I Am Waiting (1957)

I Am Waiting (1957) is a violent love noir boxing and lonely youth alienation revenge seeker tale from the Japanese noir boom of the mid to late 1950s.

It is seeker and mood noir, with many a pose of a beautiful young man in peril and even more poses of the beautiful young suicidal chanteuse wanderer, who hang around the docks, most amazingly of all in the young hero's completely empty and almost abandoned bar restaurant.

This dive of a bar is only metres from the industrially smoky and noisy dock railway and likewise only metres from the water too, truly the most horrendous place to play any kind of trade.

This is where two broken young people converge and start to form a life, and where in best cinematic noir style, that love and that peace is broken by gangland ties. Further and amazingly, these ties tie the two young people tighter.


They have one in the same nemesis for the gang boys who hang around more popular yet more sleazy pick-up bars are the young woman's tormentors and they seem to have something to do with the disappearance of the young boy's missing brother.

Noir fuel and mood, staring to the side, gliding to the swish of the slow jazz, there is not even any martial art in I Am Waiting (1957) because every trope is repeated from the USA (CIA) down to the boxing noir disaster trope, and the bar room punch up trope, sidled out of the Western and into film noir, and thence in this case to Japan.


In a realm of Japanese cinema, there exists a narrative woven with the threads of noir, a tapestry of crime and passion, adorned with tropes and clichés spun to their utmost. Behold, a woeful beauty and a troubled hero entwined in a web of fate, their encounter fraught with complications born of circumstance. Interlopers, thugs of nefarious intent, intercede, while the shadows of the past cast their grim specter upon the present, lending depth to the tableau. 

And amidst this chiaroscuro, a cast of ancillary characters imbue the scene with hues of vibrancy and vitality.

The mastery of Kurataro Takamura's lens, illuminating the screen oh so noir, with a fine lady noir battle seen which does entertain with its brilliance, does much to bolster the production, though the script at times lays bare its intentions with a lack of subtlety that is all the more attractive in its fantasy, because fantasy makes noir.

The thespians, too, ply their craft with skill, perhaps even excellence, yet find themselves constrained by the archetypes they inhabit, leaving scant room for true evolution.

Yet, for all its virtues, this opus pales in comparison to the greats of American noir. The editing falters, the narrative teeters on the precipice of simplicity, and the delineation betwixt hero and villain rings too clear. 'Tis a flawed gem, to be sure, yet one may find solace in its imperfections, if forewarned.

Ah, but let us not forget the virtuoso Takamura, whose prowess bears repeating. The climactic melee, a symphony of violence, and the final tableau ere the credits roll, both stand as exemplars of the cinematic arts. 

Director Koreyoshi Kurahara, in his maiden foray into the realm of celluloid, displays a novice's uncertainty at times, yet reveals a boldness of vision and a fervent adoration for the silver screen, which, in truth, is all that truly matters.

As with other countries across the world - - well did USA have a new wave? Films like this one nonetheless mark the genesis of a luminary of the New Wave, and a new wave itself, most especially France and Japan, both took to film noir quite naturally.

Koreyoshi Kurahara, whose oeuvre includes the singularly eccentric The Warped Ones, a titan of 1960s cinema. 'Tis a departure from the aforementioned, this I Am Waiting, yet a noir in the tradition of the Occident, bereft of true exoticism save for a mere dalliance with mahjong.

In the firmament of stars, Yujiro Ishihara and Mie Kitahara shine bright, their collaboration a testament to their prowess, honed upon the anvil of Ko Nakahira's Crazed Fruit. The tale they weave is one of crime and melancholy, of haunted souls ensnared by the sins of yore. 'Tis a narrative woven from the fabric of happenstance, wherein coincidence reigns supreme, threading together disparate lives in a tapestry of fate.

Yet, amidst the grand design, there lies folly in the guise of villains, inept and hapless in their machinations. A farce, indeed, how easily the hero dispatches them, a mere puppeteer pulling the strings of fate. The pugilistic subplot, reminiscent of Kubrick's Killer's Kiss, adds naught but levity to the affair.

The cadence of the tale is deliberate, its tempo measured, culminating in a crescendo of tension in the final act, in keeping with the grand tradition of crime narratives of yore. Memorable are the opening tableau, water droplets dancing upon a pond's surface, and the subtle interplay of shadows cast by ceiling fans, a harbinger of Kurahara's future triumphs.


All one needs of the essence of Japanese noir, gritty and urbane, a journey through smoke-filled dens and dimly-lit cabarets, where the strains of Western music mingle with the discordant symphony of urban life. Yujiro Ishihara, as our stalwart protagonist, embodies the quintessence of masculinity, his resolve unyielding in the face of adversity. Yes, all of the noir, compact and moving.

Alongside him, Mie Kitahara lends her grace and charm, a fitting foil to his steely resolve. Together, they traverse a landscape fraught with peril, their bond forged in the crucible of shared tribulation.

Though contrivances abound in the plots machinations, the tale remains a satisfying odyssey through the annals of articles that are definitely not written by AI, about the more global aspects of high noir. 

This became the most common neo-noir finale of them all

I Am Waiting

Directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara

Written by Shintarō Ishihara

Produced by Takiko Mizunoe | Starring Yujiro Ishihara, Mie Kitahara | Cinematography Kurataro Takamura | Edited by Akira Suzuki | Music by Masaru Sato | Distributed by Nikkatsu | Release date October 20, 1957 | Running time 91 minutes | | I Am Waiting (1957) at Wikipedia

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