975

Director:

Sydney Pollack

Producer:

Sydney Pollack

Cinematographer:

Okazaki Kozo

Production Designer:

Stephen Grimes

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

The following written statement appears in the opening credits: “Yakuza: The Japanese Kana for this word is made of the numbers eight, nine and three, totaling twenty: A losing number in Japanese gambling. It is what the Japanese gangster, out of a perverse pride, has called himself. The yakuza began life in Japan over three hundred and fifty years ago as gamblers, con men, and shady merchants at traveling fairs. They were also said to have protected the poor of the towns and countryside from bands of marauding noblemen. This they apparently did with matchless skill and courage. To this day it is said the yakuza abide by a code of honor as rigorous as the samurai code of bushido.”
       “Kana” is the Japanese syllabic form of writing.
       End credits state: “Special thanks to Toei Motion Picture Company LTD. for their cooperation in the production of this film.” Actor Kyosuke Machida's name is spelled correctly in opening credits, and incorrectly in end credits as "Kyosuke Mashida."
       Promotional materials in AMPAS library files stated that actor James Shigeta replaced Tetsuro Tamba in the role of “Goro” due to the actor's prior commitments in his native Japan.
       A news brief in the 16 Feb 1973 HR reported that Michael Hamilburg was scheduled to be producer of The Yakuza, but Hamilburg is listed as co-producer in the credits.
       A 25 Apr 1973 HR news item announced that Warner Bros. paid writer Paul Schrader $300,000 plus 30% of the net profit for his original screenplay based on an idea by his brother Leonard Schrader. Warner Bros. was negotiating with Robert ... More Less

The following written statement appears in the opening credits: “Yakuza: The Japanese Kana for this word is made of the numbers eight, nine and three, totaling twenty: A losing number in Japanese gambling. It is what the Japanese gangster, out of a perverse pride, has called himself. The yakuza began life in Japan over three hundred and fifty years ago as gamblers, con men, and shady merchants at traveling fairs. They were also said to have protected the poor of the towns and countryside from bands of marauding noblemen. This they apparently did with matchless skill and courage. To this day it is said the yakuza abide by a code of honor as rigorous as the samurai code of bushido.”
       “Kana” is the Japanese syllabic form of writing.
       End credits state: “Special thanks to Toei Motion Picture Company LTD. for their cooperation in the production of this film.” Actor Kyosuke Machida's name is spelled correctly in opening credits, and incorrectly in end credits as "Kyosuke Mashida."
       Promotional materials in AMPAS library files stated that actor James Shigeta replaced Tetsuro Tamba in the role of “Goro” due to the actor's prior commitments in his native Japan.
       A news brief in the 16 Feb 1973 HR reported that Michael Hamilburg was scheduled to be producer of The Yakuza, but Hamilburg is listed as co-producer in the credits.
       A 25 Apr 1973 HR news item announced that Warner Bros. paid writer Paul Schrader $300,000 plus 30% of the net profit for his original screenplay based on an idea by his brother Leonard Schrader. Warner Bros. was negotiating with Robert Aldrich to direct and wanted actor Charles Bronson for the part of "Harry." Meanwhile, Aldrich wanted Lee Marvin for the role, and Paul Schrader preferred William Holden.
       A 24 Jan 1974 HR brief reported that principal photography had begun in Jan 1974 with ten weeks of shooting in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, to be followed by two weeks in California. Materials found in AMPAS library files state that filming took place on the Pacific Coast Highway and at the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, CA.
       According to a 12 Aug 2005 HR article, producer Bill Gerber planned to film a remake of The Yakuza, written by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
31 Mar 1975
p. 4768.
Daily Variety
14 Mar 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1974
p. 28.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1974
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 2005.
---
Los Angeles Times
27 Mar 1975
Section IV, p. 14.
New York Times
20 Mar 1975
p. 48.
Variety
19 Mar 1975
p. 29.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Sydney Pollack Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d unit dir
Unit prod mgr, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
Unit prod mgr, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog, American sequences
Cam op
Asst cam
Gaffer, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
Asst cam, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
Grip, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Supv film ed
Film ed
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Props, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst prod mgr
Prod secy
Prod coord
Scr supv
Prod personnel, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
Prod personnel, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
Prod personnel, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
Asst to exec prod, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd
Scr girl, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
Tattoo artist, Toei Motion Picture Company Ltd.
SOURCES
SONGS
"Only The Wind," Japanese lyrics by Aku Yu, composed by Dave Grusin.
COMPOSERS
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 March 1975
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 March 1975
Los Angeles opening: 27 March 1975
Production Date:
January--late March 1974
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 December 1974
Copyright Number:
LP44212
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
112-113
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Japan, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24087
SYNOPSIS

