Black Test Car (1962) & The Black Report (1963) – Film Reviews

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Black Test Car (1962)

Director: Yasuzo Masumura
Cast: Hideo Takamatsu, Jiro Tamara, Junko Kano
Certificate: 15

The Black Report (1963)

Director by Yasuzo Masumura
Cast: Ken Utsui, Junko Kano, Hideo Takamatsu
Certificate: 15

Film reviews by Roger Crow / @RogerCrow

I’d never heard of Japanese maverick director Yasuzo Masumura, but ever keen on discovering lost gems I settle in for a slice of early sixties world cinema.

Black Test Car is described as a “bitingly satirical espionage thriller set in the heart of the Japanese auto industry”.

In a bitter, take-no-prisoners corporate war between the Tiger Motorcar Company and their competitors, the Yamato Company, undercover spies have infiltrated both sides. As Tiger prepares to launch its newest “Pioneer” car and a prototype bursts into flames, Toru, heads a secretive task force to root out Yamato’s spy, and find out what they can about the competitor’s familiar-looking new model.

“Looks terrific”

It opens with a bang, and then slows to puttering speed as exposition is unpacked. It looks terrific, with its stark monochrome, and beautifully lit scenes.

Some of the dialogue is a little stilted, but it may have lost something in translation. However, as cult curios go, this is a must for petrol heads and fans of world cinema.

It launched a series of similarly themed “Black” films, including The Black Report – Masumura’s 1963 follow up, which also features Hideo Takamatsu and the divine Junko Kano.

Part crime film, part courtroom drama, it centres on the murder of a food company’s boss, and the search for his killer.

This is far more by-the-numbers, though again it’s fascinating to see a different take on a well worn genre. I get pretty bored with courtroom thrillers, so it’s not entirely my cuppa. More action, less analysis would have helped, though it looks terrific and fans of slow burning crime thrillers should love it.

Performances8
Direction7
Script7
Cinematography8
Black Test Car and The Black Report are showing on the Arrow Video Channel
7.5
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