Voice Without a Shadow (1958)

Director Seijun Suzuki was a titan of Japanese cinema. Appreciated for his output during the 60’s and 70’s, he began making films in the 50’s and continued to work all the way into the 2000’s. Known as a stylist, his films have garnered a rabid following. Voice Without a Shadow is one of his lesser seen films from early in his long career. Released by Nikkatsu studio and re-released by cult film titans Arrow Video as part of the Nikkatsu Diamond Guys set, Voice Without a Shadow deserves to be rediscovered.

The film begins with a vicious murder and a mysterious call by the perpetrator to a phone operator. Terrified she tells the police and the police round up suspects and have them speak to her over the phone. No dice. None of the suspects match. The murder goes unsolved until one day when one of her husband’s shady friends calls their home. She recognizes the voice as the murder’s and he knows she recognizes it. It turns out the man has also been blackmailing several people in town and using her husband as a go-between, unbeknownst to her husband. When the blackmailer/murderer turns up dead, her husband is suspect number one because of their association. His wife, along with a plucky reporter investigate the case to root out the real murderer of the blackmailer/murderer.

This film oozes style. Every shot is carefully crafted and designed in a way that only Suzuki could do. The film has lots of wonderful dolly and tracking shots, great shots of architecture and scenery. The film is pure eye candy. So much so that i had trouble following the movie because i was too busy getting an eyeful of the compositions. The film is a wonderful twisty noir that kept my attention throughout it’s whole run time. ’58 is late in the game for a noir but this one hits the right marks and should be spoken of in the same breath as the genre standouts. I had a great time watching this film and I’m so glad it’s finally readily available in the states. It may be an early film from Suzuki but it shows no sign of being made by an inexperienced film maker. Suzuki knew was he was doing right out of the gate.

The film looks fantastic with a great restoration from Arrow. The special features are a bit skimpy but that’s because there are 3 films included in this set, all on one disc. Fret not however, there are no signs of compression. The film looks pristine.

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