Kato Jiro, a freelance Japanese criminal who often works in the United States, offers his services to Tono, the leader of the Tano crime syndicate, and is given a sleeve from a woman’s blouse. Kato travels to Los Angeles, California, and delivers the sleeve to George Tanner, informing him that Tono has kidnapped Tanner's daughter, Louise. Unless he returns to Tokyo, Japan, to settle his “debt,” she will be killed. Tanner asks his old war buddy, Harry Kilmer, a private eye, to fly to Japan and see Tanaka Ken, a man who owes Harry a favor. Tanner assigns Dusty, Tanner’s bodyguard, to be Harry’s travel companion and they fly to Japan to be met by Oliver Wheat. Wheat informs Dusty that his father, George, Harry and he were stationed in Japan as military police during the occupation. After Wheat makes them a home cooked meal of octopus, Dusty examines his antique weapons collection and cuts himself on a sword. When Harry leaves to see his old love, Tanaka Eiko, Wheat explains that Harry saved Eiko from an attack by U.S. servicemen when she was involved in selling black market medicine to support her sick daughter during the U.S. occupation. Although Eiko refused to marry, she lived with Harry for five years until her brother, Tanaka Ken, returned from an isolated island that had not received news that the war was over until 1950. Ken swore an oath of obligation to Harry for protecting his sister and niece, but forbid Eiko from ever seeing him again. When Harry’s enlistment was up, he borrowed $5 thousand from Tanner, bought a café ... +


