Author Spotlight

Chuck Stephens

Chuck Stephens is a columnist for Film Comment and Cinema Scope. He lives in Los Angeles.

24 Results

Bitter Harvest
Bitter Harvest

Rainer Werner Fassbinder stocked the cast of The Merchant of Four Seasons with friends and colleagues from his experimental theater days.

By Chuck Stephens

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Inside the Pink Stable
Inside the Pink Stable

Long unheralded and at last rediscovered, actor-director Robert Montgomery’s Ride the Pink Horse is one of the key Hollywood features of 1947, the year film noir flooded the screen like a ruptured reservoir of India ink. Adapted from the popular cr…

By Chuck Stephens

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Eclipse Series 37: When Horror Came to Shochiku
Eclipse Series 37: When Horror Came to Shochiku

For a brief, shining moment, the genteel Japanese studio mutated into a fun house of grim ghouls and slimy aliens.

By Chuck Stephens

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Eclipse Series 28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara
Eclipse Series 28: The Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara

Intimidation: The Weird Dream MakerImpassioned and dedicated craftsman of some of Japanese cinema’s biggest box-office successes and most eccentric off-genre sorties, longtime Nikkatsu studios mainstay Koreyoshi Kurahara (1927–2002) was a film…

By Chuck Stephens

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The Killers Inside Me
The Killers Inside Me

Stanley Kubrick’s labyrinthine 1956 heist flick The Killing—an exploded rethink of John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle and eventual template for the narrative convolutions of Reservoir Dog—became an instant facet in the jewel that was film noir,…

By Chuck Stephens

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The Great Whozits
The Great Whozits

A rogue’s gallery of vituperative 1950s vixens and night-world tough-guy gargoyles all coalescing in a constellation of twinkling cold war lights, Robert Aldrich’s Kiss Me Deadly is a film of a thousand stars. Stars of every sort, size, and descr…

By Chuck Stephens

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Insignificance: Stargazing
Insignificance: Stargazing

  The dance along the artery The circulation of the lymph Are figured in the drift of stars —T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets   The year is 1954: a fabulous bit of film history is about to unfurl. Grips are busy piloting their klieg lights into…

By Chuck Stephens

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Pale Flower: Loser Take All
Pale Flower: Loser Take All

“There was a strong influence of Baudelaire’s Fleurs du mal throughout this film,” director Masahiro Shinoda would later remember of his 1964 squid-ink noir Pale Flower, made in the days when his career as a filmmaker and founding figure of th…

By Chuck Stephens

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Head-zapoppin’!
Head-zapoppin’!

An overdub has no choice, an image cannot rejoice.—“Porpoise Song”Where there is choice, there is misery.—SwamiHow’s about some more steam?—Sonny Liston The final episode of the television show The Monkees aired March 25, 1968. Cowritten…

By Chuck Stephens

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House: The Housemaidens
House: The Housemaidens

A coming-of-age story about a clique of teenage schoolgirls who will never grow old and a demon spirit in the guise of a spinster who was never young, Nobuhiko Obayashi’s eye-poppingly demented, jaw-droppingly inventive House is 1970s Japanese p…

By Chuck Stephens

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Lawrence of Shinjuku: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
Lawrence of Shinjuku: Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence

“The past, again and again.” —Major Jack Celliers, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence Nagisa Oshima’s filmmaking career began with the risen sun—or rather, with the promise of a sun soon to rise: Tomorrow’s Sun (1959), a dizzyingly designed fa…

By Chuck Stephens

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Kei Sato 1928–2010
Kei Sato 1928–2010

The great Japanese actor Kei Sato passed away last week; he was eighty-one years old. You may not recognize Sato’s name, but if you’ve seen a Japanese film in the past fifty years, there’s a reasonably good chance you’ve fallen, however brief…

By Chuck Stephens

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Takeo Kimura, 1918–2010
Takeo Kimura, 1918–2010

In “the cinema of flourishes”—as scholar David Bordwell once memorably characterized the long and grand tradition of Japanese filmmaking—few flourish makers have flown so high as Takeo Kimura, longtime Seijun Suzuki collaborator and art direc…

The Eighth Samurai: Tatsuya Nakadai

This expansive tribute to the iconic Japanese actor Tatsuya Nakadai was first published on the Criterion Collection’s website in fall 2005, around the time of the Criterion releases of two films starring Nakadai: Kurosawa’s Ran and the less well-

By Chuck Stephens


Gomorrah: Terminal Beach
Gomorrah: Terminal Beach

“The most concrete emblem of every economic cycle is the dump,” writes Naples native and best-selling Italian muckraker Roberto Saviano somewhere near the conclusion of his extraordinary 2006 “nonfiction novel” Gomorrah, a seethingly cogent a…

By Chuck Stephens

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Eclipse Series 17:Nikkatsu Noir
Eclipse Series 17:Nikkatsu Noir

I Am Waiting: Port of Call The year: 1957. The city: Yokohama, not far from the piers. The sound of the tide softly lapping against stones in the darkness, cubes of black ice in a tumbler of foam. Night. Rain. Hiroshi Shimizu’s ever-prowling camera…

By Chuck Stephens

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Fires on the Plain: Both Ends Burning

Across an eighty-plus-film career as marred by indifferently rendered studio assignments as it is marked with peerless visual innovations and boldly imagined literary adaptations, director Kon Ichikawa—the unlikeliest of auteurs—has nevertheless …

By Chuck Stephens


Jigoku: Hell on Earth

Never mind that damnation to the fires of Hades is said to be eternal. For some of us, the wait we’ve already endured for a glimpse of hell has been plenty long enough. Director Nobuo Nakagawa’s Hell, that is, otherwise known as Jigoku (1960), th…

By Chuck Stephens


The Bad Sleep Well: The Higher Depths

A gray flannel ghost story in which the living haunt the dead, The Bad Sleep Well (1960) remains the least appreciated of Akira Kuro-sawa’s midperiod collaborations with Toshiro Mifune—a fate for which we have only the other Kurosawa-Mifune films…

By Chuck Stephens


Gate of Flesh: I Love in Fear

Placed on the table before you are three images of Tokyo, each of them representing aspects of the metropolis as it existed back in 1964, some nineteen years after firebombings had reduced the city to rubble, signaling the beginning of the end of an …

By Chuck Stephens


Heat Stroke: Crazed Fruit and
Japanese Cinema’s Season in the Sun

Then film critic and soon-to-be figurehead of the 1960s Japanese new wave Nagisa Oshima saw it as a portent of the future, famously observing that “in the sound of the girl’s skirt being ripped . . . sensitive people could hear the wails of a sea…

By Chuck Stephens


Onibaba: Black Sun Rising

“People are both the devil and God,” Japanese writer/director Kaneto Shindo—whose 1964 erotic-horror classic Onibaba you now hold in your hands—told an interviewer just a year or so ago, “and are truly mysterious.” He is surely in a posit…

By Chuck Stephens


And God Created Woman

Released in Paris, to little initial acclaim, in 1956, And God Created Woman was scarcely Brigitte Bardot’s first film. By most filmographers’ reckonings, it was her seventeenth. You mean to say you don’t remember The Girl in the Bikini? How ab…

By Chuck Stephens


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