Kato Jiro, a freelance Japanese criminal who often works in the United States, offers his services to Tono, the leader of the Tano crime syndicate, and is given a sleeve from a woman’s blouse. Kato travels to Los Angeles, California, and delivers the sleeve to George Tanner, informing him that Tono has kidnapped Tanner's daughter, Louise. Unless he returns to Tokyo, Japan, to settle his “debt,” she will be killed. Tanner asks his old war buddy, Harry Kilmer, a private eye, to fly to Japan and see Tanaka Ken, a man who owes Harry a favor. Tanner assigns Dusty, Tanner’s bodyguard, to be Harry’s travel companion and they fly to Japan to be met by Oliver Wheat. Wheat informs Dusty that his father, George, Harry and he were stationed in Japan as military police during the occupation. After Wheat makes them a home cooked meal of octopus, Dusty examines his antique weapons collection and cuts himself on a sword. When Harry leaves to see his old love, Tanaka Eiko, Wheat explains that Harry saved Eiko from an attack by U.S. servicemen when she was involved in selling black market medicine to support her sick daughter during the U.S. occupation. Although Eiko refused to marry, she lived with Harry for five years until her brother, Tanaka Ken, returned from an isolated island that had not received news that the war was over until 1950. Ken swore an oath of obligation to Harry for protecting his sister and niece, but forbid Eiko from ever seeing him again. When Harry’s enlistment was up, he borrowed $5 thousand from Tanner, bought a café and gave it to Eiko who named it “Kilmer House.” When Eiko sees Harry, she struggles to control her feelings, but her grown daughter, Hanako, rushes into Harry’s arms. Harry inquires about Ken, but Eiko refuses to talk about her brother, until he tells her it is about a debt of honor. She gives him the address of a school in Kyoto where Ken teaches kendo. Harry asks her to marry him, but she refuses. In Kyoto, Harry explains that Tanner lost a shipment of guns he was running for the yakuza, an organized crime syndicate, and unless Tanner produces the shipment, Tono will kill his daughter. Ken agrees to help retrieve the girl, but explains that he is no longer in the yakuza and has not unsheathed his sword in ten years. Returning to Tokyo, Harry and Ken collect Dusty and drive to a Shinto monastery. As Ken waits outside, Harry and Dusty burst in with guns drawn to find Louise drugged and surrounded by her captors. Harry orders everyone to freeze, but one man pulls a gun. Ken severs the man’s arm with his sword. More shots are fired before the remaining captors run away. As Harry carries Louise to his car, Kato arrives to warn Ken that Tono will learn of his involvement. After returning Louise to Tanner, Ken explains that the yakuza council did not approve the kidnapping, so Tono will not be allowed to retaliate. Tanner assures the men that he can negotiate a peace settlement with Tono. The next day, Eiko arrives at Wheat’s home to find Harry and Dusty leaving for the airport. She takes Harry for a walk and explains that Ken is in danger. Only Garo, Ken’s brother, can help him. Harry cancels his flight and takes a train to meet Garo in Kyoto. Garo’s position as counselor to the yakuza clans demands he remain neutral. He explains that Ken has only three options: he can beg Tono’s forgiveness and be obligated to him; Tono can kill him; or he can kill Tono with his sword, but then Tono’s men will be obligated to kill Ken. However, since Harry is not yakuza, he could kill Tono without fear of reprisals. Meanwhile, Tanner asks Tono for forgiveness, admitting he lost the money with which he was supposed to buy guns when he speculated in the stock market. Tono agrees to forgive him, only if he kills Harry. Back at Wheat’s, Dusty flirts with Hanako and asks about seeing men missing their little fingers. Hanako explains that if a yakuza commits an offense so horrible it calls for his death, he can ask for forgiveness by cutting off a piece of his little finger, making it difficult to grasp a sword, and thereby making him dependent on the clan for protection. Harry meets Ken in a nightclub and pleads for him to allow Eiko and Hanako to go to America, but Ken insists they are in no danger. After Harry leaves, three men arrive to tell Ken that there is a contract on the American’s head. Ken proclaims that Harry is family and he will avenge his death. Ken meets with an old friend who advises him that the only way to stop Tono is to reveal his dealings with Tanner. Later, Harry and Dusty soak in a bathhouse when a heavily tattooed man stabs Harry. Harry wrenches the knife from the man and plunges it into the assassin’s stomach, twisting the blade until the dying man confesses that Tanner sent him. They return to Wheat’s place where Eiko bandages Harry, while Ken explains the Japanese concept of honor to Dusty. The younger man confesses that he was assigned to Harry to prevent him from learning that Tanner and Tono plan to kill Garo and take over the yakuza. Harry orders Dusty to watch the women as he and Ken take a walk to discuss their predicament. Ken asks Harry to take Eiko and Hanako, but Harry refuses to leave Ken in danger. Meanwhile, as Eiko watches Hanako perform a traditional tea ceremony for Dusty, a group of thugs break into the house and put a knife to Eiko’s throat, forcing Dusty to toss away his gun. Fearing the gunmen are about to hurt Wheat, Dusty hits a man with a lamp, retrieves his gun and shoots another assailant. Dusty is run through with a sword as Ken and Harry return. A gun battle ensues and when it is over, they realize that both Dusty and Hanako are dead. Harry and Ken go to see Garo, who advises them they must kill Tano and Tanner. He offers them aide, on condition that if they find his son “Spider,” who joined Tono’s clan against his wishes, and who can be recognized by a spider tattoo on his head, they will not hurt him. Later, Garo explains to Harry that Eiko is not Ken's sister, but his wife. When Ken returned from the war, he found Eiko living with a foreigner and was torn by his hatred and his gratitude that Harry protected his family. Later, Harry shoots his way into George Tanner’s office, killing Tanner and his bodyguards. He then returns to Ken, and insists on aiding him against Tono. At Tono’s house, Harry storms in firing a shotgun while Ken dispatches three henchmen with his sword. As Harry rushes to kill Tono, ten swordsmen surround surround Ken. After a brutal battle, Ken kills all ten, then notices that one of them is Spider. He rejoins a wounded Harry as Tono appears, and the two swordsmen duel. Harry passes out from blood loss just as Ken stabs Tono. Days later, Harry and Ken visit Garo to learn that the police have concluded Tanner and Tono killed each other over a smuggling deal. Ken draws a knife to atone for Spider’s death, but Garo begs him not to commit suicide, stating that he has already lost a son, and could not handle losing a brother. Ken then cuts off his little finger, wraps it in a cloth and hands it to Garo who accepts the offering. Later, Harry appears at Ken’s apartment and asks to speak with him formally. When Ken goes to get tea, Harry removes a handkerchief and cuts off his little finger. When Ken returns, Harry asks atonement for the pain he has caused and gives Ken his severed finger. He then asks Ken to also forgive Eiko. Ken accepts the offering. The next day, Ken and Harry exchange bows before Harry boards a plane and flies back to America. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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